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  • « A bit of blog maintenance | Main | That 5 a.m. bang on the door »

    June 19, 2008

    A model gay journalist?

    Posted by: Chris

    Danrenzi How did I miss this?

    About a month ago, Dan Renzi of "Real World 5: Miami" fame was named the new editor of the Express Gay News, the lesbian and gay newspaper for Fort Lauderdale and South Florida. It's a paper I know well, since I oversaw editorial operations there from 2003 to 2006, after Window Media's sister company purchased it about five years ago.

    I was lucky enough to find a great editor for the Express; long-time gay journo Mubarak Dahir compiled an excellent record of serious, entertaining and well-rounded coverage. He was succeeded last year by Phil LaPadula, who had been a reporter at the paper dating back to before our purchase of it.

    Now comes Renzi, famous mainly for his bitchy tirades more than a decade ago on "Real World." My personal favorite was the haughty lecture he gave his Miami castmates about how "superficial" they were for choosing an original fashion line as their business project. Disgusted at their shallow display, Dan quit the project and sought more depthful employment as, wait for it, a fashion model.

    But hey, he was a kid back then, and thank god there weren't cameras falling my closeted conservative self around at the ripe old age of 22. Still, Renzi's journalism credentials -- a few freelance articles and a stint at Queerty -- are certainly unusual.

    I'll let you be the judge about his early days as Express editor. His first big story, of course, was last month's landmark California Supreme Court ruling on gay marriage. Renzi posted this at the time on his personal blog:

    CALIFORNIA MARRIAGE

    Who wants to write a story for me about the whole gay marriage thing?

    I'm thinking it will be more interesting as a column, that is not just a regurgitation of facts. Great, gay people can get married in California now. That's it for the facts.

    Yeah, that pretty much sums that up. Then there was his editorial on the subject in the current issue:

    The “gay marriage” topic has been beaten to death, with so many pictures of gleeful gays galavanting along the streets of the Golden State, holding hands and kissing romantically, happy to join the world in matrimonial bliss.  But now the dust has settled, and we can sit back and think…marriage?  Really? …

    As I’m sitting here in my bed typing this, I just looked over at this man lying next to me watching TV.  Marriage?...really?

    Just so you know, I can sit here and type about him without him noticing. He doesn’t read, or speak, much English; we have more of a “yes-or-no” relationship, which is blissful in its simplicity. “Do you want dinner? Do you like Chinese?” That’s about it. Watch, let’s type something to him right now. Hi. Do you like your show on Telemundo?  What is this talk show host yelling about? Why is he wearing a viking helmet? Telemundo is crazy. You are very sexy in my bed. You don’t know I am typing about you and it doesn’t matter. When I am finished typing this I am going to give you besos. Nope, no reaction.

    I'll leave it to Latino readers whether they find that little passage offensive. My own partner spoke no English when I met him in January 2005, and I didn't know Portuguese. But we did get by in Spanish and within weeks we were both learning each other's language. Equal partners learning how to communicate; that's sort of what a real world relationship, married or otherwise, is all about, right?

    Fort Lauderdale may have a Spring Break, Sodom by the Sea reputation, but it's actually home to a mature, well-read, political attuned gay population. I can't help but wonder whether the content-"lite" snarkiness of reality TV and Queerty will play well in this Peoria.

    Stay tuned.

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    Comments

    1. Colin on Jun 19, 2008 9:37:13 AM:

      Chris, I'm sure Dan's appointment is an experiment to see if they can liven up the publication a bit, but if that editorial is any example, they have a long way to go. Having read Dan's blog on occasion, I'm a bit surprised at just how trite and silly the editorial reads. And you're right about the Miami / Ft. Lauderdale gay scene, it's more mature than other cities' gay communities (e.g. DC, Atlanta). Not that we're not fun loving down here, but we do prefer a little substance with our fun. :)

    1. Oscar's Wilde on Jun 19, 2008 12:28:37 PM:

      Yes. Chris we should avoid writers who really live here in the United States, those who have a sense of humor, are left of center, are quick,witty and attractive. You have reached a level of Jesus like perfection that will be hard for the rest of idiots to meet.
      Now let us gets some facts instead of just being bitchy.
      On Dan's website you will see that he has been active in fundraising for HIV for years. His TV experience did not stop with Real World. He take and look at life is with a sense of humor and yet is very informative.

      However, I do agree with you 100 percent about this statement.....and thank god there weren't cameras falling my closeted conservative self around at the ripe old age of 22

      Just for the record,Renzi was selected out of thousands to have cameras follow him around, so I don't think it in necessary for you to "thank god" for your lack of camera exposure.

    1. Lucrece on Jun 19, 2008 12:57:07 PM:

      I'm Hispanic, and I'm not so sure whether I find the piece offensive or simply foolish and ignorant.

      Trust me, while some Hispanics cannot speak English, quite a number of them can pick up on the gist of the conversation simply through body language and identifying cognates.

      Now that I think about it, it's not offensive, just presumptuous. And corny; you natives can get rather carried away with throwing around words in a foreign language through the belief that such may be clever or romantic.

      And, ugh, Telemundo. Mexican TV is for the most part an intellectual deathknell.

    1. ModelSeart on Jun 19, 2008 2:14:05 PM:

      Chris is bitter because the Florida paper won't run his stuff. It is so obvious.

    1. ted on Jun 19, 2008 2:30:40 PM:

      There's a difference between a snarky, witty blog and a real newspaper. Doing one well very, very rarely means you can do the other well. I'm pretty sure Dan Savage is the only example of someone who can do both (and he's not really a blogger per se). Renzi doesn't have the experience to run a newspaper; it seems he was chosen for the job because of his fame/infamy. Bashing Chris because he has journalistic standards and experience is pretty pathetic, and it also belies the low level of expectations many have for the gay press.

    1. Dan on Jun 20, 2008 12:12:20 AM:

      And how much better did the Blade get after you were bumped?

      Pot. Kettle. Black.

    1. James on Jun 20, 2008 4:11:07 AM:

      So far he hasn't hired "Jeff Gannon," so he already has one up on you.

    1. Kevin on Jun 21, 2008 9:52:03 AM:

      There's never a shortage of loathsome bitches in this world, now is there?

      Good post, Chris. I can only imagine how astounding it is to see what that paper has come to. But alas, for the print media, Rome is already burning so they might as well put Nero in charge.

    1. Charles J. Mueller on Jun 22, 2008 11:56:44 PM:

      I am not Latino, but I found the remarks Dan Renzi made about his Latino partner quite disrespectful and loathsome.

      If I were to speak of my Filipino partner in such a denigrating and disrespectful fashion, I would not blame him if he told me never to come back to the Philippines again.

      Snarky is too kind a word for Dan Bitchy is more like it.

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