by Latoya Peterson
When the news broke that the Gay Girl in Damascus blog was a hoax, I wanted to read a bit more about exactly what happened. The Washington Post notes:
And Sunday, the truth spilled out: The gay girl in Damascus confessed to being a 40-year-old American man from Georgia.
The persona Tom MacMaster built and cultivated for years — a lesbian who was half Syrian and half American — was a tantalizing Internet-era fiction, one that he used to bring attention to the human rights record of a country where media restrictions make traditional reporting almost impossible.
On Sunday, MacMaster apologized on the blog. “While the narrative voice may have been fictional, the facts on thıs blog are true and not mısleading as to the situation on the ground,” he wrote. “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.”
MacMaster, a Middle East peace activist who is working on his master’s degree at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, wrote that he fictionalized the account of a gay woman in Syria to illuminate the situation for a Western audience.
Essentially, this MacMaster fellow is Peggy Seltzer for the Arab Spring. (And, insert plot twist – LezGetReal, the blog that encouraged “Amina” to tell “her” story was ALSO run by a white man claiming to be a deaf, lesbian, mother of two.)
But the why of this intrigues me. While news organizations are in a tizzy about what this means for using blogs as sources, what I want to know is how the media environment got so skewed that fictionalized accounts by white writers get more media attention than actual accounts by people of color? Continue reading