“Lez Get Real” Editor Paula Brooks is Actually a 58-Year-Old Man in Ohio

Wow, so! Paula Brooks, the pen name for the editor of “Lez Get Real,” who I and many other gay journalists have undoubtedly spoken with via the internet, is actually a man!:

“Paula Brooks,” editor of Lez Get Real since its founding in 2008, is actually Bill Graber, 58, a retired Ohio military man and construction worker who said he had adopted his wife’s identity online. Graber said she was unaware he had been using her name on his site.

Brooks’s identity came under suspicion after news broke that a woman called Amina Arraf on the blog “A Gay Girl in Damascus” might not really be a Syrian lesbian.

So if you’re wondering how he ended up having the “Gay Girl in Damascus” write for Lez Get Real without ever speaking on the phone, it’s because he couldn’t speak on the phone either!

He told the press: “I didn’t start this with my name because… I thought people wouldn’t take it seriously, me being a straight man.”

NO SHIT!

From day one on Autostraddle we required everyone who wrote here to use their real photo and ideally their real name. We didn’t see how we could encourage girls to come out and be themselves if we weren’t living that way ourselves. We’ve since made two exceptions (for contributors), but this is a very sensitive community, and treating it like a little role-playing game for guys who are just really super passionate about lesbians? (read: lesbian sex) — no. Just no.

This is the best part:

“In the guise of Paula Brooks, Graber corresponded online with Tom MacMaster, thinking he was writing to Amina Arraf. Amina often flirted with Brooks, neither of the men realizing the other was pretending to be a lesbian.”

This is the worst part:

“Graber hoped the truth of his identity would not hurt the site he had built or set back the causes of the gay and lesbian community. He said he plans to give the site to LaVictoire to run.”

Look you wanna be an ally? Be an ally. Be a straight white man ally. We need more of you. Hell, even go ahead and start The Encyclopedia of Lesbian Movie Scenes like another straight guy did — but the ELMS straight guy NEVER LIED ABOUT IT.

You know what? INVEST IN ACTUAL LESBIAN MEDIA. DONATE TO OUR CAUSES! Lots of straight men do donate to us, and we fucking love them. THAT COULD BE YOU!

But this?

This?!!

No thanks.

HEY LYING DUDES! The internet is the ONE FUCKING PLACE where so many gay girls can feel safe being who they are — unlike real life, where they are often silenced.

Something you wouldn’t know ANYTHING ABOUT, you fucking middle-aged white guy.

CHECK YOUR MOTHERFUCKING PRIVILEGE.

How dare you, Tom MacMaster, write about being an out lesbian of color in Syria when you are a privileged MARRIED white man who can travel and study wherever you damn well please and are a citizen of America, a country where you, as a straight cisgender white man, have more privilege then we’ll likely obtain in our lifetimes.

How dare you, Bill Graber, write about our struggles for gay marriage as if they were your own when you’re happily married to a woman. How dare you write about DADT as if it was your own struggle when you’ve had a storied, unprejudiced career in the military. How fucking dare you. You’ve done a disservice to not only your community but to the ACTUAL LESBIANS who are writing for your site every day, too.

Be honest or go the fuck home. That lonely lesbian in the midwest deserves better.

Avatar of Riese

Riese is the 32-year-old CEO, CFO and Editor-in-Chief of Autostraddle.com as well as an award-winning writer, blogger, fictionist, copywriter, video-maker and aspiring cyber-performance artist who grew up in Michigan, lost her mind in New York City, and now lives in The Bay Area. Her work has appeared in nine books including "The Bigger the Better The Tighter The Sweater: 21 Funny Women on Beauty, Body Image & Other Hazards Of Being Female," magazines including Marie Claire and Curve, and all over the web including Nerve, Bitch, Emily Books and Jezebel. She had a very popular personal blog once upon a time, and then she recapped The L Word, and then she had the idea to make this place, and now here we all are!

Riese has written 1734 articles for us.

299 Comments

  1. Thumb up 1

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    What in the effing eff is going on? I literally have emails from Paula from a few months ago. Are we 100% sure this is a hoax and not another joke someone is playing on Paula?

    Thanks for bringing this BS to our attention.

    Vivian
    Co-Founder at The L Stop and a FUCKING WOMAN

  2. Thumb up 3

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    I have boy parts in my pants, sadly. That doesn’t make me any less of a lesbian. I’m transsexual, as are plenty of the readers here, and two of the writers.

    But hese two fucking pieces of shit aren’t transsexual. (This guy and the fake Syrian lesbian.) Fuck them. Every time this crap happens, it makes it harder for people like me to be accepted. I cannot fucking believe this degree of disgusting, selfish, privileged bullshit that these two have dumped all over the LGBT community.

    Allies are great. Self-centered liars like them arent.

  3. Thumb up 0

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    Two hoaxes hoaxed one another? I feel sick…

    But seriously, what the fuck? WHAT.THE.FUCK??? Are we crazy??? They’re clearly sick in the head. Like, seriously. I’m so angry I can’t even write properly. Fuck.

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          Not all! You just have to be careful how much you put on there and don’t go too long without meeting!

          But really, this is why this kind of shit is so awful – LGBT people are only between 3-10% of the population, so even in big cities with big queer communities dating isn’t easy. But for people in areas that are more remote and/or phobic, the Internet is a necessity as a safe space and a way to meet people. The fact that straight dudes think it’s okay to violate that trust just shows they really don’t get it at all.

  4. Thumb up 1

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    This is JUST RIDICULOUS. And really offensive, actually. ALSO, if you’re a straight white man and you are interested in supporting the LGBT community just DO IT AS A STRAIGHT WHITE MAN. We could actually use more of you supporting us! With all that power you have in society and everything. You role-playing what it’s like to be us does not equal actual understanding of what it’s like to be us. THIS IS STUPID.

