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Popular lesbian bloggers "outed" as straight men


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This has been making the news over the last week or so. I know it's not something to make light of, but I thought some of you might be interested in the drama.

The worst part is the people in Syria who potentially risked their lives trying to help "free" someone who never really existed.

A Syrian-American woman named Amina, living in Syria, began writing at a GLBT rights website called Lezgetreal. She went on to have her own blog, A Gay Girl in Damascus, which detailed her life and the political uprisings in Syria. She became more and more prominent, even getting some interviews with CNN and The Guardian. But never face to face.

Last week, someone claiming to be Amina's cousin said that she had been taken away by the police forces in Syria. An international outcry followed, with the State Department contacted, and some in Syria risking themselves to try to find her.

Well, as the investigation went on, it turned out that the photos "Amina" had on her blog were of a woman in London who was shocked to learn about this blogger and told the press that the photos had clearly been taken from her Facebook. Meanwhile, "Amina's" girlfriend in Canada, who had been in contact with the press, also began to wonder about who "Amina" really was - she'd never been able to talk to her on the phone or see her.

Soon it was learned that "Amina" was actually a 40-year old American man, Tom McMaster, who was at school in Edinburgh, Scotland, with his wife, and is currently on vacation in the Middle East. He claims that he blogged as a female Syrian-American because he could never get anyone to take his views on the Middle East seriously as a white male. He also claims that he had the relationship with the Canadian woman to help him practice his persona, or something like that. His wife says she didn't know about any of this until a few days ago, when he told her. He was going to stop the blog by saying that "Amina" had been freed and was moving back to the States and would no longer be writing, but while he was on vacation, the "kidnapping" story took off.

Meanwhile, the founder of Lezgetreal, Paula Brooks, who first "met" "Amina" when "Amina" began writing for her site, got dragged into the drama, as some began to question whether any Paula Brooks existed. Well, it turns out that there IS a Paula Brooks, but that she had nothing to do with Lezgetreal. Her husband, Bill Graber, was using her name and image and story (she is deaf), for 3 years. He says that he wanted to help end DADT, and help those he knows who are gay and lesbian, and he thought pretending to be a lesbian would go along with this.

Graber and McMaster say that their both being straight, married men pretending to be lesbians is just a coincidence - they never knew about each other's true identities, and even flirted with each other, assuming the other was a lesbian.

It looks like Graber will be turning his site over to a woman who has worked on it for several years and was also left in the dark until now. Meanwhile, I won't be surprised if McMaster gets a book deal.




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