An Interview with Johnny Diaz
By Herb Sosa
Weather you remember him as the gay guy’s boyfriend from MTV’s The Real World Miami season, a contributor in the
first Chicken Soup for the Latino Soul, or just that great guy with the captivating smile, Johnny is all that and a lot more. I
fondly remember him while he live here in Miami, as that shyish boy with the ever present smile and soft spoken, well
thought out opinions.
Currently working as a Living/Arts writer for the Boston Globe, where he writes about pop culture, style trends and
Hispanic-related arts stories, Johnny started his writing and many life skills right here in Miami, working as a reporter for
the Miami Herald. At the Herald he shared in the 2000 Pulitzer award coverage of the federal seizure of Elian Gonzalez
and the chaos that erupted in Miami afterwards. He also covered some of the biggest breaking stories in South Florida,
such as the Gianni Versace murder.
Most recently Johnny has been receiving great praise and reviews for his latest endeavor – Boston Boys Club, a novel.
Boston Boys Club, a Novel by Johnny Diaz
Flanked by gorgeous brick row houses in the heart of Boston’s South End, Club Café is a bar where everybody knows
your name—and who you slept with last. Every night men like Tommy Perez, Rico DiMio, and Kyle Andrews take their
place among the glistening crowd sporting chest-defining shirts and lots of smooth, tanned skin, sizing up the regulars
and the new blood while TV monitors blare Beyoncé and Missy Elliott.
For Tommy, Thursdays at Club Café in the company of his wingman Rico and a Skinny Black Bitch (vodka and Diet
Coke) are unmissable. Recently relocated from Miami to Boston to take a reporting job at The Boston Daily, Tommy is
finding it hard to break away from his tight-knit Cuban family, but his homesickness goes into rapid remission when he
meets Mikey, a blue-eyed, boyish guidance counselor from Cape Cod. Smart, funny, and wicked cute, Mikey is perfect
boyfriend material…until his drinking leads Tommy to suspect that he’s got some issues of his own. Rico—a tough-
talking, Italian-American accountant with a gamma ray smile and mournful green eyes that hint at a past he’ll admit to no
one—is sure Mikey is bad news, but to Rico any relationship that lasts longer than three hours sounds like bad news.
Then there’s Kyle, the lean, preening model and former reality show star who makes a red-carpet entrance into the CC
every Thursday as if a swarm of cameras still follows his every move, but whose real life is about to take a dramatic turn
he never anticipated.
Over the course of one unforgettable year, Tommy is forced to rethink everything he’s ever believed about life, lust, and
love. And in Club Café, a place filled with endless possibilities—of stumbling upon the perfect partner, the perfect story
idea, or just a play buddy for the night—Tommy might finally discover the person he was meant to be.
HS: Johnny… I am so proud of you and your successes. I feel like I have seen you grow up and become incredibly
successful. Do you feel grown up & successful? Explain…
JD: Thanks Herb. I do feel more mature and that I've come along way over the years from living in Miami and hitting the
clubs in South Beach every weekend and weekday. A lot of it has to do with my time in Boston. I moved up here to grow
as a writer by working at The Boston Globe but I also wanted to be on my own. I wanted to start from scratch in a new
city, meet different people and learn my way around on my own, without having the luxuries of my parents and friends
from Miami to fall back on. I wanted to see the seasons and discover New England. My job has served as a passport to
do all that. But being in Boston has made me appreciate Miami more and what it means to be from there.
HS: What inspired you to write a novel – this novel?
JD: When I moved to Boston, I immediately started going out to the most popular bar in Boston called Club Cafe. It was a
great way to find story ideas for The Globe and to meet new friends. But the more I came here, the more I noticed what a
carnival of characters this bar had. I noticed the same faces standing in the same places and I wondered, "Why are they
here? What's their story." So just for fun one night, I wrote a short story about three friends who meet up at Club Cafe. I
wrote this as a fun creative release, not thinking it could be a book. And a week later, I found myself sitting in front of my
laptop writing a second story, from the point of view of one of the other guys. A week later, I did the same from the
perspective of the third friend. Each story became a chapter and over the next few months, a book was born. Part of my
motivation came from my regular reading. I devour books and I noticed that the gay fiction I read never included a main
Hispanic character. I kept seeing smaller supporting roles, stereotypes we've all read countless times before: the
gangbangers, the super built old-school macho guys; the sexy hot Latino gardeners and the over-the-top drag queens. I
wanted to write something tht spoke of our strong friendships, our family loyalty and our struggles with being accepted
as gay in the Hispanic community. I wanted to capture how Latinos thrive and survive in a daily bicultural bubble and how
we sway back and forth in this dual reality. I haven't seen many contemporary novels by a gay Latino writer that speak to
all this, especially from an American and Hispanic point of view, with a Boston and Miami as backdrops.
