Brandon de Hoyos, 36, is a gay Houston native, and there might be no one better suited to tell the stories of Houstonians than him. As the director of community engagement at ABC13 Houston for the last five years, de Hoyos has elevated LGBTQ voices and the way they are represented in the media.
“Representation matters, whether you’re on-screen or one of the incredible souls producing what appears there,” says de Hoyos. “LGBTQIA inclusion in the media means more of our community is seen. We are affirming people of all ages, and empowering them in ways we weren’t able to even five or ten years ago. For example, the two gay dads on Disney XD’s DuckTales reboot, the frank storytelling about the HIV crisis on FX’s Pose, or the forward-thinking stories about transgender women of color that we’ve covered on ABC13. We’re doing vital work as storytellers to say, ‘We see you and your life has meaning. You matter.’”
De Hoyos has always been on the cutting edge of the media. He studied print journalism at the University of Houston, but credits his coming of age at the start of the digital revolution as a key factor in moving news off the printed page and into cyberspace. Many newsrooms struggled during that time to adapt to an entirely new medium.
“Being an early evangelist for digital in the newsroom helped me grow as a leader, even though we had no idea where the Internet would eventually lead us as storytellers. I spent seven years as a digital editor at About.com, back when it was owned by The New York Times Company. From there, I helped lead digital at Radio One stations in Houston, and finally landed at ABC13, which I had grown up watching at home. It was all TGIF and Marvin Zindler back then—‘Slime in the ice machine!’” recalls de Hoyos of the famous Houston newsman.
De Hoyos said he is proud to work for a company like ABC and Disney, where he can advocate for positive portrayals of queer people. As a young person, he was not always as confident in his own voice, or in being the advocate he has evolved into. The fact that he can live authentically and transparently at work has helped him understand the value that he brings to a workplace, and the importance of his presence for an audience clamoring for representation.
De Hoyos believes that the commitment to fairness and equality that he experiences at work should also include a commitment to fairly representing Houston’s diversity on the air.
“The media have an important role to play as educators and advocates in our society,” he says. “This is not just about respect, but an affirmation that LGBTQIA lives matter. In years past, I have seen cases of violence where law enforcement has used he/him pronouns to identify a [trans] victim, but witnesses on the scene told us the victim was a woman. Our Eyewitness News producers have had very thoughtful discussions in situations like these, and a few times we’ve had to report that a victim was shot without mentioning pronouns or how this person might identify. We’d rather wait and get it right than to report in error. I think every single person deserves this level of care.”
De Hoyos fits right in at ABC13 and in Houston. He was born here, after all, and you can tell that he likely has something bigger on the horizon.
“When I was 11 years old, I won a contest to become a junior reporter for Disney Adventures magazine. My entire life’s pursuit has been storytelling, and I can’t imagine I’d ever do anything else. I also can’t think of any other company I’d rather tell stories for. Walt Disney Television, of which ABC13 is a part, has an incredible history of LGBTQ firsts on TV that spans nearly 50 years. I’d love to stay at ABC13 forever, but I might find myself at the Disney studios in Burbank one day, or maybe at ABC in New York. Stay tuned.”
For more information about ABC13, visit abc13.com. Keep up with Brandon de Hoyos on Instagram @meetbrandon.