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      Yeah, allies can do a lot for us. A lot of bigoted straight people won’t listen to our message coming from an LGBT person because we’re “personally invested” or some bullshit, but they’ll listen when it’s coming from a straight ally.

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      Yes. I think support coming from straight people is incredibly meaningful. Tolerant straight people make the straight people around them tolerant. I don’t fucking understand. I realize that ever since reading this post, I can’t stop saying “fuck.”

  5. Thumb up 0

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    Also, the roleplaying comment is apt because that is totally what MacMaster’s comments about how he “knew what Amina would and would not eat.”

    Anyway, I’m just glad I never was a regular reader or commenter at either blog.

  6. Thumb up 0

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    I am confused.

    We all know and accept why women in the past used male pseudonyms, because there was prejudice against their true identities that would make it tricky/impossible for them to get published.

    Why would you do the reverse, purposefully pose as a minority? Could it be some sort of guilt over their own privilege?

    Or the opposite – they thought they were so great that they could just dress themselves up in virtual dungarees and fix up all the gay community’s problems?

    Or it is just easier to get attention as a gay girl than a middle-aged white man?

    I want there to be some kind of reason because I am completely dumbfounded.

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      it’s because they like to imagine themselves as girls who have sex with other girls! the rest of it is just to help them sleep at night and try to lend an air of respectability to the whole charade. I’m sure they fully believe that what they’re doing is good and I’m sure they truly believe in gay rights or whatever. it’s just layers of delusion. he’s proud of himself! both of these guys are. gah it’s so textbook!

      it’s the same guys in chat rooms pretending to be lesbians except these guys are much smarter than that, and so they’ve created a whole different world where they can role-play their sexual fantasy under the guise of a political movement.

      They don’t want to admit the truth which is that they see us as lesser beings/fetishized playthings. They’d never dream of co-opting our identities when its convenient and then shedding them to lead the lives they actually live if they had actual respect for lesbians.

      they’re so incapable of checking their privilege that they generally believe they’re doing a good thing by lending their manpower to our struggle.

      within ONE WEEK OF LAUNCHING HIS FUCKING WEBSITE HE ACQUIRED A SEX COLUMNIST.

      Enough said.

      • Thumb up 1

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        I think one of my colleagues used (perhaps coined) the term “identity voyeurism” for men like these. I think what this means is pretty much summed up by Riese’s comments: it’s a fetishization of the real lives that we all lead, but a fetishization that leaves out the tough horrible stuff we go through. Ultimately what I think makes identity voyeurism bad is that is romanticizes the absolute bullshit we all have had to go through as members of a marginalized group (hello men leering at me and my GF every time we kiss) and thus trivializes it.

        Lesbian/Queer/etc. is not an identity to try on for fun, nor is being of color, being differently-abled, or any other group that lacks privilege in the straight white male world. We are not something for you to get off on pretending to be.

  7. Thumb up 1

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    I thought I had a lot of intellectual stuff to say, but really I just want to say that I am hurt. Once again a straight guy takes advantage of a marginalized group for no apparent reason other than to fulfill a fantasy. And that hurts. Hurts the way it always hurts.

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        He fell for one of those Twitter phishing scams in the midst of us having an argument (about health care policy) and was convinced I had hacked his Twitter account.

        Short version: It was ugly.

        Now it all kinda makes sense…he must have been super paranoid of someone finding out his true identity and flipped out when his Twitter account got phished. I’m just kinda beside myself right now. I mean, after that I couldn’t even mention Paula Brooks or Lez Get Real without him going apeshit on me and threatening to expose me as some master hacker.

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      Grrl,

      I was banned from that site too about 18 months ago by Paula and Brigette. I questioned some misinformation and judgments which were made about the trans community and Brigette sent me a series of screaming, batshit psycho emails. I forwarded several of them to “Paula” and was permanently banned. Ever since I’ve wondered about the identities of some of those people since I’ve never seen them “in open air.”

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        I don’t know anything about Brigette. Someone tweeted me that they had fought as well.

        It’s pretty perverse that we got silenced by this guy on a lesbian site because we disagreed on LGBT issues.

        I saved the emails and tweets he sent to me. Looking over them now, they just wreak of privilege. It’s all like he knows what’s right for the community and I don’t know shit. He even called me a freeloading dyke because I support universal health care.

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          There were four basic people who wrote most of the site. Melanie Nathan (who I know personally, is an attorney, parent, immigration activist and, yes, a lesbian) and totally separated herself from the site when she found out what was going on, Natasia Langenfelder (who writes their entertainment pieces and I’ve seen interview people on YouTube), “Paula” and “Bridgette.” Bridgette has “interviewed” Paula, written glowingly of her credentials and supported her in various fractious arguments with others. Bill Graber says he’s going to turn the site over to Bridgette. *my head hurts* And “Bridgette” has also written a number of highly insulting and offensive pieces about trans women… which sounds about right.

          If it means anything, the trans community has a long, sad history of such Internet hoaxes so this one doesn’t surprise me one little bit. :(

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          Bridgette’s statements about her alleged transsexualism piss me off, but I ignored it because there are some trans people who are screwed up like that. (I used to be kinda screwed up myself so I can’t judge.) But that information you just gave? She sounds like a sockpuppet, and if she is, she’s an utterly revolting sock puppet.

          Know what else? She has an unusual last name, LaVictoire, and now without explanation, there’s a “Linda LaVictoire” who is apparently supposed to be a different person, and no explanation is given for their relation.

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          For what it’s worth, someone who’s pretty reliable just did a Skype with Bridgette and she is an actual real trans woman. So, I take back my accusations. That said, I still don’t like a lot of the things she wrote.

