What to make of the sudden revelation that two prominent lesbian bloggers, both activists, were really men?
Tom MacMaster, an American student studying in Scotland, his subject Middle Eastern Studies, created the blog “Gay Girl in Damascus” as a way to give himself a voice in the debates about what was going on in Syria, a voice others would believe. Well, he got more than he bargained for. The new found fame–when other people started reading the blog—went to his head, he admits, and he took the opportunity to start pushing his opinions, through Amina Arraf, on all sorts of things related to Syria. He wanted to make a difference and claimed that no one would listen to him as a white American male. His blog seemed to be recording life during the “Arab Spring”–a time that’s exciting everyone all over the world. Oddly, instead of a male protagonist, in Syria, he made his “character” a lesbian:
“It was part of the challenge of being someone who wasn’t me. It was a way of also drawing attention to things, I do think there is a certain orientalism, where we in the West tend to pay more attention to people that are like us, people we can relate to, someone marginalized is more interesting.
I also think I wanted to show that in Syria, too, there are people who are all different, gay, straight, people of every possible permutation.” (from the Washington Post)
When, in a dramatic turn of events in “Amina’s” life, MacMaster writes that she’s kidnapped, he suddenly got the world’s attention. People were noticeably upset about what was happening to this lesbian blogger in Syria. They wanted to help. The Post says that this is the moment when a blog that might have remained believable took a misstep. It was that Amina had so many supporters, so many people “she” had talked to, that they wanted to help her.