Another blogger who claimed to be a lesbian has been exposed as a middle-aged, heterosexual man.
‘Paula Brooks’, the executive editor of LezGetReal.com, is actually 58-year-old Bill Graber, a former Air Force pilot and construction worker from Ohio.
He admitted his real identity to the Washington Post yesterday, saying he began the lesbian website because he was hurt by attacks on his lesbian friends but did not believe he would be taken seriously as a straight male.
‘Paula’ was the first to publish extracts of the Gay Girl in Damascus blog – which was revealed at the weekend to have been written by a 40-year-old married American man studying in Edinburgh.
Tom MacMaster initially said he had not harmed anyone by the hoax but after fury from gay rights campaigners and Syrian human rights activists, he posted a grovelling apology on the blog yesterday.
Other journalists at LezGetReal.com had never actually met Paula and ‘she’ claimed she was deaf and could only communicate through email or through her father.
Graber said he had taken his wife’s identity and said the site was “done with the best of intentions.”
“I didn’t start this with my name because… I thought people wouldn’t take it seriously, me being a straight man,” he said.
When MacMaster was revealed to be the writer behind Gay Girl in Damascus, suspicions grew over the identity of Paula Brooks, with some journalists questioning whether MacMasters could be hiding behind that persona too.
However, Graber said that neither were aware that the other was a man and both had “flirted” with each other over email.
It was “a major sock-puppet hoax crash[ing] into a major sock-puppet hoax”, he said.
Other writers at LezGetReal.com said they were shocked by the deception.
Linda LaVictoire, who writes under her maiden name of Carbonell, told the Post she had been “completely taken in” by the ruse for the last three years.