|Straight men posing as lesbian bloggers can choke on their keyboards|
|Written by Dyana Bagby|
|Tuesday, 14 June 2011 16:43|
Good evening. My name is Dyana Bagby. I am a real lesbian and I write under my real name.
I just wanted to make this clear in case some of you had any doubts. And in light of an internet scandal that has rocked the gay — well, specifically, the lesbian — blogging world, those doubts would be understandable.
That "A Gay Girl in Damascus" blog you may have vested your time and emotions in, worrying about Amina Arraf as she wrote about participating in protests in the war-torn Syria, about surviving as a lesbian in such an oppressive regime, about how government officials apparently kidnapped her? Yeah, she's not real. "She" is a straight guy, Tom MacMaster, 40, married, from Stone Mountain, Ga. He fessed up after some in-depth reporting by the Washington Post after it and other news outlets became fascinated and concerned about this lesbian in Damascus facing possible violence because of who she is.
MacMaster is really sorry, he said. He had no idea things would get so far out of hand. He wouldn't be taken seriously if he wrote about what lesbians faced in Damascus as his real identity, he said. He really cared about these issues and while they were lies, they really did detail the truth of the plight of the people of Syria, he said.
Blah, blah, blah. People are pissed, as they should be.
The truth is, he's an asshole. Bottom line. He got his kicks lying to people in a forum where it is very, very easy to do — the internet. A white, straight man duped a whole host of lesbians with what he calls the blog now, "A Hoax." Thanks for that, Mr. MacMaster. I hope you choke on that masters degree you are supposedly working on in Scotland.
I don't accept his apology. And, frankly, right now I hate him.
And then comes the news that Paula Brooks, founder and editor of the lesbian blog Lez Get Real, is actually a straight man from Ohio. His name is Bill Graber, he's 58, and he's married to a woman. But he deeply cares about lesbian issues and he wanted more people to know about what we (well, actual lesbians) face and give us a voice.
“I didn’t start this with my name because... I thought people wouldn’t take it seriously, me being a straight man,” he told the Washington Post.
Hey, Mr. Graber — suck it. You are full of shit. And you know it.
What makes this whole Lez Get Real thing more surreal for me is that I've spoken with "Paula" a few times. "She" contacted me the day the other gay newspaper I worked for in Atlanta shut down with nothing more than a sign on the door.
Paula wanted me to write for her. Hell, she would love it if I took over the website someday, she told me through her translator (she was supposedly deaf). Of course I now know it was actually Bill Graber, a former military man and construction worker, pretending to be a lesbian blogger and her translator.
Here I was, so thankful to a lesbian who appreciated my work and it was really some sicko guy apparently thinking he was doing me — and countless others — a favor.
Paula worked for MSNBC, she told me. She could get me press passes. She knew Rachel Maddow. She was deaf, raising twin daughters after her longtime partner had died. I thought, "Man, this woman has gone through everything imaginable and all I am is unemployed. She's an inspiration."
From reading the website, however, the writing didn't impress me. But maybe I could have a place for my voice. I was unemployed and still knew I had stories to write.
While contemplating if I should start blogging for the site, I discussed this with my friend, Cheryl, from Oakland, Calif. She set me straight, so to speak, when I asked her opinion, "No," she said. "Just look at the name of the site. Lez Get Real? For real?" Or something like that. Did I want my name associated with a site with such a silly name? Thank goodness for smart friends in my life.
And that's what's most important to me and to all credible writers in the world — all we really have is our name, whether it's a byline in a newspaper or magazine, the name at the top of a blog post or next to anything you create that you want to share as a part of yourself and the world you live in. Our name is our bond to our readers.
When that doesn't count for anything anymore, I don't know what does.
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