Monday, November 28, 2011

Is the Houston Chronicle's Art Critic Trying to Get Himself Fired?

by Robert Boyd

Douglas Britt-Darby (née Douglas Britt) is apparently trying real hard to get himself fired by The Houston Chronicle. Evidently he would like to use the newspaper as a forum to speak truth to power in Houston, as they say. The Houston Chronicle has long an instrument of power in Houston. It was bought by Jesse H. Jones in 1926, then ownership was transferred to the Houston Endowment in 1937. The Houston Endowment was Jones's own personal non-profit. The Houston Endowment exists today as a grant-making non-profit endowment. Glasstire is a Houston Endowment grantee, for example. So speaking truth to power has never really been The Chron's thing.

Somehow, this is all connected to an extended roadtrip Britt-Darby will be taking, and to his personal history as an escort. I don't quite understand the connection, but I suspect all will be revealed on his video-blog, Reliable Narratives. One thing he wants to know is, does his past as an escort (and a tweaker) make you think differently about his criticism? In other words, do you think his criticism is less valid if you know this part of his personal history? But writers often have complicated personal histories (see The Night of the Gun by David Carr, for example), so why should it? The work is what counts.

Update: The Houston Press reports that Britt has been let go by the Chronicle for the duration of his road trip/performance, but is free to reapply for the job when he gets back.



  1. Even as a gay man, he's got lots of white male privilege to fall back on. Male sex workers aren't looked down upon in the same way because men are allowed to be sexual. They're expected to be sexual. It's that whole "men are wired for this shit" crap. The word 'whore' doesn't stick in the same way.

    Even here you're calling him an 'escort'. I bet if this was a woman you'd use the word 'prostitute'.

    Can't imagine anyone holding this against him. If he was a woman it'd be a different story.

    Gotta love that white male privilege.

  2. I used the word "escort" because Britt-Darby did--he also distinguished between escorts who are prostitutes and those who aren't (admittedly a distinction I don't quite get). If it were a woman who had made this video and she had used the word "escort," I would have done the same. As for holding it against him--well, I am a little freaked out by his admission. But I really do judge writers by their writing, not their biographies. In any case, I recently did another post about a woman, Emily Moran Barwick, who is a sex worker (she's a stripper) and uses her experience as part of her art. I don't think I came off as judgmental in that post--but I guess that's for other people to decide. You can read it here (