Two days in a row we’ve been hit with the news that prominent blogs written by lesbian activists were actually written by men. The first instance of sock puppetry came to light when a young woman in London confronted the Guardian when she noticed they had been using her own personal Facebook pictures in a story they ran about a wildly popular blog called A Gay Girl in Damascus. Ostensibly it was written by a lesbian living in the Syrian capital, and its day-to-day observations of the turmoil there, and the tribulations a gay woman had to face in that society, had the world riveted. After the young woman whose identity was stolen came forward, a man named Tom MacMaster admitted he was behind the hoax.
The next day another prominent lesbian blogger’s facade came crumbling down. Lez Get Real recounted the quotidian life of a lesbian in the United States. A mother of two, deaf and only able to communicate through her father when asked to speak on the telephone, she also had a large number of followers. She had also communicated with A Gay Girl in Damscus on her site. But when the Syrian blogger’s identity was revealed, journalists at the Washington Post also got suspicious of Lez Get Real’s identity, and after discrepant information in background checks, they confronted her and she revealed that “she” was actually a “he” named Bill Graber.
In an astounding bit of meta sock puppetry, Lez Get Real and A Gay Girl in Damascus had both been flirting with each other since February, unbeknownst to either of them that they were both middle-aged men.
There’s still a part of me that is skeptical when it comes to the guy supposedly behind A Gay Girl in Damascus, as a sock puppet destabilizing the Syrian regime across highly influential social networks is in quite a few people’s interests. But, to be honest, I don’t think that’s the real issue here. After all, you can peel back countless onion layers, revealing all kinds of “inauthenticity”. What fascinates me most is the momentum both voices engendered. The impulse, the rupture that came from each of these middle-aged men posing as someone else. At what point does authenticity cease to matter? At what point had it ever existed? Because, if thousands of people believe in a sock puppet, be it a lesbian trapped in a man’s body, Allah, Yahweh, God or the Spaghetti Monster… does it make it any less real in terms of tangible effects? Put it this way, the mere belief in something affects everything around you. It colors your perspective, causes ripples, and changes things all around us.