Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Not Who They Say They Are

Like some kind of blogging harmonic convergence, it’s been revealed that two prominent bloggers have been writing under false colors.

The first one was supposedly a lesbian reporting from Syria.

Six days after a post on the blog A Gay Girl in Damascus triggered panic among its readers by suggesting that the blog’s author, who claimed to be a Syrian-American lesbian caught up in the protest movement, had been detained in the Syrian capital, a new entry appeared on Sunday that described the entire online diary as a work of fiction by an American man.

The new post, headlined “Apology to Readers,” was signed by Tom MacMaster, a 40-year-old graduate student, who identified himself as “The sole author of all posts on this blog.” That would include four months of what appeared to be diary entries from Amina Abdallah Arraf, a self-described 35-year-old lesbian born and raised in the United States but now living in Damascus, and two posts attributed to Rania O. Ismail, a cousin of Ms. Arraf’s, who relayed news of her arrest to the blog’s readers last week.

Ironically, the second one came to light because of the first one.

Just one day after the author behind a popular Syrian lesbian blog admitted to being a married, American man named Tom MacMaster, the editor of the lesbian news site Lez Get Real, with the tag­line “A Gay Girl’s View on the World,” acknowledged that he is also a man.

“Paula Brooks,” editor of Lez Get Real since its founding in 2008, is actually Bill Graber, 58, a retired Ohio military man and construction worker who said he had adopted his wife’s identity online. Graber said she was unaware he had been using her name on his site.

Brooks’s identity came under suspicion after news broke that a woman called Amina Arraf on the blog “A Gay Girl in Damascus” might not really be a Syrian lesbian.

In the interest of full disclosure, I am a single gay man living in South Florida. Oh, wait, you already knew that. Sorry if I disappointed you.