          Maybe LGR never took off like some blogs, but a lot of what Melanie wrote about queer issues with the INS and the LGBT community in Africa wasn’t being written about anywhere else… so that it was connected to a blog with some serious pond scum on the top makes it doubly sad.

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          umm, we try not to ban anyone. i mean that’s a desperate measure. i can’t remember exactly — but we’ve absolutely never banned anyone who was registered on the site or comments on a number of posts or like, is an active part of the community in whatever aspect.

          i’m not sure what banning consists of , but we’ve blocked a few people — usually trolls who show up for the first time and get blocked all within 48 hours…. i think we’ve only blocked like 3-5 IP addresses, and it’s for blatant and generally violent racism/homophobia/sexism, someone writing something truly horrifying that is life-scarring to read or that is making our readers feel unsafe. also this one time on the post about google instant i thought i was going to literally lose my mind if i had to keep fighting with this troll — who’d never been to the site before, was just looking for tech news, and seemed to be a paid promoter of certain online products — for the rest of the day so we blocked him.

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          “Paula” didn’t ban me for over a comment on LGR. It was more over our interaction on Twitter. His political views seem to lean Republican, so we disagreed on politics. And he was paranoid that I was a hacker.

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        i second this.

        and as everyone else has said WHAT IS GOING ON. do people think it’s normal to fake an entire identity and become, on whatever level, successful as that entity? i don’t understand this at all. if, for some reason, you’re a middle-aged straight man who wants to have a lesbian site, HIRE SOME LESBIANS and come out as an ally. why is this so hard for people to comprehend

  8. Thumb up 0

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    OMG. I just felt so sick.

    I SCREAM ALOUD: I AM REAL. I AM REAL.
    There’s a fucking video of me for Miss March; is how fucking real I am.

    Is Jasmyne Cannick real? Should we go down the list of bloggers who are “known” lesbians to qualify us?

    What is this fascination of straight white men purporting to be apart of the queer community that we all get hated for being in SO MUCH?

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        Well fuck, according to your recaps, he could’ve just watched TRLW Season 2 like we’re all doing, shit. Plenty of hairless vadge, masturbation and uncensored dildo fucking. There’s absolutely no need to fabricate an identity and gain access to a vulnerable community like a fucking privileged douche in order to enjoy the voyeuristic access IFC provides to the general public, fiction or enhanced reality. DAYUM. Or here’s an idea: PORN.

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          OMG, love this! Perhaps IFC will claim this as the real motive for her heinousness. A venue to ensnare Lesbian Fraud Straight White Men into wasting their time hence having none to create online personas. TRLW can save us!

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          i know right — FINALLY, A SHOW FOR THOSE GUYS! now they don’t have to lurk on the internet anymore, they can leave the lesbians to do the lurking online and go enjoy the show tailored for their community

  9. Thumb up 1

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    I’m not going to lie, Lez Get Real is nothing short of tabloid fodder. Most of the articles are poorly written and a bit on the sensationalist side. Even with that, I didn’t think in a million years that Paula Brooks was a straight dude.

  10. Thumb up 0

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    wtf guyz!?!?!? what the hell is wrong with these people who have these alter lesbian egos online? weren’t they both married? Is this what monogamy does to people?

    also, who will be the third one? will it be a woman pretending to be a gay man on blogger? will we discover that john waters is really a swordfish with a pencil mustache? is whitney hidding tor in her hair?

    the world is a mystery.

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      I seriously doubt it will be a woman pretending to be a gay man. I’ve spent time in online communities among the sorts of straight and bi women who get off on queer men, and they generally are not into the sorts of deception and trickery that straight men with lesbian fetishes are. Women generally aren’t socialized to feel entitled to everyone they’re attracted to the way men are.

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        I just hate to generalize and say it’s only men. there’s billions of people on earth, there’s bound to be one person. That’s just a thought though, i do think that men do this more often than women would.

        Hmmmm I don’t know if it’s entitlement or not, it feels more like a power trip. a severe power trip, abusing people’s trust and making them feel so vulnerable. I mean if I would have been one of their readers I would have felt so violated. maybe that’s how they get their kicks.

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          i wonder if they are trying to pull of a “this girl is a lesbian, but i’m going to make her fall in love with me” sort of thing online. with masses of people.

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          I didn’t say it was *only* men, or that a woman would NEVER do it. Only that it’s unlikely. It isn’t “generalizing” to point out that men and women are socialized differently, and that’s why certain behaviors and attitudes are more common in men than women (and vice versa).

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          alright, just a misunderstanding.sorry and chill.

          i think in a way these are stages we go through in our lives (both genders). i do think that society has said women should be more of the pursued and men should be pursuing . These days I think in most places it’s not a big deal any more, but in more conservative areas it can look “too dominant.”

          to make a long story short, I think that eventually we realize that we don’t have to be trapped in that box created by the media/society/(insert guilty party). we explore, become confident, owns elves, become independent. they think about how much risk there is involved and how far one is willing to go. It just takes a thought and an action.
          most middle aged and older women and men (mainly co-workers, mine or friend’s) that i’ve talked to (im 21 so sometimes it sounds like a different world that I will never reach)seem to be more confident and comfortable with themselves sexually. it’s when you finally get your head out of the clouds and realize that anyone can make the first move. we go though all these phases and experiences that shape our personalities and attitudes.

          oh yeah, there was a study on this a while back that says the social standards for men and women according to the media (male=dominant,female+submissive) only hold true in childhood and starts to dissipate some time after puberty and through out life. we become alike because at the end of the day everyone wants to be loved the same way.

          hope this made sense and didn’t get to rambly, it’s 1:34 and im not entirely sober. i did my best.

