Trendwatchers! Have you heard about the latest cool thing to do? Nope, I’m not talking about naked hiking (which sounds like a great way to get mosquito bites in really hard to explain places); I’m talking about Straight White Cismen Blogging As Fake Lesbians. It’s like Dungeons & Dragons, except instead of pretending you’re a level 32 Paladin fighting Orcs in your mom’s basement, you deceive an entire marginalized community into believing you’re one of them, when you’re actually part of the most privileged community on the planet! LOLz, amirite??
If you’re a sentient queer with access to the internet, television, or printed media, then you’ve probably already heard about the big reveal this week that Amina Arraf, the Syrian lesbian author of the popular blog “A Gay Girl in Damascus” is actually some random straight white American dude living in Scotland. Tom MacMaster, this hetero cisman in dyke clothing, was
so very apologetic when he was caught in his unbelievable lie a pompous, defensive asshat, writing:
I never expected this level of attention. While the narrative voice may have been fictional, the facts on this blog are true and not misleading as to the situation on the ground. I do not believe that I have harmed anyone — I feel that I have created an important voice for issues that I feel strongly about.
I only hope that people pay as much attention to the people of the Middle East and their struggles in this year of revolutions. The events there are beıng shaped by the people living them on a daily basis. I have only tried to illuminate them for a western audience.
Oooh, I get it now! He wasn’t trying to co-opt the voice of an oppressed minority whose struggles he could never even begin to understand. He wasn’t trying to create a completely fictional person that thousands of people felt solidarity with and admired. He wasn’t trying to steal the private photos of a stranger in London, nor was he trying to carry on a deceptive online relationship with an actual lesbian in Canada. And certainly, he wasn’t trying to waste the time, money, and concern of all the people who tried to find Amina after her “cousin” (spoiler alert: also MacMaster) posted that she was kidnapped by government security forces. No harm intended, people! MacMaster just loves Middle Eastern dykes so much that he needed to mansplain the “issues” of a group that he is in no way a member of or associated with. We little women just can’t handle the stress of blogging about our own lives, you see, so we need Mr. White Man’s Burden to come to our rescue and make shit up. What a prince.
In a new Guardian article, MacMaster admitted that he “liked the challenge” of writing from a queer WOC voice (hey buddy – for a real challenge, try living as one!) and also gave the absolute worst excuse ever for making up a fake kidnapping:
His post last Monday, in which he posed as a cousin of the blogger claiming she had been kidnapped by Syrian security services, “was, stupidly, my sort of ‘away message'”, written as he and his wife left for a holiday in Istanbul, he said.
BRB SMASHING STUFF HULK-STYLE.
At first, we all thought that this was just some isolated incident of douchebaggery, but it seems now that we have a FULL BLOWN LESBIAN E-CRISIS on our hands. Yesterday, it was revealed that all the digging around “A Gay Girl in Damascus” unearthed another turd: Paula Brooks, the editor of news site Lez Get Real since 2008, is actually Bill Graber, a 58-year-old married guy in Ohio who looks like someone I once saw on To Catch A Predator. THIS IS THE STUFF THAT MY NIGHTMARES ARE MADE OF. This newest outing is somehow even more disturbing, since Lez Gets Real has (or had, as the site appears to now be down) a whole section of user-submitted lesbian erotica and the thought of Billy Boy reading through those stories and doing whatever manner of unholy things makes me want to vomit up my Cinnamon Toast Crunch.
Graber, like MacMaster, just wanted to write about gay girl stuff so badly that he had to pretend to be one, as he explained: “I thought people wouldn’t take it seriously, me being a straight man.” (Cue Sad Trombone.) My heart goes out to this guy, because we all know how hard it is for the oft-silenced voice of the straight white male to be heard above the powerful din of the ruling queer female voices of the world. OH WAIT ACTUALLY FUCK HIM. Fuck this married-with-all-legal-benefits dude who posed as someone who can’t get married at all because of who she loves. Fuck this ex-military douchecopter who wrote about DADT as if it had ever threatened his Air Force career in the least. Fuck this clown who betrayed the trust of so many lonely and afraid women who came to his site looking for support from others like them. I think Autostraddle’s Riese put it best when she wrote: “CHECK YOUR MOTHERFUCKING PRIVILEGE.”
In case you haven’t noticed, all this nonsense has got me pretty riled up. It’s (understandably) bringing into question the authenticity of other lesbian sites and bloggers (if Heather Hogan turns out to be a 50-year-old father of three in Michigan, I will go on a rampage). Deciding what to share and what to keep private is the eternal struggle of every online writer and blogger, and I’m no exception. I like to think that I’m pretty open with you all – you get to know my real first name, age, and location, and even get to see the occasional devastatingly handsome photo. But there are some things – my last name, my (paid) profession/employer, the names of my loved ones – that I just don’t feel comfortable posting here. Is that dishonest of me? In the wake of these scandals, should we be demanding more transparency from bloggers, especially those purporting to represent minority communities? I just don’t know.
I can, however, promise you all this: I am – cross my queer little heart and hope to die – a real, honest-to-gosh, lady-lovin’, masculine-of-center, butch dyke lesbian outlaw. For life.