"Gay Girl in Damascus" Actually An American Dude In Edinburgh

Illustration for article titled Gay Girl in Damascus Actually An American Dude In Edinburgh

Last week, the blogosphere reacted with concern over the alleged kidnapping of Amina Araff, "an out lesbian blogger who wrote about her daily life in Damascus, Syria.

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According to a post on her eponymous blog dated June 6, Amina was kidnapped by strangers as she ran errands. Petitions went up around the internet. People grew concerned.

But then, suspicion grew that Amina may not be a real blogger at all. As we reported earlier this week, Amina's story didn't hold up, and none of the updates on Amina's blog (allegedly posted by relatives) could be corroborated by Syrian media.

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Today, the speculation is over, as it turns out a Gay Girl in Damascus is actually a guy named Tom MacMaster who lives in Istanbul, Turkey Edinburgh. In a post MacMaster wrote as an apology to his readers,

I never expected this level of attention. While the narrative voıce may have been fictional, the facts on thıs blog are true and not mısleading as to the situation on the ground. I do not believe that I have harmed anyone — I feel that I have created an important voice for issues that I feel strongly about.

I only hope that people pay as much attention to the people of the Middle East and their struggles in thıs year of revolutions. The events there are beıng shaped by the people living them on a daily basis. I have only tried to illuminate them for a western audience.

He never thought the blog would get attention, but he wanted to use it to bring attention to problems in the Middle East? It always helps your case when you contradict yourself within the first 100 words.

That, my friends, is what I call a non-apology, a self-righteous justification for, quite frankly, reprehensible behavior. What about the fact that real time and energy was expended on trying to locate "Amina?" What about the fact that those resources, that time and energy, would have been better spent on real problems in the Middle East? What about the real pain and worry that people felt about a non-real person getting his jollies by writing a fake blog?

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Show's over, folks. Nothing to see here. Just another jerk lying about themselves on the internet.

Earlier

Apology to Readers [Gay Girl in Damascus]

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DISCUSSION

I feel sorry for Jelena Lecic and 'Amina's' online Canadian girlfriend who was campaigning for 'her' release. I would be less than impressed if my picture was all over the media under another identity, especially one that could cause me harm. I would be gutted if I was to discover that the person I was in love with was a hoax.

Yet I am neither of these women.

However, as an Arab woman, I am extremely offended that there is some kind of idea that he did us some kind of favor. Thank you very much, but we do not need a Western male who knows nothing about Arab problems ''speaking'' as us, on our behalf.

Speak about us. Write as a Western male concerned with the Arab plight.

But by speaking on our behalf you are rendering us invisible. By saying this, you are disempowering us, not empowering us. You have discounted the millions of Syrian and/or Arab voices out there saying, ''you are not good enough''. We have to have a fabricated account making your problem palatable to Western audiences. You are saying that *my* actual voice is not good enough.

How can his story be a substitute for the truth? This man is not offering the truth. You are in essence choosing a fabricated truth over actual truth!?

Am I saying that Western men can never help us get our voices across? Talk to a real life Syrian! Talk to an Arab person and base your accounts on real voices and real people. We are not unicorns. We exist. Are we so exoticized and othered that you can't even comprehend that we exist for real? Why are we so undervalued and insignificant that you need to create a persona to get our plight across?

Maybe there are Arab women (and men) out there who believe that he did a positive thing. I, however, am not one of them.