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        “Women generally aren’t socialized to feel entitled to everyone they’re attracted to the way men are.”

        Abso-fucking-lutely right. This makes me want to hurl objects at kittens when I hear hetero guys complain about gay guys being near them and in the same breath objectify every woman in the room.

  11. Thumb up 0

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    What the fuck is wrong with these dudes?

    I feel like these two assholes don’t respect the lgbtqa community, or care enough about us to be allies AS THEMSELVES. Due to the fact that they flirted with each other (kinda funny), I also get the strangest idea that like many ignorant fuckwits, they fetishized lesbians. Except these assholes took it further and played pretend to get reads, attention, and of course, for their own self gratification. Gross and cheap.

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      WHAT IF TEGAN AND SARA ARE REALLY MIDDLE AGED WHITE DUDES.

      WHAT IF IM REALLY A PENGUIN

      I DONT KNOW WHAT TO DO ANYMORE.

      if youre really a tegan and sara record we should be friends. i love inanimate objects. I really do love lamp.

  12. Thumb up 1

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    “That lonely lesbian in the midwest deserves better.”

    Yes! Thank you! It’s hard enough living where I do with no local gay community for support. I have to go online to find any sort of community where I feel safe and welcome, and hearing stories like this really kinda freaks me out.

    Thank you, Autostraddle, for existing.

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    I think it’s worth also asking about Brigette P. LaVictoire, the trans woman he’s supposedly handing the site over to. While I don’t want to say she’s a sock puppet, I also don’t think it’s impossible. I’ve never seen her post outside the confines of that site. For what it’s worth, I’ve followed a lot of sites both in the gay and trans communities and blogs where trans women and cis lesbians interface and I’ve never seen her post (at least under that name). Just saying, people who do sock puppets are rarely satisfied with only one. If someone knows Brigette personally (not just through the Internet) then I’d love to hear it. But it’s not unusual for people who are into assuming identities to use one sockpuppet to comment on the other. :(

    Btw, I just want to say that someone I do know wrote a lot of outstanding pieces for Lez Get Real about issues of immigration policy and injustice in other countries and she’s absolutely who she says she is, is an attorney and civil rights advocate (especially for LGBT rights in Africa) and totally severed all connections with Lez Get Real last week… I’m assuming after she learned about this shameful situation.

  14. Thumb up 1

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    Wow. Just wow. This called to mind Jenny effing Schecter’s speech to her roommate Mark.

    “What I want is for you to write ‘fuck me’ on your chest. Write it! Do it! And then I want you to walk out that door, and I want you to walk down the street, and anybody that wants to fuck you, say, ‘Sure, sure, no problem.’ And when they do, you have to say, “Thank you very, very much,” and make sure that you have a smile on your face, and then, you stupid fucking coward, you’re going to know what it feels like to be a woman!”

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    Well I promise I’m a real lesbian. I really do live in MN too and I am married even though this state doesn’t recognize it. And I write under Clark cause honestly, there are crazy people out there. Remember this is the state with Bradlee Dean, Bachmann and Pawlenty….There is a lot going on in MN. Don’t disregard that just because we were all lied to and obviously convinced by Paula…Bill… whoever the hell he is. Thanks a lot Jerk.

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    gaaaaaaaaaah.

    ok seriously. as someone who has had instances where i didn’t feel safe in real life, i turned to the internet. and then for i while i didn’t feel safe there either. so i stayed on the internet but never contributed to discussions or commented or anything really. and i have finally felt safe and ok again because i’m like, “okay i’m being completely honest and everyone should” FUUUUUUUCK.

    i hate these assholes.

  17. Thumb up 1

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    Whoa. WHAT THE FUCK. I saw all the back and forth on the blogs that broke the Amina thing — they were all saying Paula Brooks seemed suspect too, but I was like BFD. Turns out, yeah, Big Fucking Deal. This is crazy. I am sticking to Autostraddle and never leaving. Hold me.

    OK, the part about the two men flirting, not realizing the other was a man is actually sort of funny and I laughed. But then you take a step back and you wonder what the hell is wrong with these dudes. GET THE FUCK OUT OF OUR COMMUNITY. Reise is right, be an ally, not an imposter.

    Wow, so many thoughts, feelings… so much bewilderment and confusion. A cacophony of emotion. Mostly, these guys are a) creepy b) crazy c) douche bags.

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      I think I feel worse after reading that than I did before. As many times as he said “sorry” and as genuine as I’m sure he thought it sounded, it was just the wrong kind of apology. He really didn’t address the problem with him, as a white, straight, American man falsely taking the identity that he did. And he didn’t take much responsibility either, talking about how he tried to stop writing as her, but “Amina” just kept wanting to have her voice heard. Like he’s blaming it on “Amina.” It just made me angry.

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    This leaves a bad taste in my mouth. I’m so sick of men pretending to be us on the internet when they wouldn’t be able to handle all of the shit we have to deal with in reality.
    JUST GO FUCK YOURSELVES SERIOUSLY!

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    Also….does anyone else here think that these men would have been taken MORE seriously if they stated up front:
    “Hey, we’re straight white men. We think xyz is fucked up. We think that xyz community needs strength. Fuck what you heard, here’s how I CAN DO MY PART. I’m a part of the problem and I’m willing to blog about my viewpoints and figure out a way to be a part of the solution”

    That could’ve been powerful.

    The “I didn’t think I would be taken seriously” excuse is some ol’ bullshit. And is a really sad indicator of the society we live in.

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      I don’t think lesbians would build a community around a website about lesbianism that was run by a straight married man. I’m sure that everyone would assume what we mostly have here that the real point is to talk about lesbian sex. Not that this is an excuse but to be fair… I can’t imagine they would’ve been taken that seriously.

