Gay Pulitzer Prize-Winning Reporter Jose Antonio Vargas Comes Out as ‘Undocumented Immigrant’

Jose Antonio Vargas, a gay journalist who won a Pulitzer Prize for his coverage of the Virginia Tech shootings in the Washington Post, has written a stunning piece for the NYT in which he comes out as an "undocumented immigrant."

Vargas Writes Vargas:

I’m done running. I’m exhausted. I don’t want that life anymore.

So I’ve decided to come forward, own up to what I’ve done, and tell my story to the best of my recollection. I’ve reached out to former bosses  and employers and apologized for misleading them — a mix of humiliation and liberation coming with each disclosure. All the people mentioned in this article gave me permission to use their names. I’ve also talked to family and friends about my situation and am working with legal counsel to review my options. I don’t know what the consequences will be of telling my story.

Part of the piece discusses his other coming out:

Later that school year, my history class watched a documentary on Harvey Milk, the openly gay San Francisco city official who was assassinated. This was 1999, just six months after Matthew Shepard’s body was found tied to a fence in Wyoming. During the discussion, I raised my hand and said something like: “I’m sorry Harvey Milk got killed for being gay. . . . I’ve been meaning to say this. . . . I’m gay.”

I hadn’t planned on coming out that morning, though I had known that I was gay for several years. With that announcement, I became the only openly gay student at school, and it caused turmoil with my grandparents. Lolo kicked me out of the house for a few weeks. Though we eventually reconciled, I had disappointed him on two fronts. First, as a Catholic, he considered homosexuality a sin and was embarrassed about having “ang apo na bakla” (“a grandson who is gay”). Even worse, I was making matters more difficult for myself, he said. I needed to marry an American woman in order to gain a green card.

Tough as it was, coming out about being gay seemed less daunting than coming out about my legal status. I kept my other secret mostly hidden.

Read the whole thing here.

My Life as an Undocumented Immigrant [nyt]


  1. romeo says

    Admitting that he’s undocumented removes the protections against inquiry. Don’t know why he would handle it this way because he’ll almost certainly be deported despite his accomplishments. The Feds will not want to be seen showing favoritism in a high-profile case like this.

  2. AG says

    …he’ll almost certainly be deported despite his accomplishments. The Feds will not want to be seen showing favoritism in a high-profile case like this.

    Obama’s aunt disagrees.

  3. Rowan says

    We show favoritism all the time in the UK-sometimes with good intentions I.e if the person has served the community etc and bad-if the person has $$$.

  4. johnny says

    So apply for citizenship, take the tests already and be legal.


    When people who do get citizenship properly and legally number in the thousands, why should anyone else be treated “special”. I’m sorry, but I don’t understand the logic of hiding and then asking for special dispensation.

    I don’t have a problem with ANYONE coming into the U.S. and living here on a permanent basis, but just do it legally like everyone else who immigrated the right way instead of surreptitiously.

  5. Rick says

    AG – Obama’s aunt filed for Asylum in 2002 and met the same standard (fear of persecution) any other applicant would face. People have been granted Asylum under that same standard by showing a fear of persecution based on sexual orientation, for example. I guess baseless outrage is more fun than critical thinking.

  6. MammaBear says

    Did any of those who commented read the article?

    “So apply for citizenship, take the tests already and be legal.


    Brilliant. I bet he wishes somebody as understanding and wise like our Johnny had spoken to him years ago.

  7. Rick says

    Johnny – there is only one easy way to immigrate to the USA, a heterosexual marriage. Even under this “easy” method, it takes several years to become a citizen. Aside from marriage (which means ONLY heterosexual marriage for immigration purposes, thanks to DOMA), our immigration system is famously dysfunctional and I defy anyone to conclude it is doing anything other than creating a permanent underclass of undocumented (cheap!) labor. It is not possible for anyone to “apply for citizenship, take the test,” and so on, as easily as you seem to think it is; you have clearly never had an immigrant in your life.

  8. AG says

    So apply for citizenship, take the tests already and be legal.


    Johnny, do you really think that 10+ million illegal aliens just don’t feel like applying for citizenship because the tests are too hard or something? Don’t you think that you need to know just a little bit about the topic before commenting on it? Like maybe reading the linked article at least?

