Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Straight male bloggers pretending to be lesbians?

Shocking news has emerged this week that not one man, but two, have been pretending to be lesbian bloggers on the internet.

Yesterday it was revealed that Tom McMaster, a married Scottish guy in his 40s was pretending to be a gay girl in Damascus, talking about the troubles in Syria. His deception only came to light when he suggested that Amina Abdallah Araf al Omari had been taken into custody by Syrian officials which generated a big campaign amongst the LGBT community in particular around the world to try to get "her" released.

Today it has been revealed that a second man, Bill Graber has been masquerading for three years as Paula Brooke on LezGetReal, and to add insult to injury, he was commenting yesterday on the story about Tom McMaster's deception.

There are suggestions in both cases from the men, that they felt that they would not be listened to so intently without this deception and that it was a way to raise the profile of the issues they wrote about. But frankly I don't buy that. It was a cynical ploy designed to attract a wider readership than they would otherwise manage as white middle-aged blokes. And it is only the anonymity of the internet that has let them both get away with it - until now at least.

I am insulted, angry and generally pretty vexed about this. It is hard enough living a world that sometimes struggles to contain its prejudice, hard enough in particular to raise awareness of the real issues facing some genuine gay women around the world - women like Brenda Namigadde for instance, without fakes and frauds muddying the water.

One genuine woman is hurting today, we are told, after learning that the Syrian woman she had been developing a long-term online relationship with, with a view to one day meeting properly, turned out to be a married bloke. There is no excuse for playing with people's feelings like that, it is not merely a case of using a touch of artistic licence to enable news to be covered in a different way as they may suggest, it is a disturbing, parasitic, cruel and damaging act of betrayal.

And ultimately it is an act that will make it more difficult in future for blogging gay women living in places around the world where their sexuality is an issue to find a readership to hear their stories.

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