Out Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Jose Antonio Vargas is in the middle of launching a new media company called #EmergingUS, that aims to reflect America's diversity and the intersection of race, immigration, and identity.
Vargas, who was profiled last year as one of The Advocate's 40 Under 40 "intersectional advocates," went from working for The Washington Post to making documentaries for CNN and MTV. But he calls his latest project "a culmination of my career, of my professional life, and my personal life, and the intersection of the two."
"#EmergingUS is about the new mainstream," Vargas told The Advocate in December. "We are undergoing an unprecedented demographic shift, unlike anything this country or world has ever seen, and our job as journalists is to make sense of it -- to connect people, to insist on empathy, and that's what I'm going to do with #EmergingUS."
As the founder of #EmergingUs, Vargas says he believes now is a crucial moment to cover LGBT issues from a multifaceted perspective that accounts for the multiple identities that make up each individual in our community.
"For the most part, the media's coverage of identity is too simplistic," he says. "Much too 'black-and-white' or 'gay-and-straight,' at a time when American identity is more complex than it ever has been before. The goal of #EmergingUS is to tell more nuanced stories about the emerging American identity. I certainly don't fit into a box -- I'm an undocumented, gay, Filipino man with a Hispanic name who looks Asian."
As a gay journalist, Vargas says covering LGBT issues for #EmergingUS will be an important part of his new media company's mission. "LGBT issues will be central to #EmergingUS, but we're looking at gender and sexuality in a more contextualized way, because you can't talk about LGBT without talking about power, white privilege and race," he explains.
The Advocate is premiering an exclusive clip (watch it below) from #EmergingUS called "Supermen," profiling trans men and exemplifying the type of intersectional coverage Vargas wants to include in his project, he says.
"Our interview with Parker covered not only his experience transitioning but his perception of white male privilege and his relationship with his partner, a black woman who had also recently transitioned," Vargas says. "These are the kind of interesting, complicated stories #EmergingUS will tell."
The 34-year-old reporter is currently taking donations to help fund the launch of #EmergingUS. All contributions made will be matched -- up to $500,000 total -- in the final days of the fundraising campaign, which ends Monday.
Watch a clip of "Supermen," below.