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        Well, that site never really gained a following. Anyhow I don’t think they’d build a community around a website about lesbianism that was run by a straight married man — because a straight cisgender married man can’t run a website about lesbianism. There are very few things that lesbians can do that straight married men can’t do, this is one of them. I think the other is “have sex in a public restroom without arousing suspicion.”

        But he certainly could be an active part of the community, as an ally, as a supporter, like all the straight guys who read this, and donate, and are a part of the conversation, and are educating themselves.

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          Exactly. Straight cis men just shouldn’t be in the business of building queer communities. He still could have been an ally, he still could have had a blog where he talked about queer issues. Not being taken seriously trying to build a queer online community as a straight cis man–tough shit, that’s just the way it works.

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          Right. I don’t mean taken seriously in the building communities aspect but I mean as a blogger where he talked about WHY he supported queer issues, you know?

          like if Riese turned out to be 56 year old white man named Rick Easter, I’d fly off the wall..

          *luckily I know she’s real. ha!

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        I agree, and that’s why sometimes allies, as much as they want to do everything they can for a community, have to be able to understand there’s a line between what they can do and what someone from the community can do. Identity matters!

        For instance, as a white woman, I would never wear a “Mexican Pride” shirt, however I work in a community that is 95% Hispanic and I work on social justice issues here. Clearly I support my friends’ pride in their heritage, but that is something I have to respect from a distance. If I were to make a website, forum, etc about Mexican cultural pride it would almost be like me taking too much control of something that’s not mine.

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          Exactly. I don’t know why this is so hard to understand for some people (like, apparently, Tom MacMaster and Bill Graber.) Part of joining the struggle of a minority group that isn’t your own is admitting your privilege and being willing to accept that you are there to support, not to lead. I have no problem admitting that as a white person, if I am involved in anti-racist activism, there are times when ultimately my opinion is not as relevant or even as valid as those of people of color. My first job is to listen.

          But ultimately, the real problem here is about the deception, which is what is so violating about this identity co-option. If a straight man were to write a novel about a Syrian lesbian, I don’t think there would necessarily be anything wrong with that. I love Anna Karenina even though it was written by a man, some of my favorite fictional lesbians (e.g. Willow Rosenberg, Foxglove and Hazel, Santana Lopez) were written by men, I’m glad Shakespeare wrote the character of Othello, etc. etc. etc. But if he were to honestly do that, it would leave him open to criticism from members of the communities he was depicting in his fictional character (and rightly so.) Apparently Tom MacMaster was not willing to be questioned or vulnerable in that regard.

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    Here’s an apt response to GGID (but it applies here, too) from a dude who gets it:

    http://therumpus.net/2011/06/a-note-to-my-fellow-white-males/

    “So fellow white males, if in the future you’re filled with the desire to take on the persona of a minority and write about experiences as though you are that person, do us all a favor and watch an Avatar/Dances With Wolves double feature and get it out of your system. And then maybe find someone on the ground who actually is a member of that minority and help get their voice heard. Or make your own writing interesting enough that people won’t care that it came from a while male. It’s not like they care most of the time.”

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      …I’m glad there is at least one straight white dude in the universe who understands that he has privilege.

      Also, mostly unrelated: I love the Rumpus! Dear Sugar makes me happy.

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        I don’t think most straight white guys get it, it’s just that they usually don’t go this far. Most of them just ignore these issues entirely. A few engage with them, but usually by mansplaining once, getting either ignored or logic-bombed from here to kingdom come, and then flounce and start their own angry blogs ranting about how “misandrist” feminists and/or lesbians are.

        And these two douchetools do at least understand that lived experience from a marginalized person is more valuable than an oppressed person analyzing from the sidelines. They just don’t understand WHY.

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    This is just so disheartening. I’m not very familiar with that sitebut I’m so sad for those that are. I can’t even imagine the sense of betrayal people must feel.

    I mean, we all know that people lie and that online identities can be fake but I feel like we assume some things are above that.

    When people say they share in your struggle, are “one of you” and tell you that they relate to the same feelings (fear, shame, doubt) you have in the deepest, most sacred places of yourself it means so much. I’m not even sure I can articulate how valuable it is properly.

    This is especially true for someone like me who doesn’t live in a queer friendly state. Even when I’m away at college (where I’m out to a select few) in a major city I have to be careful what I share with people. I’m not out (yet, hopefully soon) to my family because I’m sure my father would put me in the hospital and then my family would disown me. For some of us, people on the internet are the only allies we have and these two assholes are shitting all over it.

    Check your motherfucking privileged is right.

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    You know what makes me extra mad from all of this? That these two white, cis, hetero, American men pretended to be a lesbian and the general reaction from society at large is “oh noes!!” Which is cool, because they still get it is fucked up. HOWEVER, if it were some minority, Idk, someone who is gay, trans*, of a different race/ethnicity, a woman, pretending to be a white cis hetero man, then a lot of people would use that one individual to make a blanket statement about the minority they belong to. I mean, I feel that if a lesbian had pretended to be a hetero cis man writing for Maxim or something, some people would have IMMEDIATELY jumped at the opportunity to say “well, you know all lesbians are like that”.

    Am I making any sense? I am so angry I am having a hard time being eloquent. Seriously, they have so much privilege they can do shit like this. None of us can afford to do something this fucked up and immoral because anything we do somehow reflects on our community at large. Does this thought make any sense? Either way, f*ck this toxic people.

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      I think what you’re saying is that, if you’re a part of a minority, anything you do gets taken as being indicative of how that minority is, not how you as a person are. Like, if my brother does something really stupid, people say, “Sinthe’s brother is stupid.” But if I do something really stupid, people say, “girls are stupid.” Right?

