I was caught up in Lez Get Real Deception
by Sue on Sat 18 Jun 2011 11:13 AM EDT | Permanent Link | Cosmos
By now, you may have heard of the scandal involving two white heterosexual men posing as lesbian bloggers. One of whom was an editor that recruited me to contribute to the blog, LezGetReal.com
When Syrian-American lesbian blogger Amina Araf was allegedly taken into custody by government authorities, we eventually learned that Amina was really an American man named Tom McMasters. A straight man.
One of "Amina's" biggest supporters, was Paula Brooks editor of LezGetReal. As folks realized that no one had actually met Brooks either (like "Amina"), suspicions were raised and we learned that "Paula" is another straight white married man named Bill Graber. A retired construction worker from Ohio.
This story is unbelievable, but it is true. Both men claim they were trying to help the LGBTQ community. Instead, they have done incredible damage to the credibility of bloggers and other online media sources around the world, especially LGBTQ sources.
I was duped. When Graber, posing as Paula Brooks, approached me about contributing to the site, I checked out the site content and agreed. I haven't contributed too often and most of it has been crossposted from my own blog. But "Paula" pursued me to write about Pennsylvania politics on a more consistent basis. I just didn't have the time.
But I am aghast to be associated with this duplicity. And I'm so sorry that I didn't exercise more due diligence before I pointed you in the direction of LezGetReal for information. It was all based on fraudulent conduct. The information may still be good, but it is a slap in the face of LGBTQ bloggers everywhere.
There's debate over the extent of damage the deceptions crafted by McMasters and Graber have caused. For the new editors at LezGetReal, their is a need to grapple with the personal violatioin and restore the site's credibility.
To be honest this hasn't really registered locally. Marty Griffin hasn't been camped out at Lesbian Central to catch me on film. No one insists I skype them to verify I'm a lesbian. I haven't seen interviews with former compadres who have fingers to point about my sordid heterosexual past (I came out at 28 so there is one.)
To put things in context, my colleague Chris Potter of Slagheap (and the only one who did notice enough to poke at me about it) had this to say:
For me? Well, I'm not a straight white man. I did get duped by one, but it doesn't change my overall opinion of straight white men. Like Santorum. And Gingrich. And Metcalfe. Oh ....
On a more serious note, I will no longer be contributing to LezGetReal because I just have concerns about what is happening in the wake of this revelation - there's a lot of emotion driven decision making. I am fortunate enough to belong to a national LGBTQ blogging group so I've met many of the other bloggers live and in person. I met Pam, Bill and Jeremy along with others so I don't have qualms about contributing to their sites or attributing their writing. I'm under no illusion that John Morgan is a lesbian so that's all good. But I will have to rethink a few things, too.
Credibility is a serious issue for the LGBTQ community. For our community, the mainstream media coverage is pretty skimpy, although getting better. Blogging and citizen journalism are significant tools in the struggle for equality, both here in the US and across the world. We can't afford for even the most well-intentioned ally to play these types of games. There are reasons McMasters and Graber made their choices instead of simply lending their skills and talents to actual lesbian bloggers.
Lots of blog decisions to be made in the near future.
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