  9. Brian says

    I don’t care that he’s gay or that he’s an accomplished writer. He came here illegally – period. Deport him. His sexuality is irrelevant.

    It’s a slap in the face to all the people who did the right thing and waited in line for their turn to come here legally.

    For all you super liberal queens who disagree with me, I couldn’t care less, so comment away.

  10. MammaBear says

    Super cool that you don’t care that he’s gay or an accomplished writer Brian. Good for you to be able to separate that from what’s right and good.

    Do you care that his mother shipped him to the US when he was 12, or did you read that far? And just so we understand your metaphor, who is slapping the people who did the right thing in the face- his mom? His 12 year old self? Super liberal queens?

    Seriously, get a grip and grow some humanity.

  11. Steve says

    Thanks, MAMMABEAR. I too am surprised to see the immigrant haters here.

    For those of us who have close friends (and lovers) who are undocumented, this is a wrenching situation. My partner is undocumented, though he has legal status through a fake name/SSN, and it’s a daily ordeal.

    You all make it sound as if all they have to do is fill out a form and get in line. The reality of La Migra is very different. The U.S. is openly hostile to many immigrants, unless you’re rich and white. I have watched an immigration official throw my mother-in-law’s passport to her after granting her access to this “free” country.

  12. Brian says

    Deat Mammmabear:

    Maybe I’d have a little more compassion if 12,000,000 other Latinos weren’t crying the same thing. It’s the same “boo-hoo” argument every time. But 12,000,000 undocumented people = a major problem. And continuing to make excuses doesn’t solve the problem.

    PS – the vast majority of those millions of undocumented people are straight and probably hate you simply because, like me, you’re gay.

  13. MammaBear says


    Sorry for whatever in your experience made you unable to feel compassion for Mr. Vargas.

    Your “argument” gets a little tiresome too, in its many forms, like: “why should I care about ‘Black’ issues, they don’t support gay rights”, and “why should I care about the Palestinians, they hate gays”, and “why should I care about the gays, they don’t respect the family” etc., etc., etc.

  14. Jeremy says

    What is this, a meritocracy? He can stay because he is an accomplished writer? Because he won a Pulitzer? That’s ridiculous. There should be some form of punishment that he receives. I totally agree with what Brian stated in his first post. It has nothing to do with hating/bashing immigrants and everything to do with following the law.

  15. BA says

    Brian, “12,000,000 other Latinos”? Jose Antonio Vargas is Filipino. Seriously, did you read the article. I mean, it’s a good article. Maybe you should consider reading it.

  16. melvin says

    Unbelievable comments. I suppose you would say the same about my friend who was brought here from Mexico at age 3 months, didn’t know about his legal situation until 15 years later, and does not even speak Spanish? There is only one anthem he has sung and one flag he has saluted.

  17. MammaBear says


    Nobody says he should stay because he is a good writer or Pulitzer winner. Nobody says that. Even Brian has got that part right.

    Where we are disagreeing, is that you and Brian think he needs to be punished because his mom shipped him to the US when he was 12. The logic behind your thinking is unclear.

    It seems to have something to do with 12 million other (?) latinos who hate me and Brian because we’re gay.

  18. Jeremy says

    Latinos are not the only immigrant group coming into this country illegally. He may not have committed the crime, however, he did realize his situation at some point; in 1996 to be exact.
    So he could of handled the situation then and there, spend some money on an attorney and worked it out. Yet he did everything but that.

  19. MammaBear says

    You’re right Jeremy.

    Just remind us what problem you think is being solved by deporting him for not being smart enough, rich enough, brave enough to do the right thing (?) at the age of 16 in 1996.

    Things are pretty simple where you and Brian sit.

  20. jaragon says

    Are we suppose to feel sorry for this guy? He has the brains to solved this problem a long time ago this sound like some sort of let’s create sympathy for the illegal alien invasion ooops sorry the “undocumented immigrant” issue

  21. Robert says

    I am astonished by the lack of compassion in some of these comments. Whether you think he should be deported or not, how can you as human beings not recognize how heart wrenching his situation is: “I grew up here. This is my home. Yet even though I think of myself as an American and consider America my country, my country doesn’t think of me as one of its own.”

