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CHICAGO (CBS) – A founder of a new lesbian women’s news Web site for Chicago wrote recently that she was “very saddened” to discover that the “woman” behind the “Lez Get Real” blog was actually a straight man misrepresenting himself.
Last week, the blog “The L Stop” issued a special report, on Paula Brooks, the proprietor of “Lez Get Real,” which is still updated regularly by “a variety of lesbian bloggers.” The Washington Post revealed last week that “Paula Brooks” was really Bill Graber, a straight man from Ohio.
In organizing a news feed, “The L Stop” had been considering including “Lez Get Real,” “L Stop” co-founder Vivian Gonzalez wrote last week. Gonzalez wrote that she had personally contacted Brooks, and found her to be “kind, excited and very friendly.”
In an e-mail reproduced on “The L Stop,” the purported Brooks also asks Gonzalez if she would be interested in being “a news reporter for Chicago and for the Midwest,” and claimed to have a Chicago connection as a senior fellow with the Oriental Institute and a possible future position “with the Fields (sic) Museum and the University of Chicago soon.”
But after later revelations, Gonzalez wrote that her correspondence with Brooks was “manipulation at its finest,” since Brooks was really a 58-year-old heterosexual man.
The controversy started after revelations that the author of the blog, “A Gay Girl in Damascus” was not a Syrian lesbian woman named Amina Arraf, but actually a married, straight American man named Tom MacMaster, the Washington Post reported. Initially, some had thought Brooks was really behind “Amina Arraf” before MacMaster confessed, the newspaper reported.
But questions then mounted about Brooks, and when the Washington Post tried to contact her, the newspaper reports it eventually got Graber to admit he was the real “Paula Brooks.”
Graber told the newspaper he ran the site with “the best of intentions,” and had decided to write about LGBT issues after seeing the mistreatment endured by a lesbian couple he knew. But in real life, he is a retired military man and construction worker from Ohio, the newspaper reported.
Graber also has an apology posted on Lez Get Real, which reads in part: “I created Paula the Surf Mom as a literary construct for my Queen of Surf Pirates blog… but as we all know now I am not a lesbian. I wanted her to be a lesbian because in my male mind, that is a pretty strong figure; an independent woman who needs no male protectors.”
As for “The L Stop,” “Lez Get Real” has been eliminated from the news feed.
“The L Stop” began this year due to the lack of a central provider of lesbian-related news in Chicago. The site seeks to “serve as a hub for all things related to the lesbian culture.”