5 questions with Frank Trejo
Frank Trejo, 54, is a longtime local news reporter who’s worked for The Fort Worth Star-Telegram, The Dallas Times Herald and The Dallas Morning News. He first joined The Morning News in 1986 and covered gay and lesbian issues for the newspaper from 1993-95. Trejo, a native of El Paso, lives in Oak Cliff with his partner of 21 years.
What was it like being a gay Latino in Dallas when you first moved here?
For me it was a time of personal and professional growth. The 1980s also were years when there was a dramatic increase in the numbers of Latinos in the Dallas area and that was reflected in the LGBT community. But it has taken many more years for there to be awareness of and visibility of that community.
How were LGBT issues portrayed in the media during the early part of your newspaper career?
For the most part LGBT issues were ignored, or if something was written it was usually about some major crime or scandal. But there was little effort to portray the full depth and diversity of the community, and its place in the larger society.
You had a part in changing this in Dallas. What was the most memorable story you covered during this time, and what person in the local gay community made the biggest impression on you?
Certainly the 1993 March on Washington and the 25th anniversary of Stonewall in New York in 1994 were memorable. But for me, the most vivid stories were the murders of gay men in the early to mid-1990s, not just in North Texas but in other parts of the state. One story that still sticks in my memory was the 1993 killing of Nicholas West in Tyler and the community’s reaction to it. If I had to choose one person who made the greatest impression on me, I would have to say John Thomas. I feel very lucky to have known him.
Was there a lot of backlash from readers to seeing gay subject matter in print? Is this what caused The DMN to do away with the beat?
I know there was a big backlash. I received many calls and letters from people complaining about our coverage. And so did my editors. Many of them were from people livid that we had written about gays at all. I’m not sure why the beat was eventually eliminated. But I asked to be taken off the beat because I believed my coverage was receiving more internal scrutiny than other beats and that my beat was being held to different standards.
Does it surprise you how far the LGBT community has come in the last 25 years? And do you think you and your partner will ever be able to marry in your native state?
I wouldn’t say I’m surprised. There have been a lot of people in the community, locally and nationally, who have done an amazing job. I do know, however, that much work remains. I’m hopeful we will one day have a marriage that the government recognizes. But as far as I’m concerned, we are married. We just don’t have the same rights.
Soundout is a weekly column featuring people whose jobs and interests have an impact on the daily lives of members of the LGBT community. If you’d like to recommend someone to cover in this column, firstname.lastname@example.orgÂ.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition May 22, 2009.