The Syrian Lesbian Blogger Story

Most people will be familiar with the details by now.  A forty year old straight American male based in Edinburgh wrote a blog which purported to be written by a Syrian lesbian woman. And it took a lot of people in.

It is an interesting story on a number of levels. There has been a claim that he wrote it as a work of fiction and that people shouldn’t be cross with him as, we read novels, don’t we?

I can kind of buy into that argument a little, but not a lot. I am impressed with the way he wrote and the way that he managed to take most people in. Clearly he has talent. Straight men pretending to be lesbian are fairly unusual though and I’m still not entirely sure what I make of that part of the story. Apparently he carried on an internet romance with an American woman who for some months believed that she was in a relationship with a Syrian woman. That does seem to go beyond mere fiction to me.

I do know that I’d never posted a link to the blog itself myself because something didn’t ring true about it. I’m not saying that I always knew it was a fake. However, it always did seem just a little unlikely and I wasn’t confident enough about it to link to it. Not so the Guardian, which took up the blogger’s cause in a big way and even published an interview with “her” which it turns out was conducted entirely by email. Clearly there is a lesson to be learned there for someone.

No-one ever claimed to have met this blogger yet so many people believed the story to be authentic, perhaps because they simply wanted it to be true. Certainly the Arab Spring has been fuelled by social media but then so are most things that people do these days. It is becoming ubiquitous and people still have not learned the appropriate cautions.

Rather a while ago, the Scottish Episopal Church published some good guidelines for children in dealing with the online world. Part of those guidelines dealt with the fact, if I remember rightly, that not everyone online is who they purport to be. Of course, not everyone offline is who they purport to be either, but the internet, as ever, amplifies everything and makes it bigger, louder and in more people’s faces than old-fashioned offline deception.

I didn’t entirely buy into the Syrian lesbian story. I couldn’t quite believe it enough. It seemed at the time rather unlikely and in retrospect, extremely unlikely.

But then, for some people reading this blog in some parts of the world, the idea of an out, gay senior priest writing a blog about daily life in a Cathedral must seem just as unlikely.

And I’m very real.


Japan – the smaller pictures

I’m finding it difficult to hold in my head all the details coming through about Japan.

Sometimes its easier to grasp the smaller pictures than to get a grip of the bigger one.

A long time ago I was at college with someone who has ended up in Japan – Vicky. She married a Japanese soldier and lives in the north of Japan where iceberg and whales are more the stuff of daily life most of the time than earthquakes and tsunamis. She occasionally posts comments on this blog too.

I’ve been following her blog to get some kind of handle on what its like over there right now. If you are interested, you can find what she has to say here: