How Not To Write A Gay Story

the_archive_666_greenwichCW News Channel WPIX offers up today’s case study in how not to cover LGBT issues in a piece titled “Tranny Teens Terrorizing Downtown Girls”. While the author Steve Bogart gets big points for his ability to alliterate, by every other measure, he comes off like a racist, homophobic bigot. Here’s how.

Bogart writes:

“Police say a roving pack of transvestite teens has been targeting females living in a tony West Village building. According to authorities, the trannys would steal the women’s purses and use their stolen credit cards to buy wigs and new clothes.”

There’s not a single thing right with this paragraph. Transvestites are not transsexuals and nobody should be calling them ‘trannies’ and even then, if you’re going to use a derogatory term, you might as well spell it right.

Bogart finally gets around to the details, saying:

“Jubril “Dominic” Faggins, 19, and Jhirad “Shanese” Powell, 18 have both been charged with attacking two women at The Archive on Greenwich Street… Powell told cops, “It was Destiny (another transvestite) that told me to rob the white bitch.”

So the “roving pack of transvestite teens” are three kids? Here I was hoping for some sort of neo-Warriors economic collapse gang action. Oh, speaking of loaded words, the accompanying video is titled “Thugged-Out Transvestites Targeting Women.”

I know that expecting a lot out of someone who reports for The CW is pretty foolish, but you get a sense this reporter’s sole experience with the gay community was that he watched Al Pacino in Crusing one time in college–er, trade school.

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  • bb

    And don’t forget: reporters don’t come up with headlines, so he actually doesn’t even get the alliteration points.

  • kevin (not that one)

    Actually, his experience speaks more about his frequent visits to porn sites geared towards straight males, where the terms “shemale”, “tranny”, and “ladyboy” are very common.

  • tran wreck

    Girl, I have been terrorized by trannies many, many times. Mostly when my hustling muscles in on their corner.

  • Gregoire

    I’m sorry, I wasn’t able to move past these names — Jubril “Dominic” Faggins and Jhirad “Shanese” Pow.

  • Jonathan

    Very reminiscent of the new coverage for the New Jersey 4 ( “Wolf pack of lesbians” and the like…

  • Into the Nightlife

    Regardless of how the news phrased it – they got it right.

    I live in NYC and never venture near Christopher Street on a Friday or Saturday night. These inner city kids descend upon the neighborhood and act like shrieking harridans…and frankly…a bunch of assholes.

    Sorry. I’m not going to be PC about it or mince words. And if anybody has an issue with it, I suggest they visit the West Village on one of those nights and see it for themselves.

    Be yourself – but behave and respect other people. There is way too much over-the-top behavior going on these days, too many loud people. If I lived in that neighborhood I would throw a bucket of water on those bitches headfs just like Samantha did in that Sex and The City episode.

  • strumpetwindsock

    Yeah, it’s pretty sensationalist.
    I don’t think the last time I had anything stolen it wound up in the papers. Were the murderers all taking a day off or something?

    And yes, misuse of the term “tranny” is pretty damn sloppy. The headline writer is actually the biggest culprit; but then the only reason to publish a story like this is for the lurid headline, so why would they want to soft-pedal it?

    The racism charge is a bit of a stretch though, unless you mean the story was slanted to raise the spectre of “coloured” thieves terrorising poor white people.

    “White bitch” was a direct quote, so we presume one of the thieves was non-white, though we don’t actually know the race of any of them.

    On the other hand the fact that the victim didn’t immediately cancel her cards and let the thieves go on the two-day spending spree does make us white folk look pretty damn foolish.


  • strumpetwindsock

    @Into the Nightlife:
    I’m sure you are right.

    On the other hand they could have written the story with no reference to sexual orientation, gender or cross-dressing at all. After all, they didn’t publish any other identifying information, and if someone passes well who knows or cares what’s in their pants?

    And when there’s a straight thief on the loose it’s generally not published at all.

  • Into the Nightlife

    @strumpetwindsock: You don’t get it. Yes…there are tons of robberies by straights every day. But this neighborhood has turned into an entire circus. I am not kidding you. And the wigs and the craziness and all the other stuff has a lot to do with it. Residents of the West Village have been dealing with it for a long, long time now. many of them are families. And to have this hostile, confrontational, and outlandish behavior at their door step is unacceptable.

    I am not going to defend another person because they are gay, or go soft on them. Just someone should not defend someone who does something wrong because they happen to be the same race. It should be based on a persons actions.

    The reason the news report was colorful and over the top is because of THEIR BEHAVIOR. I mean the quote itself “It was Destiny that told me to rob the white bitch”…that is so fucked up.

    People bring things on themselves sometimes. Time for accountability.

    What the news report said is exactly my thoughts when walking down Christopher at night. I’m not going to lie to you.

  • Into the Nightlife

    @strumpetwindsock: Oh…and by the way. Instead of getting a “snicker” by whenever she canceled her cards, you should be pissed it happened in the first place. If it happened to you you wouldn’t be snickering. Regardless if they are cross dressers or whatever, they are still men assualting women.

    And by the way, “makes us white folk look pretty damn foolish”…I notice that is where white folk and others differ. Whites seem to think they should beat up on themselves as well.

  • strumpetwindsock

    @Into the Nightlife:

    I already said I am sure you are correct about it being a zoo.

    If that is the case it would be better served by a serious news story… because this sensationalist spot piece that tries to pass two people off as a gang makes me suspect the station’s motives for covering it in the first place.

    My snicker? I was questioning the charge of racism, which I didn’t actually think was there, at least overtly, and I made a joke. I thought it was a good one, actually, So no I am not beating up on myself at all.

    I am sorry for the attack, but not cancelling your cards IMMEDIATELY after you have had them ripped off is just stupid.

    Look, I can appreciate you are hot about this and I don’t want to offend, but if this issue as serious as you say then I think you should agree that sloppy news coverage isn’t helping to resolve things one bit.

  • Chitown Kev

    @Into the Nightlife:

    No need to apologize. I WAS one of those inner city kids in the mid-80’s. Without all the drama and the drag, of course. But people like this were some of my best friends at the time.

  • Into the Nightlife

    Life in the big city.

  • Chitown Kev

    @Into the Nightlife:

    Now, I was able to get out of this type of stuff pretty much when I was sick and tired of it. I never fit in with this group for many reasons and they would remind me of it.

  • JJJJ

    Well…..if one of those dudes in a dress ever beat up and robbed my sister or any of my female friends, I’d want to beat the crap out of him. But no more so than if they were mugged by a dude not in a dress.

  • Sebbe

    “The reason the news report was colorful and over the top” is because it is the CW.

  • Stef

    Okay…I agree with most arguments you’ve made…this is totally a ridiculous headline and sensational story to boot… but where exactly in the story is the “racist” issue? I’m slightly confused about that…

  • Dan

    In the unique logic of Queerty, the “racism” is found not in the violent targeting of a victim based on race, not in the boastful derision of the victim as a “white bitch”, but rather in a newspaper’s quoting the perpetrator.

    And while we are on the subject of the odd thought processes that go into Queerty’s posts, why is this story “homophobic”? The reporter’s transgression was in using a supposedly derogatory term “tranny” and conflating trangendered persons with transvestites. These are all issues of gender identity and arguably the report reflects transphobia. But there is no discussion whatsoever of gays or of the sexual orientation of the suspects. So Queerty is guilty of conflating gender identity with sexual orientation. Heal thyself, Queerty.

  • JJJJ

    Dan : That really is quite oddball logic. Even I didn’t realize it that clearly until you pointed it out.

  • Miss Understood

    @Into the Nightlife:
    I’m not defending the robbers, but I do think that the scene on Christopher Street is generally a pretty cool thing. Young gay people have a place to gather and socialize. They may be loud but most of them are not causing serious trouble.

