Dan Waterhouse is one of Fresno’s premier investigative reporters, author of “Queer Eye” in the Community Alliance and “The Waterhouse Report” in the Community Link, the Valley’s monthly for the LGBT readership. I was delighted that he agreed to be on the other side of the questions.
Don is a rare columnist (unlike myself, for instance) willing to go beyond personal knowledge and opinion to seek out stories and research his facts. Hours scouring the Internet combine with his, literally, lifelong knowledge of Fresno and its inhabitants to
uncover hidden stories and unique angles. And while his initial journalistic “beat” was the gay community, his stories frequently delve into such locales as City Hall and Fresno State.
Dan’s interest in news came early. He says he was reading the San Francisco Chronicle by the age of 5. But his survival past infancy and his ability to put pen to paper are marvels of fate, persistence and medical intervention. His mother had nine pregnancies, but only Dan and one sibling came through to term. And when he was born, he was found to have severe neurological problems that inhibited manual dexterity and other muscular functions.
“I was a medical anomaly. The doctors could detect only 25% of normal brain activity. I was able to understand language and read, but I couldn’t speak aloud till I was eight and didn’t gain relatively normal movement skills till later.”
With the assistance of numerous therapists and his mother, who abetted his own will to overcome obstacles, he was able to enter mainstream schooling by seventh grade. “I was still obviously different, so of course I became the target of bullies and malicious comments.”
Although he hadn’t yet understood and embraced his gay orientation (this was still pre-Stonewall), he was sufficiently harassed
anyway to have acquired an acute sensitivity to the plight of “non-standard” children, and currently especially to youngsters who are gay or whose parents are same-gender.
Dan has been a writer for 30 or so years, first as a sportswriter for the City College and Fresno State papers, later as a document writer for CalTrans. Several years ago, he began having his letters printed in the Bee. He had already become involved with the Community Link as a copy editor, but seeing samples of Dan’s writing in print led Link editor Jeff Robinson to invite him to do a column. Thus “The Waterhouse Report” was born.
“At first, I just did profiles of LGBT organizations; but that only goes so far, and issues kept presenting themselves that I had an inside line on. Now I give myself latitude to write on whatever interests me.” He smilingly says that a couple of times he has scooped the Bee,” but because I write for monthlies, they’d usually get it out ahead of me. But now, with Internet providers like Indy Bay, I can sometimes beat them to the punch.”
Dan seems to get special enjoyment in catching politicians making statements in one context that they are not happy to have repeated in another. He cites examples with Henry Perea, Sr., on gay marriage and Brian Calhoun on the homeless. But with some controversial stories he has chosen to downplay information that he feels could be turned into, say, anti-gay propaganda.
His choices can also be affected by access to information. He says, for instance, that while the Fresno Fire Department has been cooperative toward his inquiries, the Fresno Police Department has not been. Even within the LGBT community, a public figure such as Dan can lose friends. “Some people just won’t talk to me any more,” he says with regret, “even though I’m not a leader or an opinion-maker. I see myself, basically, as a teller of stories…only the stories are fact-based.”
Dan says he has entertained thoughts of writing a book, not as a longtime observer of the Fresno scene (as I would have guessed) but in the mystery genre. Such ideas are on hold, however, as his focus has returned to his partner-in-marriage Tom, whose health problems have recently recurred.
Dan says he welcomes news tips from readers, but what he would appreciate most is occasional feedback, good or bad. For my part, I have been continually impressed by Dan’s coverage of behind-the-scenes Fresno, and am grateful for his persistence in raising thorny issues. If you enjoy his work here in the Alliance, check out “The Waterhouse Report” in the Community Link as well.
Contact Dan at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Name: Dan Waterhouse
Birthplace: Fresno, CA
Ethnic background: 1/2 German, 1/4 English, 1/4 French
(“where I get my temper from”)
Political affiliation: Registered Democrat
Hang-out areas: The Tower, CSUF, Old Fig
Inspirations: “My husband Tom, who keeps
Motto: “Whatever” (“go with the flow”)
Other interests: CSUF alumni association, collegiate
water polo and volleyball, photography
Unexpected pleasures: Sweets, swimming