“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.

Riese is the 38-year-old Co-Founder and CEO of Autostraddle.com as well as an award-winning writer, blogger, fictionist, copywriter, video-maker, low-key Jewish power lesbian and aspiring cyber-performance artist who grew up in Michigan, lost her mind in New York and then headed West. 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 Nylon, Queerty, 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! In 2016, she was nominated for a GLAAD Award for Outstanding Digital Journalism. Follow her on twitter and instagram.

Riese has written 2843 articles for us.

300 Comments

  1. 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).

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

    • 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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….

    • 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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