Lesbians Betrayed by Rash of Reporter Imposters
BY Advocate Contributors
August 09 2011 4:00 AM ET
Major media outlets like The New York Times and the U.K.’s Guardian followed the musings of Amina Arraf, the Syrian-American writer behind the blog A Gay Girl in Damascus. So when her abduction in Syria was reported June 6 by someone claiming to be Arraf’s cousin, the news took the world by storm, even prompting an investigation by the U.S. State Department.
Backlash soon followed when it was revealed that Arraf was actually a man, American peace activist Tom MacMaster, and that the abduction was nothing more than an Internet hoax. During its investigation of the incident, The Washington Post revealed another bombshell when it reported that Paula Brooks, the editor of American lesbian website Lez Get Real — who was briefly suspected to be the writer behind Damascus — was also a man, activist Bill Graber.
The revelations outraged LGBT activists in the U.S., who feared that the deceptions would discredit lesbians and arouse suspicions about legitimate bloggers.
The impersonators, who even carried on a flirtatious relationship with each other online, have both apologized, saying they were attempting to raise awareness about global LGBT issues.
But while MacMaster claimed his intentions were good, his deception put at least one person in danger, as the photos he used to depict his persona were taken from the Facebook account of Jelena Lecic, a British woman who did not learn of her involvement until the story broke.