Blind Spots

The Express-News ran a story and photos today about a visually impaired, transgender drag performer named Alexis Nicole Whitney. I wrote the story, and wonderfully talented photographer Lisa Krantz took the photos.

If you were to click on this story, here, on our Web site and read the accompanying comments section, you would see, at last count, 43 messages. Some are incredibly ugly, some support the article and some don’t make a lot of sense.

Several commenters, when they weren’t decrying our character’s so-called “lifestyle,” said that this wasn’t news.

Let me be upfront. Besides the fact that Alexis is moving to Dallas next weekend, there was no real news hook to this story. That made it a problematic one to run in a Metro news section.

But I argued that this still was news. Well, why? What is news?

I turn again to the comments section. One of the commenters who criticized the piece noted in her diatribe that this isn’t the “San Francisco Express-News.”

Ah, how clever. Point taken. In other words, we are not a liberal city like San Francisco, a metropolis known to be friendly to people with these “different” lifestyles.

Well, first of all, I take the comment as a compliment. If it means I’m challenging someone’s idea of what should happen or should be, then I’ve done my job.

But I think commenters deserve an explanation of why anyone would pursue a story like this, when there is, in theory, nothing inherently newsy about it, at least not in the traditional sense of something happening right this moment: I think this is an ultimately news-worthy story because there are people like Alexis everywhere in this city. Of course, I’m almost entirely surely she is the only visually impaired transgender drag queen in town. But what I mean is, there are transgender people everywhere in San Antonio, and you may just not know it. There are drag shows happening, right now, and you may just not know it. And you don’t have to like it. But I think you should know that it’s out there.

That, to me, is what news is really all about — it’s the story of a place; it’s pulling up the window shade on something, perhaps, you never saw before.

So, in case you missed it, here is Lisa Krantz’s absolutely beautiful slideshow; and the link to my story is above.

Here’s a preview of one of those photos here.


~ by viannadavila on January 24, 2010.

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