    The DREAM act was written for people like this young man. He was brought to this country as a child, he went to college, he’s worked hard, he’s contributed to our society, and achieved more than than most of us ever will (a Pulitzer prize) before the age of 30. Our government should be finding ways to allow people in situations like this to remain here and continue to contribute to our nation, rather than sending him back to a country he doesn’t know and didn’t grow up in and have him live there for 10 years before he can try to come back here.

    The DREAM act can’t pass because Republicans are too busy playing to their racist, xenophobic base. The result is a tragedy for millions of children and young adults, like this young man, and a tragedy for our nation too.

  22. Jeremy says


    He doesn’t have to be deported but he should face some consequence; jail time, military time, and/or fine. He should have made a plan so when he turned 18 he could have done something about it. If his family told him otherwise, then they are subject to consequence as well.
    I’m for compassion, but I’m for the law and equality. Yes, he is very accomplished and has been a productive member of society, but that does not excuse his knowledge of his wrong-doing; continuing to live here illegally once he became aware of it.
    If he was someone for conservative causes, would you feel the same?

  23. Person says

    Wow, I have nothing to say about the comments already made. I am currently a legal immigrant, but was illegal and did not know it until I was 18. I’m “smart” and “made a plan” to become legal.
    Unfortunately that plan did not include my 18 year old self getting swindled out of tens of thousands of dollars TWICE by crooked immigration lawyers and watching the police confiscate all my paperwork, never to be seen again, forcing me to start over.
    Even if you are well informed and do not need a lawyer, the entire process itself costs thousands of dollars in filing fees. Think about what that money may mean to someone with a family and/or health problems.
    This also does not take into account the tremendously invasive questions they ask that would be illegal to ask in any other setting. “Have you ever directly OR indirectly been involved with Communism?”, “Have you ever committed a crime for which you were not punished?” I suggest you peruse the form.
    If you have no family who are citizens then marriage is the “easy” way – if you’re straight or comfy in straight skin. Otherwise there is only work petitioning – which, upon closer inspection, is Indentured Servitude (ever hear of it, Americans?).
    I thought it was illegal in the US to punish a child for their parents’ crimes? Since when is law=morality? I do not think I need to go over this here.
    And finally: unless you are from Europe, the majority of us immigrants did not come here “by choice”, again, reading about American foreign policy and imperialism is in order.

  24. jaragon says

    You are right the children of illegal aliens are innocent victims of their parents actions.
    But Nobody forces you to come to this country and if you are going to live here you should follow the rules like everyone else.

  25. Neil says

    He was brought to the US as a child and discovered his status later. Now there is no “right way” for him to immigrate or legalize his status—no line to get in or test to take.

  26. MammaBear says


    How he feels about me, or conservative causes, is irrelevant. Yes, of course I would feel the same way I do if the circumstances were the same but he had turned out to be Rush Limbaugh or some Go Proud type.

    And what you feel is a reasonable punishment is also irrelevant, unless you are a majority of supreme court justices and can change the law? It’s great that you would only going to exact prison time or military service, but you may not get to weigh in.

    That you can read Vargas’ account of how he came to this point and be this judgmental blows my mind. Can’t imagine the kind of integrity with which a person like you must live his or her life. Good for you.

  27. Jeremy says

    You can say whatever you want to make yourself feel good but that still does not excuse the fact that he broke the law. Or is it that you don’t care about American law? Are you in the group of American students and individuals lagging in history and civics? 
    He knowingly took forged documents to companies, such as the Washington Post, Huffington Post, etc, and now exposed them to investigation, along with individuals who he had friendships/relationships with.  Do you realize that this man has been in White House for social events? Do you know how this makes the security team look? So for you consider all that as irrelevant is quite shocking.

  28. MammaBear says

    Jeremy, nothing about this makes me feel good. Not Vargas getting punished for being in a totally no win situation from the time he was 12, not you and Brian and many, many angry others thinking he’s somehow typical of the what is dragging America down. That’s all.

  29. Terry says

    I agree with one of the previous posters. If this guy was a conservative who worked for Focus On The Family, or any other right-wing group people would be screaming to have his ass deported and to follow the law. Today NY is voting to enact a “LAW” that grants marriage rights to gays and lesbians. I expect that if passed all of us, including employers, renters, the government, etc., will be expected to follow and obey those laws. You just can’t pick and choose which laws we enforce, but in this case our political officials have kicked this can way to far down the road and enough is enough.

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