      If you are saying that, then you’re totally right, and it’s so screwed up. Though really, *everyone* should have that privilege. No one should have to be a perfect model for whatever particular social groups they come from.

      What really bugs me about cases like these is how this will reflect on the lesbian blogger community. I know I’m not venturing out from Autostraddle anytime soon. I’m sure others feel the same, and the lesbian blogosphere isn’t really big enough to take this kind of blow without flinching.

      (…does this post make any sense? I’m really tired.)

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    WHAT IS WRONG WITH THESE GUYS?!?!?!?!?

    Look, full disclosure: I’m a big hairy straight dude. I’ve never pretended to be anything but. I started reading After Ellen for the movie reviews, got hooked on the forums (I’m a completely hopeless romantic, so the “Does She Like Me?” threads are SO addictive!), and eventually created an account and started chatting with people because, well, I’m an old-fashioned net-head. I believe that, if you’re getting something out of an online community, then you should contribute something back. It’s polite, dammit.

    I’ll admit, I was nervous at first…. I wondered if people were going to be like “this place isn’t for you, go away”. I am SO glad to say that for every person who didn’t like my presence, I found 20 people who welcomed me with open arms and open minds. When someone told me about this site, I created an account right away, joined “Heterostraddlers”, and dove in. I’ve found some wonderful accpetance on here as well.

    In fact, I’ve made some great online friends through both sites… I’ve struck up extended correspondence with several people, and we’ve learned a lot from each other. It’s scary “coming out” as a straight dude on these sites, sure…. but only maybe 0.0000005% as scary as the coming out you folks have had to do in life.

    But it’s bloody WORTH it! I’ve made some great online friends, and am SO happy that I was 100% honest with them from the get-go. So if there are any dudes on here hiding behind a pseudonym, I say come on out… the water’s fine.

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      Dude, you’re doing this the right way, and I am so grateful that you spoke up. It’s nice to know who our real allies are and that they’re not afraid to be THEMSELVES.

      (p.s. So cute that you’re a hopeless romantic; that bit made me smile.)

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        Thank you SO much Paper0Flowers and novastar!

        I like hanging with gay ladies online for the same reason I like hanging out with LGBTQ people in general… they accept me for who I am. I won’t go into things here, but I’m a sensitive dude who feels much, and expresses those feelings. I’m empathic as well. As you can guess, these traits make me SO out of place in mundane straight culture! Amongst the LGBTQ (and let’s not forget the “P”, for “pansexuals), I can relax, and let myself be myself… even if I am a cisgender white straight guy… but I AM a Goddess-worshipping Wiccan… does THAT count for something? ;-)

        And yes, I AM a complete, total romantic! Today was my 13th wedding anniversary, and I played and sang the Bruno Mars song “Just The Way You Are” for my lady with my acoustic guitar. With MY voice it was more like Steve Perry from Journey singing it, but she loved it as it was…

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    um, eww.

    How far up your ass does your head have to be in order to feel okay with creating an alter ego and using it to write about experiences you’ve never had and can never understand from that specific point of view?

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    i can’t even be mad about this.

    ok i’m about to get old lady on ya’ll so here we go:

    back when i was a kid in the late 80s early 90s the internet was like this scary ghost/boogieman place and all the adults ever said was:

    BEWARE of the internet! No one is who they say they are! Men will kidnap you pretending to be little kids!
    Crooks will try to steal your money by pretending to be a helpless old lady.

    Etc Etc

    So for me i’ve always had that mentality that people online might not ever be who they say they are…

    but with Facebook and Linked-whatever, and all these places where i put up my picture and link to everyone i know, we’ve lost that idea of intentional internet anonymity.

    ya know what i mean?

    so is this all fucked up? sure! i was more messed up about “amina” cuz i worried about her and told my wife about her…

    anyway, i guess what i’m trying to say is that being shocked about this is like being shocked about Weiner showing his Weiner. this is the kind of shit people do. and yes, you can still hide on the internet.

    so now we just have to be extra diligent in what we believe in online and who we connect ourselves with.

    i am real. that is a promise. sometimes i lie about my SAT score.

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      I used the BBSes and Prodigy when I was a kid, and then later AOL when that come out as it was a bit cheaper than Prodigy and had the chat rooms. And while there were men that tried to pose as lesbians, they usually didn’t go to these lengths creating elaborate back stories.

      The rare few who did always fucked up eventually, because chat is real time and you can’t stop to look up girl things to keep up with a chat convo.

      I don’t know how we could be anymore diligent. These two guys when the extra 100 miles to impersonate lesbians.

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    This is fucking insane. Like, seriously, WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH PEOPLE!?!?!?! The only thing that was amusing was that they flirted with each other, but this is just SICK. SICK! I have no words.

    hgioweheiwhghabbadabbagrnnnnnnnnfff……@_@

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    WHAT THE FRICKIN FRACK FORREAL. I feel sick. We can fight our battles with intellegence and authenticity.

    I don’t care how cliched this sounds, but thank you for being you, Autostraddle. You’re always on top of things (lolsh) and I fucking love you for it. I wish I could buy all the stickers. Autostraddle for the future controller of the universe, is all. Shit would get DONE.

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      i’m totally distrusting so at this point i basically require a skype chat, a birth certificate and a bank statement before i have coffee with someone.

      but for real, i google the fuck out of anybody i work with or for, at the very least, but also i don’t think i’d work for someone with no background in anything she was purporting to do. that would raise red flags for me in and of itself

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        My current job involves working face to face with people, and I have never had an internet job, though these comments ^^ make me all the more happy that I am about to start a job where you have to go to a place and physically do something that results in an actual tangible product(electrician). Although it is a construction trade, which is the field this creeper just came from. Wonder what kind of nonsense he pulled @ work!