HS: Did you encounter any obstacles writing a gay-themed novel in seeking a publisher? What did you learn from this
JD: I learned that some publishers don't want to bet on a gay-themed novel because they aren't as mainstream or as
profitable as chick lit. A gay-themed novel often has a niche audience and very few of these novels have crossed-over.
But I did find two publishers who specialize in gay fiction and I went with one of them, after my editor saw my vision and
what I was trying to say. I am calling my genre, chico lit, the gay Hispanic man's chick lit, if you will. (smile)
HS: The characters, scenes and places seem all too real… How much of it is real, and if so, how have some of the
persons portrayed in your novel, reacted? Are they speaking to you?
JD: The book is fiction set in real life locales such as Boston's Club Cafe. The Tommy Perez character, el cubanito de
Miami, is obviously a lot like me since he moved to Boston to write for the newspaper there so I gave that character my
voice, some of my quirks, and some of my experiences from my first year in Boston when I was a perpetual Cuban
Popsicle. The other characters are made up but loosely based on the experiences of friends I have made in Boston,
and back in Miami.
So far, the reactions have been positive (no one has egged me or flattened my tires yet) and yes, all my friends are still
talking to me and they're all enjoying the book, seeing a little of themselves in the various characters. They and their
friends relate to my trio of narrators because they are young gay guys with challenges in the dating world.
HS: The MTV thing really put you “out there” to the world. How did your
Cuban family react to this fame? How did that experience affect you?
Would you do it again?
JD: The show really did put me out there and I didn't realize how much it would until the episodes began airing and my
cousins began speed-dialing my mother in Miami Beach. My parents weren't too happy. Remember, this was 1996 and
early 1997, before Ellen came out on her show, and when being gay was still a very taboo topic and The Real World was
the only reality TV show of its kind at the time. My parents and my sister eventually accepted seeing me on the screen
kissing my boyfriend and over time, they were okay with it (because they finally stopped airing the reruns!) But I thought it
was important for people to see that if you're gay, it's okay. You can be out and happy and show who you are, even if you
come from an old-school Cuban family. I think Pedro Zamora led the way for that in his earlier years on The Real World.
I think he made it easier for a lot of us in South Florida, and around the country.
HS: What has been your families’ reaction to your book and its candid view on gay life? What has there reaction to your
personal & professional success been like?
JD: I am blessed to come from a very loving family. (My parents call me every night at 8 p.m. to say Hi and tell me
tomorrow's forecast in Boston.) They are really proud of me for writing the book and they've told just about everyone in the
305, the 786 and greater Miami-Dade, Broward and the Palm Beaches.
They were sad when I moved to Boston but they understood that coming to The Boston Globe was part of my career
trajectory, where I can hone my skills as a writer and become a better journalist. They like to say "Mi hijo es periodista en
Boston." It's nice to meet someone they happen to know and hear how much they talk about my articles (which I mail to
them in Miami.) It's their way of showing how much they love me.
HS: Describe your life in Boston vs. your life in Miami. What do you miss? What don’t you miss?
JD: Boston and Miami are beautiful but completely opposite cities. I enjoy cycling to work when the weather is warmer. I
store my bike in the closet for winter. I actually enjoy winter (people think I'm crazy for that) because the city becomes a
winter wonderland, twinkling snow caking the small forest of skyscrapers and red-bricked sidewalks. I love getting
around on the subway here, called the T, and walking on the cobblestoned streets that are marked with gaslights.
Boston has a certain New England beauty and charm that Miami doesn't have. I do miss the electric bright tropical
colors, the warm Atlantic vapor and most of all, the people in Miami. Boston and Miami are both my homes. If I could cut
myself in half, I'd leave a part of me in each city.
HS: You seem to be very comfortable speaking and sharing your life as a gay Latino with the world – which I admire.
Has this come naturally for you? …Any words of encouragement for someone out there wanting to write with this level of
JD: Thank you. I learned along time ago that you can't be 100 percent happy in the closet and I feel comfortable sharing
who I am with whomever will listen. I am out at work and in general and it hasn't been an issue. If anything, being gay
and Hispanic only adds to the diversity of my newspaper and helps me write stories that speak to our experiences. I
don't just see myself as a writer but as a communicator and an advocate.
