14 June 2011

The Gay Girl In Damascus: An American In Scotland

By now, you may have read reports that the Gay Girl in Damascus blog has been revealed to be the work of an American man studying in Scotland.

Predictably, many people have expressed outrage.  Some of them, I believe, were acting out of anger that throbbed when their egos were bruised from the blow of realizing they'd been had.  But others, I feel, have more legitimate reasons for their anger.

While it could be argued that the plight of gay people and activists in Syria was accurately portrayed, it's equally true that the revelation will make such people targets, if they are not already.  Worse, it strips them of their credibility in they eyes of many people.  So, the next time some gay activists writes of being harassed or tortured, some will dismiss it in the same way people in Aesop's fable dismissed the boy who cried "wolf!"

 I had a hard enough time getting the attention of anyone who could help after two cops ran me off the street, and nearly ran me over, after I ignored their calls of "Nice legs, honey.  Imagine how much worse it could have been if some blogger claimed a similar experience but turned out to be an investment banker living with his wife and kids in a gated community in Connecticut.  Forget about me, if you want to:  What would it be like for the next person who was subjected to homo- or trans-phobic violence?  Imagine trying to get help from people who'd just been spoofed with a story similar to yours.

The unfortunate thing is that the guy who posed as the Gay Girl in Syria will probably get of scot-free (no pun intended) while gay people and activists may suffer some of the things recounted in Gay Girl's blog. And no one will heed their calls for help.