By Neal Broverman
Originally published on Advocate.com June 13 2011 7:15 PM ET
After the plight of a gay Syrian woman proved to be a hoax, another high-profile "lesbian" has been outed as a heterosexual man — this time it's "Paula Brooks," the editor of three-year-old lesbian news site Lez Get Real.
Two Washington Post reporters were working on an article about the unmasking of Amina Arraf, a nom de plume for a 40-year-old straight man named Tom MacMaster, who captivated readers with the blog A Gay Girl in Damascus. MacMaster chronicled the Syrian government's oppression through the fictional stories of Arraf, and last week he intimated she was kidnapped by having a "cousin" write that Arraf was hauled away by authorities.
The Post reporters quoted Brooks for their piece on Arraf because Arraf and the Lez Get Real editor corresponded; Arraf also wrote pieces for Lez Get Real (the fact that Arraf was a man was a surprise to "Brooks" as much as it was to everyone else — the two men actually flirted with each other over email). Eventually, the Post reporters, Melissa Bell and Elizabeth Flock, were able to reveal Brooks's true identity.
"'Brooks' had told reporters at The Washington Post that she could only speak on the phone through her father because she was deaf. She provided a photograph of her license as proof of her identity, which showed a woman named Paula Brooks," according to the newspaper. After repeatedly questioning the identity of Brooks, Bill Graber — a 58-year-old Air Force veteran and retired construction worker from Ohio — came clean and admitted he was "Paula Brooks." The driver's license was that of Graber's wife, Paula Brooks, who had no idea her husband was using her identity to run a lesbian website.
Graber said he the website was "done with the best intentions" and that he was inspired to launch it after seeing lesbian friends suffer discrimination and because he wanted to see "don't ask, don't tell" repealed. The website will likely be handed over to one of its lesbian writers, Graber told the Post.