Part of my comfort in being gay comes from being a writer. I write to share, to inform, to enlighten, and to engage. Anyone
aspiring to be a writer must know who they are and where they came from to better reflect his or her voice. The more in
touch with whom you are, the better your writing and more engaging your stories will be. I've always been told to write
what I know and I know most other authors have as well. I wouldn't write a book about being a straight Anglo guy in
Wyoming. That's not my experience. If you write from your heart, you can't go wrong because you are chronicling your
HS: What and whom else do you draw on for personal support & inspiration for your work … Boyfriend, friends, family,
work, Diet Coke. etc.
JD: I draw inspiration from my family and friends. Boston Boys Club is really a tribute to enduring friendships. Each of the
guys has a close friend they lean on in good times and in dire times. The thread of friendship runs throughout the entire
book and I hope that anyone who reads the book will feel closer to their own friends and appreciate them even more. I
know I do.
HS: Boston Boys Club is your first novel, and it is really receiving much well deserved praise. You are currently working
on your next book, Miami Manhunt. Is this a continuation of storyline & characters, or a different angle altogether? When
can we expect this to come out?
JD: Miami Manhunt is about four different guys in Miami. It follows two Cuban-American twin brothers, one is a gay movie
critic at the local paper and the other is a straight English teacher at Gables High. The story follows their sibling rivalry
and how the critic wishes he were a lot like his straight macho bro because he's found the perfect girlfriend, whom his
parents adore and embrace. The critic wants some of the same off-screen romance he often sees in the movies he
reviews but with the right guy he hasn't found yet. To vent, the critic heads to Score each Friday to meet up with his two
loca friends, a Channel 7 reporter and an aspiring singer. The book, which comes out in summer 2008, has the same
structure as Boston Boys Club but with a Miami feel. But the guys from BBC will make cameo appearances in this novel.
HS: When will you be coming to Miami for a book reading & signing?
JD: 8 p.m. May 31st at Books and Books, 265 Aragon Ave. Coral Gables
4 p.m. June 2, Borders, 2240 E. Sunrise Blvd., Fort Lauderdale
HS: Where do you want to be in 5 years in your career? …In your personal life?
JD: Five years from now, I still would like to be writing for a newspaper, sharing other people's stories and experiences
with the public. And hopefully, I will still be writing novels that feature gay Hispanics. If I can do both or at least one of
these, I'll be pretty content. And hopefully by then, my Boston condo association would have allowed me to have a dog.
HS: What would you say to a young writer trying to be true to him/herself and succeed in the industry?
JD: I would suggest finding a topic that you know and believe in. I wrote my book by writing a chapter a week based on
my hangout, Club Cafe. Pace yourself and let the book build itself on its own. This is a slow process and one that you
should enjoy, like a slow roasting or the aging of a fine wine. You don't want to rush things. Let the writing guide you and
see where it takes you. Writing my book was a labor of fun and I enjoyed alternating back and forth through the various
characters. If you have fun with your writing and write what you know, then you can't go wrong.
HS: Any regrets?
JD: All my experiences have shaped who I am and brought me to where I am, which is exactly where I want to be. So no
Johnny currently lives in Boston and readers can visit his website at www.beantowncuban.
Copyright © AMBIENTE MAGAZINE. Do not reproduce without citing this source.
www.ambientes.us JUNE / JUNIO 2007
Una entrevista con Johnny Diaz
Por Herb Sosa
Alomejor lo recuerdas como el novio gay en la serie de television reality de MTV, Real World Miami, o como contribuidor
del libro Sopa de Pollo Para el Alma Latina, o apenas como el gran individuo con la sonrisa captivdora, Johnny es todo
el eso y mucho más.
Yo siempre lo recuerdo con cariño de cuando él vivia aquí en Miami, como ese muchacho apenado con la sonrisa y la
suavidad omnipresente, con sus opiniones bien pensadas y desarolladas. Actualmente trabajando como escritor de
vida/ artes para el Boston Globe, donde él escribe sobre cultura, estilo e historias Hispana-relacionadas a el arte,
Johnny comenzó su carrera como escritor aquí en Miami como reportero en el Miami Herald.
En el Herald él compartió en la cobertura 2000 de la concesión de Pulitzer del asimiento federal de Elian Gonzalez y el
caos que entraron en erupción en Miami luego. Él también cubrió algunas de las historias que se rompían más
grandes de la Florida del sur, tal como el asesinato de Gianni Versace. Johnny ha estado recibiendo lo más
recientemente posible grandes alabanza y revisiones para el suyo el esfuerzo más último - los muchachos de Boston
aporrean, una novela.
