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Amina Arraf and Paula Brooks: we LGBT bloggers need to be real or stop blogging

June 14, 2011

The cases of two fake lesbian bloggers that were recently “ousted” by mainstream media, have done a tremendous damage to all bloggers, but especially to those of us LGBT bloggers who are trying to keep a level of credibility and trustiness in front of our readers.

With the cases of the Amina Arraf the “Syrian-American lesbian blogger” who was truly a straight married U.S. scholar living in Scotland, and of Paula Brooks the fake editor of the lesbian news website Lez Get Real, who was also a straight man, readers are left with a lesson hard to forget.

Why did they do this? I can’t say. Maybe they are infatuated with Lesbians, something for psychoanalysts to research.

But their actions will cause a negative impact on the work we true LGBT bloggers do, they made us look like a joke, a big fat lie, and it really, really, offended the people of Syria, specially those brave LGBT activists that live in that extremely homophobic society.

In a time when hundreds of thousands of people write blogs in the U.S. and millions around the world, a lot of the information posted online tends to be fictional, but when bloggers get the trust of readers and then get exposed as liars, those people won’t read blogs any longer, or won’t trust them anyways.

From now on, it will be harder for a lot of people to take any LGBT blogs seriously as a source of reliable information, unless they know your true identity.

When it comes to informative blogging or citizen journalism, is hard to get people’s attention, but even harder to keep their readership. You have to show them that you are really working hard to get the facts well checked before posting them. This has been my personal experience.

Ultimately, the best way to get a readers attention is getting personal, and this is what “Amina” and “Paula” did. Now that we know those characters were false, I wonder what can we do to get people to believe who we bloggers really are.

This is me. Photo by ergeekgoddess

Getting personal

In the past five to four years I’ve been writing mostly two blogs: Carlos in DC and Peruanista. My most successful blog is Peruanista, written mostly in Spanish and sometimes in English. The secret of that success has been not only my personal effort to include only proven information that I researched with enough time, but also because I had a very personal approach with very personal political ideas that got more recognition as I let people know who I am in real life.

This has not been easy, “coming out” to my readers about my life has been a slow process where I got comfortable with the idea of telling first that I’m gay, totally independent and also undocumented. I knew I had to do it at some point. In that way, people stopped the rumors, the questioning and the wondering. They knew that what I wrote made sense but now they know who is writing those controversial political ideas and mostly proven facts.

The result has been very rewarding, and I have received the support of people who identity also by name and tell me their stories in confidence.

This has been the case with Carlos in DC but in a smaller scale, because I have been keeping a more neutral and perhaps mysterious identity of my life in DC, except with some specific posts where I let out my very personal feelings.

Based on what I learned from my blog Peruanista, I can tell you that for me is much more interesting blogging when I write from a personal perspective; I get to connect with my readers. It’s real. This is also a great responsibility, because I don’t want to make anyone think that I’m really someone else.

This is something we bloggers, especially LGBT bloggers need to keep in mind: our readers need to know who we are. The times of anonymous blogging are gone. Unless you are writing a fictional blog, or a collective blog. When it comes to personal blogs, you know that sooner or later you will have to reveal who you are in real life, especially after these two revelations.

No, we bloggers don’t need to be perfect people nor pretend to be role models, but being honest about what we write and who we are will take us a long way. I’m on the process of doing that, and I we can only hope to count with our readers’ trust.

The damage done by Tom MacMaster (Amina Arraf) and Bill Graber (Paula Brooks) to all LGBT bloggers can be covered and repaired with time and persistence, it’s a big challenge. Those two men can apologize all they want, but what they have done is just plain wrong, selfish and stupid.

There will be more questions raising from this, for instance, how is possible that straight men portray homosexual women so well, for about 6 years, and we all believed them?

Here, my name is Carlos A. Quiroz and I am a gay blogger living in Washington, DC. Here is about me.

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