June 19, 2008
A model gay journalist?
Posted by: Chris
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:
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.
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