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    I’m so mad about this, when I saw it come up on twitter I was seeing red. Seriously, it’s not okay to appropriate other people’s identities because you think you can speak to their experience better then they can.

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    Barf. Poor, marginalized straight white dudes who just couldn’t bear not being able to dominate every last arena of discourse.

    My vagina and I deplore this behavior.

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    What the actual fuck? I just don’t even know what to do with this.

    This just makes me want to take a picture of myself holding a sign that says “ACTUAL QUEERMO” and make it my avatar for this site, just so people will know I’m what I claim to be (well okay, my disability isn’t visible, so there’s that. Pictures can only go so far).

    This is just to fucking creepy and upsetting.

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    were they aware that they were dudes? cause now I don’t believe them and maybe they were in on it together, ya know? IDK anymore.

    I wonder how they feel now that they know the other “lesbian” was in fact a man. I wonder if they each had a moment of thinking “It was a man?! that’s just fucked! people are so fucking weird on the internet!” and you know what? they probably still don’t feel like they did anything wrong and the moment completely went over their stupid heads. i wonder if they feel cheated or embarrassed.

    on second thought, they’re probably just laughing about it all.

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    GUYS, this is like the Red Scare, but with less communists and more gross old men. Hopefully, nobody gives a list of lesbian bloggers who are suspected straight, white cisguys to the internet police and then runs for president. Of the internet. Because they’d win, and implement some weird economic policy, and invent a new flavor of jellybeans.

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    october 2008 (a month after launching), a post by Paula Brooks:

    I Hate It When This Happens and It’s All My Dad’s Fault”

    “As a Blogger I hate it when you can’t figure out what to blog about…You see at first I thought I would give a few sex tips.

    But then I quickly scraped that plan when I realized why we have our Lez Get Real Sexperts, Pugs and Busy Beaver writing on this topic and not me…

    See I am pretty good when it comes to talking out my ass, and I used to be something of a deaf Shane in the day, but as I wrote this article, I soon saw as the mother of two-year-old twins I don’t actually have sex life anymore and anything I’d have to say on this topic would just be too out of date and would involve so much talking out of my ass that no one would possibly believe what
    I was saying…

    I started to cry for my dead sex life and I hit the delete button…

    Then after I composed myself, I thought I would try giving a few Paula Brooks tips for finding a perfect lesbian girlfriend.

    But when I started writing this article and began outlining the attributes that make for a perfect lesbian girl friend, I realize that, in my case, love is blind, and the more I saw what a perfect girlfriend is supposed to be… the more I saw my Darling Girl is far from perfect. And the more I wrote, the madder I got at my partner Debbie.

    Finally I ended up texting Debbie to tell her she needed to pick up her own undies off the floor from now on and if she did not buy me something nice today before she came home from work, she could just as well sleep at the office.”

    The last line of this compelling post is “or maybe it was just PMS.”

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    That picture of crazy dude is beyond creepy… yet I can’t stop staring at it.

    Why, crazy white straight dude, why? You are creepy on the inside and out.

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    “Look you wanna be an ally? Be an ally. Be a straight white man ally. We need more of you.”

    Exactly! these guys and their stupid, stupid, stupid idea of pretending to be a lesbian blogger to “help” our community when they can just be themselves and do it!… SMH

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    I told my republican grandmother about the Gay Girl in Damascus being arrested so that she would have some sympathy for lesbians and see that we really do get attacked, arrested, and sometimes killed for our sexuality. I was also trying to convince her not every lesbian is crazy, just my ex girlfriends.

    WTF am I supposed to tell her now? I hope he chokes on his fucking privilege.

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    “Be honest or go the fuck home. That lonely lesbian in the midwest deserves better.”

    This. Ten times. A thousand. Because when you’re the only out Transbian you know, you have nowhere else to go and no one else to believe. It sucks hardcore because you don’t know whether you’re just a mentally ill person who belongs in a psych ward or if your feelings are actually legit.

    I don’t have any more words. UGH.

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    You know when you tell a lie, and it just gets bigger and bigger until it spirals madly out of control…

    “We want to talk to a successful lesbian blogger.”
    “Successful lesbian blogger? THAT’S ME!”
    “Cool, let’s interview you! Let’s meet up!”
    “I can’t. I’m… busy. All day. Always. Can’t come out.”
    “Okay, how about Skype?”
    “Skype breaks my computer.”
    “Okay… phone?”
    “Oh. Um… I’m deaf. I can’t talk on the phone.”
    “You never mentioned being deaf before…”
    “WELL I AM STOP QUESTIONING ME HAVE I MENTIONED TODAY THAT I AM A LESBIAN?”

  39. Pingback: Another Straight Man Outed as Lesbian Blogger | Con Games

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    I worked with “Paula Brooks” for 2 years on my site, Lesbiatopia.com, until we parted ways when “Paula” became controlling, aggressive and extremely angry. It was scaring the writers and other readers. “Paula” actually started Lez Get Real when I cut her off from my site. It’s a very interesting backstory, I blogged about it last night if anyone is interested in reading about “Paula” from the beginning…

    http://www.lesbiatopia.com/2011/06/man-who-claimed-to-be-paula-brooks.html

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      wow wow wow.

      also i have fond memories of 8against8! i can’t believe you were being harassed like that at the time, what bullshit.

      crazy crazy person. how did they get to go on this long.

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    I’m a little confused as to how after doing something so totally and decidedly disingenuous, he would hope to be an ally? Are you fucking kidding me?? Yeah, dude, you’re definitely one to be trusted.

    This is all just creepy and bizarre. I really do wonder about the motive behind this sort of thing. Is it the excitement of being someone else? Is is the satisfaction of pulling one over on someone? Any way you slice it, any way these guys want to rationalize it, it’s a calculated manipulation. UGH.

