By: Shannon Ralph
This has proven to be an interesting week in the LGBT blogging world. Two prominent lesbian bloggers have “come out” as straight, married men. Monday—just one day after Tom MacMaster confessed to being “Gay Girl in Damascus” blogger “Amina Arraf”—the Washington Post reported that “Paula Brooks”, founder and executive editor of lesbian and gay news site LezGetReal.com, was actually 58-year-old Bill Graber.
The general reaction to the revelation of MacMaster’s and Graber’s actual identities has, not surprisingly, been one of outrage and frustration. So what caused these two men to perpetrate their ruse? In the case of Graber, his motive was partly vanity. He told NPR that he was “extremely flattered and impressed with (himself)” when he realized that his writing was “getting taken seriously.” He also indicated that he wanted to experiment with fiction writing. MacMaster has indicated that he simply wanted to call attention to issues that he did not feel he could write about as a straight man.
So here is the problem with the actions of these two men. First and foremost, they belong to the most privileged demographic group on the planet—straight white men. One only has to pick up a newspaper or turn on the television to see that the voices of straight white men are taken seriously in this world. There is no need—other than pure ego—for these men to infiltrate discussions where straight men typically are not viewed as an authority and pretend to be legitimate. Secondly, co-opting the voice of a minority brings all members of the minority under suspicion. Lesbian bloggers who are trying to tell our stories may find ourselves having to “prove” our identities. Or worse yet, having our stories dismissed as unreliable. With their irresponsible, egotistical, and flagrantly asinine actions, these two men are calling into question the legitimacy of any lesbian who dares to write about her experiences online. Any lesbian like me.