June 28, 2011

(Not) Queer Like Me

My mother used to love that book, Black Like Me. Griffin was his name.

Personally? I never could stand it. Today, I'm reminded of exactly why.

As we discussed a couple days ago, a bunch of people have resigned from GLAAD's board after the organization was caught shilling for AT&T. Or so it's perceived.

The community bona-fides of a remaining board member, known for his work with conservative and antigay organizations, are also in heavy dispute.

And just as marriage equality passed in New York, another Prop 8-style anti-gay marriage measure is up for a vote in Minnesota, in November.

Speaking of Minnesota, I expect any minute now for poor Michele Bachmann's star to get eclipsed by the Former Governor of You Know What Overgrown State. (Again.) The Palin Traveling Circus of Crazy pulls into Iowa today, for the premiere of The Undefeated. It's widely speculated the Palin camp will use the big-screen infomercial to launch a 2012 campaign, but Sarah is the master at that old parental "we'll see" game. Nobody tops her at it.

And just when the snewse was coming around to comparing Rep. Bachmann to Saint Ronnie, and everything. Tsk, tsk.


Right in time for an OC screed on pinkwashing-for-anti-Zionism comes this Lede story from the NY Times: Israeli Video Blog Exposed as a Hoax

A YouTube video featuring a man who presented himself as an American gay rights activist disillusioned with the latest Gaza flotilla campaign has been exposed as a hoax.

The man in the video, who introduced himself to viewers as Marc and claimed that the organizers of the latest flotilla of ships bound for Gaza had rejected his offer to mobilize a network of gay activists in support of their cause, was identified as Omer Gershon, a Tel Aviv actor involved in marketing, by the Electronic Intifada, a pro-Palestinian Web site.

Watch the clumsy, textbook-case pinkwash attempt:

The story about the hoaxed video kicked around on Max Blumenthal and some pro-Palestinian blogs, but now that the NY Times has picked it up, expect those hit meters to peak.

Way to get your message against crawling in bed with cranks buried, fellas. Use a prominent Israeli public figure who was easily recognized, right off; then go screw up the tweets. Nice job.

This tale about a tall tale is itself on the heels of another online gay hoax that went viral a couple weeks ago, with two prominent homobloggers being outed (reverse-outed?) as heterosexual men.

The male American PhD student who confessed to being an internet hoaxer masquerading as a lesbian blogger in Damascus has spoken publicly about the reasons behind his deception, saying he was motivated, in part, by his own "vanity".

Gay activists in Syria and further afield have reacted furiously to the revelation that the blog, A Gay Girl in Damascus, was written not by a 35-year-old woman kidnapped by security forces last week, but by Tom MacMaster, a married, 40-year-old American studying at Edinburgh University.

Speaking via Skype video to the Guardian, MacMaster, who is on holiday in Istanbul with his wife, expressed some contrition for the blog, which he began in February after constructing an elaborate web identity for Amina Abdallah Aral al Omari, a fictional lesbian Syrian, over more than four years.

He said: "I regret that a lot of people feel that I led them on. I regret that ... a number of people are seeing my hoax as distracting from real news, real stories about Syria and real concerns of real, actual, on-the-ground bloggers, where people will doubt their veracity."

Informed that Syria's official news agency, Sana, has leapt on the controversy, claiming the fictional blog had perpetuated "continuous fabrications and lies against Syria in term of kidnapping bloggers and activists", MacMaster said: "Yep. I regret that."

MacMaster is evidently a graduate of the Anthony Weiner School of Internet Recreation, Remedial Division. Interestingly, Ali Abunimah's Electronic Intifada is central to both stories.

MacMaster was recently caught socking -- Lou Sarah style -- on Mondoweiss. The Guardian, again:

Tom MacMaster, the US graduate student behind the Gay Girl in Damascus blog hoax, has been accused of creating another fake Arab female online identity to defend his own reputation online.

A comment on the website Mondoweiss under the name "Miriam Umm Ibni", mounting a spirited defence of MacMaster's conduct in posing as "Amina", a lesbian Syrian woman, was traced by fellow users to the same IP address in Edinburgh that he used for the Amina hoax.

The Guardian has seen screengrabs of the IP data, emailed by one of the site's hosts Adam Horowitz, that show the post originated from the address

Journalists, bloggers and web users unmasked MacMaster earlier this month as the unlikely hoaxer behind the Amina blog, in part after its posts were traced to the address.

In an email, later posted on the site, MacMaster acknowledged that "Miriam Umm Ibni" was a fake identity, but denied being behind it, saying a "friend of mine who would really like to remain nameless" had posted the comment in his defence. It came from the same IP address because she had been staying with his wife and him, he wrote.

"Like many of my friends, many of whom are committed pro-Palestinian, anti-war and anti-colonialist activists, she was outraged by some of the slanders made against me online. And, like many of my friends, she's been urged by me to defend me. She did so. She's that kind of person."

MacMaster said he had received death threats after being exposed as the Amina blogger, who shot to international attention after he wrote a post, posing as the blogger's cousin, saying "she" had been kidnapped by Syrian security forces.

In the course of uncovering the MacMaster hoax, whose "Gay Girl in Damascus" episode was taken up by Lez Get Real, it was also discovered that one of Lez Get Real's editors, well...former editors... is named Bill Graber.

Though one hoax in turn revealed another, that is their only connection. I guess.

EI has also uncovered some shadowy "ventriloquists" [groannnn] behind the Gay Middle East dating and tourism blog. Another, related spin/propaganda/confidence flap has thus ensued. Maybe EI was upset that CNN went to GME for comment on the "Gay Girl in Damascus"/Tom MacM incident, instead of the group that broke the story yet isn't centered on gay issues in Syria, or anywhere else.

Sigh. Just a guess; who knows.


John Griffin's book and movie about donning dark makeup to pass (reverse-pass?) as Black, to see what it's like, came out a generation ago. Sockpuppeting and -washing aren't new. Neither is blackface, brownface, yellowface, arabface, nor drag. Nah, don't write in to tell me we good 90s-era queers aren't supposed to be linking potentially revolutionary performative acts like drag with blackface, or pinkwashing, or shilling, sockpuppeting or other forms of psychological manipulation.

Call me a terrible Butlerian subject. I won't care.

But it looks like oppression and masquerades as perceived otherness has gotten quite stylish these days. I must have missed something in the past couple years: when did it become fashionable for confidence tricksters, serial liars, and ripoff artists to latch onto LGBTQ politics?

You did not read about "Gay Girl in Damascus" on OCIHACOSP -- neither about "her" alleged "capture" by Syrian state forces, nor about the outing of hetero-frauds Tom MacMaster or Bill Graber -- not because my b.s. meter is so finely atune (which it is).

I've simply grown weary of bandwagonism, either by us gays or about us gays. Being the constant target market of spin, propaganda, and other emotional appeals is one thing. Happens to everyone. Being used as a mere symbol in someone else's journey towards racial redemption or social epiphany against one's will and protest, well, that comes with the territory of being an outspoken person. It's old-hat.

The only new-like thing about it is this newfound acceptance/tolerance of same-sex, complete with marketing tools. This nasty spate of very public hoaxes and symbolic/representational games remind me of why I don't trust it, yet.

Someone write in and assure me my suspicion of this sudden cultural turn is just me being a cynical, get-off-my-lawn catlady type. Because honestly, people...really. Somebody in and around Homotopia is not ready for prime time.