A reader writes:
Just some thoughts on this story. Men posing as lesbians in online lesbian communities has been a problem since the inception of the Internet. I learned how to spot a dude in a "women4women" AOL chat room as a teen. Usually they'd give themselves away in the first or second message sent. A rare few would create elaborate back stories, all for the chance of having cybersex with a lesbian or maybe getting a sexually explicit photo. It was so pervasive, some chat rooms on IRC would set up gender checks in the form of questions men would be unlikely to know. (I admittedly failed a check myself because I don't know what sizes pantyhose come in. Call me butch.)
Maybe I'm just a cynical, but I think this Tom fellow was, at least in part, getting off on pretending to be a lesbian.
It feels a little violating and a lot like exploitation. Worst of all, he stole a Syrian lesbian's voice and put LGBT people in the region in danger. My complaining about men pretending to be lesbians online is trivial in comparison.
Whenever a gay person does something risky in the name of activism, gay people may disagree or fret over a backlash, but at least there is a shared risk with the one putting their ass on the line. Tom MacMaster shared no such risk, which allowed him to be as reckless with what he blogged as he wanted. He didn't have to worry about self-preservation in a country that's hostile towards LGBT people. And really, neither do I. As an American lesbian, I've occasionally found myself in the wrong place at the wrong time. But even I can't truly appreciate what a Syrian lesbian must experience on a daily basis, much less MacMaster.
I don't know if I'm any closer to understanding, or if "A Gay Girl in Damascus" just fed into some fantasy that a lesbian could be that out and confrontational in such a circumstance.