Okay, short, and not so sweet. In less than a week two supposedly gay women have turned out to be middle aged white men. This is tragic for a lot of reasons. I can understand the fun and power of writing as someone else, hell for three years I wrote in the voice a talking dog so I do get it. The thing is if you are a guy, stop freaking writing as a woman and especially as a gay woman.
Yes, straight men, we all get it. You like the idea of gay women (though I’ve always found it strange that so many men would be interested in women who are not interested in their, ahem, plumbing), really everyone knows that. However even if your desire is to bring a spot light to LGTB issues, doing it under the guise of a gay woman is not the right thing to do.
Tom McMasters, who was blogging as “A Gay Girl in Damascus”, was trying to bring light to the issues of Syria and the gay community. It seems that Bill Graber, the editor and publisher of Lez Get Real is also not a bad guy (with the exception of his penchant for pretending to be a gay woman) and claims that he took the name Paula Brooks because he was afraid when he started the blog that no one would take him seriously as a man talking about lesbian issues.
He has a point that it would be harder to gain traction as someone who is naturally outside the niche that he wanted to blog about, but that does not mean he has to be perpetrate a hoax against all his contributors and readers. Good writing and good caring advocacy trump identity over time.
I am not gay, but I write about issues of gender and sexual identity discrimination all the time. I don’t (except for the three years that I hid from my very conservative company that I was a blogger) feel the need to be anyone but myself.
I recognize that I don’t have the same insight that people living with these issues do, but at the same time I have friends and family and acquaintances that are gay. I’ve worked and lived with them my whole life and as such I am not going to just stand by while people make their life harder over who they are sexually attracted too.
Bill Graber and Tom McMasters could have taken this route. They could have been honest about who they were and still done the work. It would have been harder but it also would have been more honest. How is anyone who has read their work to know what was the scam and what was real at this point? Any good they might have done for the LGTB community is wiped away by the fraud they used.
I don’t talk a lot about white privilege, mostly because I am white and it would be like going to a fish to have him describe and critic water. When you swim in it everyday, you are not going to be as aware of it as someone that falls in and drowned by it. However I do see this as an example of it. Or maybe it should be called Straight Privilege.
What we have here are two white guys running up against that fact that their gender and sexuality are going to make it harder for them to have an impact in a certain area. So instead of busting their asses to build their credibility to speak in this area, they take on the role of a someone who automatically has some credibility. The expectation that it is okay to do this just screams that they feel entitled to jump to the head of the queue with their opinions.
I single out Bill Graber of “Lez Get Real” as the more heinous of the two. Mostly due to his of his long term hoax of not just the readers but his contributors. When the Washington Post was trying to find the Gay Girl in Damascus they looked at Graber’s Paula Brooks as the real writer. Then he did a really skeevey thing. From the Washington Post article:
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.
On Monday, we continued to question her identity. We spoke to the man who identified himself as her father, who finally admitted after numerous telephone conversations:I am Paula Brooks. That man turned out to be Bill Graber.
I actually understand that when cornered most people are going to try to lie to cover it up. That is part of why things are so bad for Rep. Anthony Weiner, but when you are being called and asked about your identity by the Washington Post, you probably should just come clean. They are not just going to give up and go away.
Mr. Graber says that he is an advocate for gay rights. He says he started blogging about it to support friends of his who are gay. The problem is that if you are going to try to become a voice for change, you have to do it in your own voice. The internet offers a ton of ways to be anonymous, but as long as one is anonymous you can’t really make it to the big leagues and truly influence things.
He knew this when he choose a real name instead of some kind of pseudonym for his blog. He chose his wife’s name and built a person that is not real. Anytime that he talked about what Paula felt, anger, happiness, frustration it was never real, even if Graber felt that way himself.
So, for all those guys out there, and frankly for everyone else, if you want to be an advocate for an issue, then do it, do it in your own name if you can, but dont lie about who and what you are to gain an instant audience. If you do, you might achieve some positive things but in the end it will all come to nothing. Your castle will be built on pillars of sand and sooner or later the tide will come and bring it down around your ears.
The floor is yours.