Los muchachos de Boston aporrean, una novela de Johnny Diaz
Flanqueado por las casas magníficas de la fila del ladrillo en el corazón del extremo del sur de Boston, el club Café es
una barra donde todos sabe tu nombre-y quién dormiste con el último. Los hombres de cada noche tienen gusto de la
toma de Tommy Perez, de Rico DiMio, y de Kyle Andrews su lugar entre la muchedumbre que relucir que se divierte
pecho-definiendo las camisas y las porciones de piel lisa, bronceada, clasificando encima de los asiduos y de la
nueva sangre mientras que la TV supervisa el fragor Beyoncé y Missy Elliott. Para Tommy, jueves en el club Café en la
compañía de su Rico wingman y una perra negra flaca (vodka y coque de la dieta) son unmissable. Vuelto a poner
recientemente de Miami a Boston para tomar un trabajo de divulgación en el diario de Boston, Tommy está
encontrando duro romperse lejos el suyo apretado-hace punto la familia cubano, pero su nostalgia entra la remisión
rápida cuando él resuelve Mikey, consejero azul-eyed, infantil de la dirección del bacalao de cabo. Lindo elegante,
divertido, y travieso, Mikey es material perfecto del novio… hasta que el su beber conduce a Tommy al sospechoso que
él tiene algunas aplicaciones sus el propios. El resistente-hablar de Rico-a, el contable Italiano-Americano con una
sonrisa del rayo gama y los ojos verdes mournful que hacen alusión a a más allá del él admitirán a ningún uno-es
seguros que Mikey es malas noticias, pero a Rico cualquier relación que dure más de largo de tres horas de sonidos
como malas noticias. Entonces hay Kyle, la inclinación, preening la estrella modelo y anterior de la demostración de la
realidad que hace una entrada de la rojo-alfombra en el cc cada jueves como si un enjambre de cámaras fotográficas
todavía siga su cada movimiento, pero que de la vida real sea alrededor tomar una vuelta dramática él nunca anticipó.
Sobre el curso de un año unforgettable, fuerzan a Tommy repensar todo que él ha creído siempre sobre vida, lust, y
amor. Y en el club Café, un lugar llenó de sin fin posibilidad-de tropezar sobre el socio perfecto, la idea perfecta de la
historia, o apenas un compinche del juego para la noche-Tommy pudo finalmente descubrir a la persona que lo
significaron para ser.
HS: Johnny… Estoy tan orgulloso de ti y de tus éxitos. Me siento como que te he visto crecer y triunfar personalmente y
profesionalmente. ¿Te sientes maduro y con exito en tu vida? Explica…
HS: ¿Qué te inspiró a que escribieras una novela - esta novela?
HS: ¿Encontraste obstáculos al escribir una novela de tema gay o en buscar a un editor? ¿Qué aprendiste de este
HS: Los personajes, las escenas y los lugares parecen bastante reales… ¿Cuánto de él es basado en la vida o
personas real, y si es así cómo han reacionado las personas y amigos de cuales escribes en tu novela? ¿Te están
HS: La cosa de MTV reality te puso en la cara del mundo. ¿Cómo tu familia cubana reaccionó a esta fama? ¿Cómo te
afectó esa experiencia? ¿La harías otra vez?
HS: ¿Cuál ha sido la reacción de tus familia a tu libro y su opinión sincera sobre tu vida gay? ¿Cual reacción a tu éxito
personal y profesional ha habido de ellos?
HS: Comparame tu vida en Boston comparada a tu vida en Miami. ¿Qué te falta o extrañas? ¿Qué no extrañas?
HS: Pareces estar cómodo compartiendo tu vida como Latino gay con el mundo – lo cual te admiro. ¿Esto te viene
naturalmente? ¿… Tienes palabras de inspiracion para alguien que desea escribir con este nivel de honestidad sobre
HS: ¿Qué y quién te inspira personalmente y profesionalmente?- ...un novio, amigos, familia, trabajo, Coca-Cola de
HS: Boston Boys Club es tu primera novela, y realmente está recibiendo mucho exito, bien merecido. Entiendo que
estás trabajando actualmente en tu siguiente libro, Miami Manhunt. ¿Es una continuación de BBC y de sus personajes,
o un diverso ángulo en conjunto? ¿Cuándo podemos esperar que esta novela salga?
HS: ¿Cuándo vendrás a Miami para una presentacion de tu trabajo?
HS: ¿Dónde deseas estar en tu carrera en 5 años? ¿… En tu vida personal?
HS: ¿Qué le dirías a un escritor joven que intenta ser tan honesto como tu con él/ ella misma si espera tener éxito en la
HS: ¿Algún lamento?
JD: Johnny vive actualmente en Boston y lo puedes visitar su Web site: www.beantowncuban.com
Copyright Â© AMBIENTE MAGAZINE. Do not reproduce without citing this source.
AMBIENTE Magazine is a bilingual Hispanic
LGBT publication produced monthly,
offered free of charge to our readers
and distributed electronically around the globe.