    As for the neighbors and “families”, well, they can go to Connecticut if they want quiet. Why the hell did they move to a wild party street to begin with?

  • Japhy Grant

    @Dan: Actually, the reason I found the story racist was the use of “Thugged Out” in the video story tag, which is obviously race code.

    As to referring to hating on transexuals as “homophobia”– we’re an LGBT community and all in it together. It is transphobia as well, but while sexual orientation and gender identity are two separate things, “in the unique logic of Queerty”, they are part of the same strugle.

  • strumpetwindsock

    @Japhy Grant: Well there you go… I’ve never even heard that term before, never mind knowing what it means. Another reason why it’s a sloppy news piece.

  • Dan


    Hatred of transgendered persons is not “homophobia.” The “GLB”s may be in the same struggle as the “T”s, but as even you admit, that doesn’t mean they are all interchangeable and identical. One can be transphobic without being homophobic and vice versa. One can be proudly gay and transphobic, and one can be a transgendered person and be homophobic. So for you to use “homophobia” as a catch-all phrase is to subordinate and render invisible the particular discrimination faced by trans people.

    This is precisely the reason why some lesbians do not appreciate it when men use “gay” as a catch-all (and not the preferred term “lesbian”) to include women.

    So when you are dispensing your self-righteous PC dogma, you should follow your own rules.

    As far as “thugged out” goes, it is “obviously race code” only to someone who sees the word “thug” and instantly thinks “Black.” That would be you.

    By the way, as long as you are horrified by racism, how about a word or two about how it is wrong to physically assault “white bitches”. Looking forward to your post on that.

  • JJJJ

    Though that’s not on Queerty’s agenda, Japhy just might surprise you, Dan. Sometimes he seems pretty fair. (Hauslaib wouldn’t. He’d run and hide).

  • D.B.

    Depending on how you look at it, the news story may indeed be “sloppy” or at the very least somewhat insensitive. But the gist of it is true — on weekend nights, that neighborhood has spiraled out of control. It’s scary and dangerous.

    Yes, young people need a place to congregate; and yes, if you want quiet, the Far West Village / Christopher Street area is not for you. But somewhere along the line the “vibe” of the neighborhood changed from a fun party destination to a hostile scary place.

    I really feel sorry for the longtime residents and the business owners. It’s definitely impacting their lives. I used to go to the area bars from time-to-time, but no more. And I’m sure I’m not the only one who has decided to stay away.

  • Charles J. Mueller

    @Into the Nightlife:

    I lived in an apartment in the sixties and seventies in five-floor walk-up building facing Christopher Street.

    I’d like to have a nickel for every sleepless night I spent there with all the loud-assed queens shrieking and hollering at each other beneath my windows until all hours of the morning.

    I didn’t use buckets. I used shopping bags filled with water.

    Got a good night’s sleep after that.

  • Anja Flower

    I’m sorry, but how is this a “gay story?” Trans people are not homosexuals. SOME trans people are homosexuals, just as SOME singers are also dancers, but they are not the same thing. I certainly think that gender variance and queer sexuality are linked, but to conflate them under the banner of “gay” gives privilege to those the word is most linked to – homosexual men. Last I checked, I was a genderqueer, pansexual transwoman (oy, that’s a mouthful!), not a homosexual man. Maybe these were homosexual male crossdressers – maybe they weren’t. The article doesn’t say.

    I’ve never been to New York, so I have no idea how to respond to the politics of the West Village. This sounds like it’s really a story about street kids, though, not a story about trans people. Of course, it wouldn’t -be- a story if they weren’t trans – this sort of thing is unfortunate, but common.

    The real travesty is not that this one story is sensational, but that such a large amount of media coverage of trans people is sensational and/or inaccurate and shallow, and makes no real, intelligent attempt at understanding or explaining what trans people are. There seems to be more serious reportage on the subject than there used to be, but it’s still standard to encounter trans people portrayed as exotic, erotic, and savage.

    Le sigh.

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