Hoax is most likely over. http://electronicintifada.net/blog/ali-abunimah/new-evidence-about-amina-gay-girl-damascus-hoax has rather compelling evidence that "Amina" is a product of husband-wife team Tom MacMaster and Britta Froelicher of Edinburgh, Scotland - formerly of the Atlanta area of Georgia, USA. IP addresses, property records etc. More fun comes in the discovery that the person in charge of one of the websites involved, http://lezgetreal.com/ - is not who she says she is.
I've spent a fair amount of time following this story as it developed. I was fooled at first and believed her name to be real and her location to be in Damascus, as she said.
1. Consistent failure to speak via skype or phone to her supposed "girlfriend" in Montreal, Sandra Bagaria.
2. Consistently backing out of plans to meet with someone, always at the last minute.
3. Consistent failure to provide any specifics to verify anything she claims, such as life in Chicago, Atlanta or growing up in Virginia.
4. Claiming to use her real name - very likely false.
5. Prior blog claiming to mix fact and fiction without telling the reader which is which.
6. Online minor profile in her name with "Language" listed as Hebrew. Could be someone else, could be a setup, could be something pulled from somewhere else. Probably meaningless.
7. IP address leading to Edingburgh, Scotland - many activists use proxy servers, though.
8. Phone number leads to a random pharmacy instead of to her home as she claimed it would.
9. The supposed "cousin" that also has writing/moderation privileges on the blog is dead silent in aftermath of online furore post-"abduction".
10. "Girlfriend" in Montreal is text-chat online relationship only.
So where's all that leaves us? Hoaxed, scammed? Sure. Could be a man, or a foreign activist or just someone writing for the hell of it. If so it started before the recent revolution started going.
Lots of details of life in Damascus, but a lot of stuff that smells of overdramatized fiction, as well, in hindsight.
Person living in Damascus or who has lived there who is LGBT-active?
Either case, it really doesn't matter. This isn't me trying to defend my gullibility. I got taken in.
The current Syrian regime is odious and killing its own citizens in the streets, no matter their sexual orientation. If the fake blog brought attention to the situation of LGBT communities in the Middle East, then that's a damn good thing and the start of real change in a very backward, medieval, Dark Ages-type part of the world. So good on her, whomever it was that wrote the blog. May well be the same person as her cousin, that's now still deleting comments on the blog.
The point is, change and protection for vulnerable sexual and religious minorities and women needs to happen in the Middle East. And the regime of President Assad needs to fall. This whole blog conspiracy is really not terribly important in light of people getting shot protesting peacefully.
So where is the writer right now? Probably not in Damascus. Probably the same person as the "cousin". Could be with the name Amina Arraf, though:
Or could be that she is detained in Damascus and just didn't want to use her real pictures out of fear, or out of wanting to look like Jelena Jeclic of London, the UK. Which would explain her not wanting to Skype with her new friend in Montreal, since she'd be found out to have deceived her my misrepresenting what she looked like?
Nail in the coffin for her being exactly who she claims to be:
...Which still doesn't take away from her writing achievements and gaining attention for a cause that needs attending, or change the fact that thousands of Syrians are in jail or dead for no damn good reason.
Seems quite possible her name is real, some of her story checks out with a MySpace page from Atlanta in that name, with believable pictures. But many parts of the blog, like kissing/hugging another girl in Damascus airport - seems fabricated and wishful dreaming. Perhaps she's in Damascus and making things up, or living someplace else and making things up.
2: MORE FUN
One of the pictures from the MySpace page is of a celebrity Palestinian female fighter. It looked inconsistent and out of place to me, which is why I didn't use it above. The other two are as yet unknown.
Even more fun: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/09/world/middleeast/09ambassador.html
All kinds of weird crap around the Syrian ambassador to France. Looks like France 24 TV channel got taken for a ride by someone with an axe to grind and a wicked sense of humor. TV channel calls the embassy and get a phone number to call the ambassador. They call that number. Woman purporting to be the ambassador claims in both French and English that she's resigning. The next day the (real?) ambassador goes on live TV with video and officially denies it, claims to be about to sue for defamation bla blah.