Wednesday, 15 June 2011

The Blog Formerly Known as A Gay Girl on the Nile on the Blog Formerly Known as A Gay Girl in Damascus*

I am gay and I exist.  I am hidden from almost my entire world. Tweeting, and occasionally blogging, provides me with a looking glass to not only look out into the world, but to also tell my world – or whomever is paying attention – that I am here, I live, I feel, I am alive, and I am hidden right under your nose.

My relation with the virtual-world hinges on it believing me and supporting me, since those close to me would not believe me if I told them, and would not support me if they believed me.

I have a cause, and I need support. We all have many causes. To get the world to support me, the world needs to believe me.

Am I worthy of people’s belief and support? Or am I another hoax?

You have my word that I am real. Unless I am really a middle aged madman with too much time, then my word is as good as dictator’s promise for reforms.

Well over 2000 people were following the Gay Girl in Damascus blog. Well over 2000 people have been touched by inspiring stories of a brave young woman, defying the odds and living openly as a political activist and a lesbian in a homophonic society under a suppressing dictatorship. Most did not doubt for a minute the authenticity of this woman called Amina as they shed a tear when they read about her loving father shaming the fearless and emotionless governmental thugs as they came to arrest his daughter in the middle of the night. Even as her blogs took a slightly surreal twist, with her being on the run, many believed her and offered support  and prayers (and even jobs). Her dramatic Hollywood-style-middle-of-the-day-“go-get-my-father”-arrest/kidnapping did not raise more than a few eyebrows, as those following her in the virtual world scrambled to their keyboards to demand her immediate release.  But questions began being asked, the fabric of the hoax unravelled…. And the rest is Google-able.

Implications? My cause has been undermined by a silly hoax. Like many anonymous and semi-anonymous gay bloggers in the Arab world have been, I have lost some credibility. We will eventually get over this hoax, and recoup our credibility, but many people’s lives have been put at risk (see this, for example). Real people. 

So much time and energy and emotions have invested in trying to free someone who does not exist. Could we not have invested that time garnering more support and press for the tens of thousands political prisoner in the middle east, who are real but are barely alive, almost falling off the edge of existence.

But rest assured – as assured as one should be in the virtual world- our causes are real. We are gay and suppressed, we are Arabs and suppressed, we are a minority, and still suppressed. We – Arabs, gays, minorities - want respect, tolerance, equality, dignity, and that thing called democracy.  These things are real. And as long as you believe these, then that is all that really matters.

But have we heard the end of this Gay Girl in Damascus tale? Or are there more shocking revelations still to come?

My prayers go to the real bloggers who have been jeopordized by this silly joke, and to those who are really arrested and really deserve someone to campaign for their freedom.

*My blog used to be called “Gay Girl on the Nile” (not after GGiD), but I changed it before “her” arrest because it sounded too much like GGiD, and because sapphist is such a cool underused word.

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