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    I am a straight white guy who is a GLBTQ ally and friend to more than a few lesbians. I’ve been coming to this site for about a year now because it is both smart and funny. I’ve even donated, but I haven’t posted. When I read about this story, however, I had to sign up so I could add my voice to the people who are appalled by these two guys. As angry and bewildered as I am, however, it cannot ever compare to all the women who are actually living what these guys appropriated for themselves. I just wanted reaffirm that there are guys out there who get it, and who stand with you (as their real selves).

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    First of all, it’s great to know that the Encyclopedia of Lesbian Movie Scenes still exists. I know that this is beside the point, but ELMS was so my go-to site when I was 16, in the closet, and really effing confused about why I wanted to get Scarlett Johansson naked when I was supposed to be “normal” and like penis (not be afraid of it). Kinda makes me nostalgic that after all these years my current go-to site mentions it. Totally takes me back, you know?

    ANYWAY, really? REALLY!?? One guy being found out for masquerading as a lesbian on the internet doesn’t really shock me in the least, but TWO in a WEEK?? What the fuck!!!! At this point I don’t really have words… pqoiqhefdlkn;alkj18932u1892o3iqelkfnskjlq;wkajdm

    In other news, I don’t believe I have ever used so many caps and exclamation points in a comment before. And now I’m too angry to feel any sense of accomplishment.

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    People believe what they want to hear. All he had to say was “..evil…white..patriarchy..” and the readers filled in the rest about their “paula brooks”.

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    Con-artist trapped in the body of man—are we still being conned?

    Bill Graber might still be involved in a hoax. Just because he got busted does not mean he has slowed down. He provided his own photo to WaPo. This speaks volumes. How can we be sure about the identity of the person in the photo? What about his wife? Did he invent her? What about the twin daughters? Who are the children in the photos he was posting on Facebook as the children of Paula Brooks? What about the photo of the woman he posted as his wife on Facebook? Who is that woman? What if Bill is actually one of the crazy people trying to keep LGR going. The site should be shut down, it has zero credibility at this point and frankly I’m not sure it ever had any to begin with. I believe Bill Graber/Paula is trying to make money off a scam.

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      Sabrina, I’m the Editor of Lesbiatopia and I am working closely with the Washington Post and The Bilerico Project, because like you, we believe that Bill Graber is still not who he says he is and his background is very questionable. We believe there is more to this story than meets the eye and would not be surprised that he still still involved in a hoax. I promise once we receive more information, Lesbiatopia will be updated with that info so stay tuned.

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    I actually had an email exchange confronting this, now known to be guy, when he took out one of his contributors via a comment section, which I found to be completely inappropriate. He explained his reasons but it all felt so fishy to me at the time. I know women attack women but it just felt different – now I know why and it gives me the creeps to know I was talking to a man posing as a woman. I don’t understand how he could possibly rationalize this except for some serious mental defect or mental illness. Like the article said. Support us awesome, but be honest about who you are, not pretending to be a woman. It’s disgusting at best, deeply disturbing at worst.

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    Only the Washington Post has permission to publish this very copyrighted image….

    This site specifically does not have that permission

    You can slam me anyway you’d like to slam me…. but you had better not be doing it at the same time you are stealing my property…

    You are to remove this copyrighted image immediately….

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      Hey folks…

      Allow me to share with you how we delt with trolls in the early days of USENET. In the “wild west” of the internet-era, we’d respond to trolls (like Billy here) with recipes. This way, we could avoid engaging the pathetic sack of protoplasm that is a troll (and engagement/argueing is what they WANT), while also saying “yeah, we saw you posted, and we care so little for what you have to say that we’ll not acknowledge a word you say BUT we’ll share this tasty cooking treat with our friends here.” Daily Kos wound up putting out a cook-book as a fundraising tool with troll-response recipes (We called it the “Troll-House Cookbook”).

      So, if Billy boy here is just a pathetic troll masquerading as a lying sack of excrement (ironic, no?), or if it’s the head lying pratt himself, let’s use this opportunity to ignore him while sharing some tasty treats. Here’s one of my favourite chocolate brownie recipes:

      Moosewood Fudge Brownie Recipe
      Heidi notes: I used 71% Valrhona chocolate. White whole wheat flour works great if you would like to substitute. I also added espresso powder, half of a large ripe banana, and about a cup of toasted walnuts (per Mollie’s suggestions at the tail end of the recipe). I topped them with a sprinkling of walnuts before going in the oven as well.

      Let soften: 1/2 lb. butter (don’t melt it)

      Melt: 5 oz. bittersweet chocolate. Let cool.

      Cream the butter with 1 3/4 cups (packed) light brown sugar and 5 eggs. Add 1 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract. Beat in the melted, cooled chocolate and 1 cup flour.

      Spread into a buttered 9×13″ baking pan. Bake 20-30 minutes (hs note: mine took 30) at 350 degrees.

      Optional: chopped nuts, or 1 tablespoon instant coffee, or 1 teaspoon grated fresh orange or lemon rind, or 1/2 teaspoon allspice or cinnamon, or a mashed over-ripe banana, or none of the above.

      Yet another option: instead of uniformly blending in the chocolate, you can marble it. Add chocolate last, after the flour is completely blended in and only partially blend in the chocolate. It looks real nice.

      Oh, and we should have some funny pictures to look at while waiting for the dessert to bake:

      http://www.google.com/search?q=bill+graber+picture&hl=en&client=ubuntu&hs=pap&channel=cs&prmd=ivnso&source=lnms&tbm=isch&ei=FvtETuq9GIvVgAeM0bGvBg&sa=X&oi=mode_link&ct=mode&cd=2&ved=0CAsQ_AUoAQ&biw=1024&bih=656

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