On the internets, nobody knows you’re a dawg… until you get caught humping a fantasy:
A second supposedly leading lesbian blogger was exposed as a man masquerading as a gay woman, a day after the Gay Girl in Damascus blog was revealed to be the fictional creation of a married male student from Edinburgh.
Paula Brooks, who claimed to be the executive editor of a US-based lesbian site LezGetReal.com, told the Washington Post that “she”, too, was a man – in this case, a 58-year-old retired construction worker from Ohio called Bill Graber…
Challenged on Monday by the Washington Post, Graber said he had started the blog after witnessing the mistreatment of close lesbian friends.
“I didn’t start this with my name because … I thought people wouldn’t take it seriously, me being a straight man,” he said. He said his interaction with Amina was purely coincidental, “a major sock-puppet hoax crash[ing] into a major sock-puppet hoax.”
Amina often “flirted” with Brooks, the paper said – with neither man apparently realising that the other was also a man pretending to be a lesbian.
Apparently some people are not aware of all internet traditions… or at least they prefer to ignore them when looking online for ‘inspiration’.
To give Graber his due, at least his “Brooks” fiction didn’t put well-meaning actual people living under the real-world control of the Syrian government at risk of exposure, imprisonment, and/or torture:
Sami Hamwi, the pseudonym for the Damascus editor of GayMiddleEast.com, wrote: “To Mr MacMaster, I say shame on you!!! There are bloggers in Syria who are trying as hard as they can to report news and stories from the country. We have to deal with too many difficulties than you can imagine. What you have done has harmed many, put us all in danger, and made us worry about our LGBT activism. Add to that, that it might have caused doubts about the authenticity of our blogs, stories, and us.
“Your apology is not accepted, since I have myself started to investigate Amina’s arrest. I could have put myself in a grave danger inquiring about a fictitious figure. Really … Shame on you!!!”
“What a waste of time when we are trying so hard to get news out of Syria,” another Damascus activist told the Guardian.
“Exposing new forms of liberal Orientalism“, my pale flabby arse; white male (Mac)Masters of the Universe granting themselves permission to speak for oppressed women of ‘exotic’ cultures (since the poor dears obviously aren’t competent to do so for themselves) was stale when Burton channeled Sheherazade.
(h/t commentor Scav)
Do. Not. Believe. Anything. On. The. Internet. You. Cannot. Independently. Verify. We still don’t have any solid evidence John Cole is real. Now do we? DO WE??
This is like the death of a long-ailing loved one. Totally predictable and yet still entirely shocking…
I’ll take Cis White Male Appropriation for… oh, fuck it, why bother? Same shit, different day. And people wonder why women like me get really touchy about male privilege.
The world needs more straight men being open and honest about their disgust of homophobia precisely because we’re the people who are taken seriously.
But When Worlds Collide, […], “I’m gonna give you some terrible thrills …
Such strenuous living, I just don’t understand when in just seven days I can make you a girl.
I’m not sure if a 40-year-old postgraduate and a retired construction worker are the Masters of much of anything. I can’t get too mad at people who are trying to help, even if it’s in a poorly-thought-out way.
Sarah Proud and Tall
As a proudly fictional character, I (and my creator) can understand the pleasure and freedom that comes from creating something which is not-you and from the ability to say things that the “real” you might not say or be able to get away with saying.
I don’t understand, however, the motivation of these men in creating a character that is presented to the world as real. I think (hope?) there is a substantive difference between creating a character and creating a “real” person with whom others become emotionally involved, particularly in a sensitive situation like the one in Syria.
I suspect it’s like the difference between a drag act and identity theft.
I also don’t know how these guys thought they were going to get away with it – particularly faking a relationship with someone and announcing a kidnapping – or what they thought would happen when they got found out.
Sarah clearly is doing it the right way, which none of this blog’s other alleged front pagers can say.
Come on, admit it. Everything on this blog is written by Tunch.
What’s funny is that more people seem to be freaked out about a straight actress on Glee wearing a “Likes Girls” T-shirt than any of this.
The trolls must therefore be Rosie exacting further revenge on John for ever even thinking about crate training.
Those who take “citizen journalism” seriously are nutters. It’s fucking internet after all.
“When Burton channeled Sheherazade” is one of the more bizarre overreaches I’ve ever seen on a rational blog.
Burton translated fascinating stories to audiences unfortunate enough not to know Arabic, just like earlier translators brought the stories to Arabia from China. I’m not seeing any malfeasance there.
Pretty sure everybody knew Sheherazade was a fictional character.
I’m really not seeing any good reason for the outrage over the Syrian lesbian blogger story, either. The best I can tell is that some people who are inclined to passionate emotions overidentified with ‘her’ and now they feel like their emotions were manipulated. Since you experienced absolutely zero negative ramifications, what’s the BFD?
Mika doesn’t think it’s nice to call the debaters crazy.
@stuckinred: What should we call them?
@Snarla: I thought Anne Laurie was referencing some event from Burton’s life I had never heard of. Burton had some sins, but when he went to Mecca, for example, he did so at the serious risk of his life. That took some guts, even if there is a creepy orientalist aspect to it.
What I would give for
half one quarterone tenth of Burton’s linguist abilities.
In any case, how do his translations contrast to others’?
Swell. Life imitates America Online.
These online romances, by the way, make the guys’ self-justifications fall flat. Nothing about their blogging projects or the so-called “authenticity of their voices” requires them to conduct fictitious flirtations. They look like just another couple of middle aged men getting their jollies posing as a lesbian on the Internet, and they’re a dime a dozen.
ETA: A middle aged white man insisting on speaking for the oppressed people of Syria fro mthe safety and comfort of freakin’ Scotland is the very essence of “liberal Orientalism.“ What a jackass.
By the way, there was nothing stopping MacMaster from posing as a gay man in Damascus, was there? Wouldn’t that have made the same point?
More likely that he didn’t like the idea of receiving public attention as a straight male speaking out about gay issues for fear it would have social repercussions or cause people to think he was gay.
I wrote a piece about this for The Rumpus yesterday that was later picked up by Jezebel. My main point is that white males are already considered the go-to group for expertise on just about any subject, so claiming that you need to take on the voice of a minority is, well, a pretty douchey thing to do.
I would have thought that the Egyptian revolution this winter would have awakened people to the fact that womens be knowin how to use the interwebs even in the Middle East. I don’t see this as an earnest desire to help, but some guy half a world away getting his jollies by playing dissident on the internet and the fact that he was putting actual dissidents in danger never seemed to occur to him. Jerkwad.
Isn’t just the Innertubz and that dreaded new-journalism when Repub candidates debate Obama look-alikes on national stations, now, is it?
@Brian S: You can’t be us, but we most certainly can be you. It’s that natural white male empathy that I’ve been hearing so much about.
Wow these guys are such pieces of shit. The world would be a much better place if people like this just kept on walking when they have the urge to “help”. Old white assholes like this know nothing about the endless suffering of minority groups(unless they caused it) and have no place trying to interfere with their march to freedom. The nerve of some white people.
Jay in Oregon
Well, you know that no struggle for civil rights is legitimate unless a straight white man is in charge. They’re just lending their white male privilege to the cause.
Jay in Oregon
@Sarah Proud and Tall:
That’s not what you told me the other night!
I thought we had something special… *sob*
I just hope Angry Black Lady isn’t really Cheerful White Gentleman.
If bloggers and feminists weren’t so damned willing to believe, to have their own preconceptions about men, society, and discrimination reinforced, then these guys would never have trolled everyone. It’s your own damn fault.
crybaby, which preconceptions that “bloggers and feminists” have about oppression in Syria are false?
Jay in Oregon
I’ll take “Blaming the Victims” for $300, Alex.
@Yutsano: How could you need anymore evidence regarding Mr. Cole, than Tunch the magnificent?