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Second lesbian blogger exposed as a man

A second supposedly leading lesbian blogger was exposed as a man masquerading as a gay woman, a day after the Gay Girl in Damascus blog was revealed to be the fictional creation of a married male student from Edinburgh.

Paula Brooks, who claimed to be the executive editor of a US-based lesbian site LezGetReal.com, told the Washington Post that “she”, too, was a man – in this case, a 58-year-old retired construction worker from Ohio called Bill Graber.

Linda LaVictoire, a contributor at LezGetReal.com who writes as Linda Carbonelli, told the Washington Post: “I was completely taken in. I have been completely taken in for three years.”

Before I am outed by various unsavoury, sexist, and worthless denizens of the blogosphere, I have decided to reveal myself that I am, in fact, a Syrian lesbian librarian and feminist freedom fighter. My bra size is 36HH. I started this blog because I was bored – the only other lesbians here in Damascus are visiting Americans who, apart from being intensely dull, disrespect my beloved country and the sufferings of our people, thousands of whom have fled to Turkey, which is shit.

Anyway, this article will tell you a bit more about my home city.

(Taken from The Book of Knowledge, edited by Harold F.B. Wheeler)

Before Athens was built, or Rome; before Moses led the children of Israel out of Egypt, Damascus, “the pearl of the desert” and the present capital of Syria, was a great and famous city. It is believed to be the oldest inhabited city in the world, and we can trace its continuous existence for 4,000 years.

To the Arab it is also the most beautiful city, and on it he bases his idea of paradise; for it lies in a lovely green plain on the edge of the Syrian desert, and its gardens – stretching for miles along the Barada River – yield oranges, lemons, citrons, pomegranates, mulberries, figs, plums, walnuts, pears, apples, and cucumbers, to the limit of his dreams.

It is a sacred city as well, and in the 12th month of every Mohammedan year, thousands gather at Damascus for the pilgrimage to Mecca, which every believer hopes to make once in his lifetime. About this city of romance many historic memories cluster – how it was taken by the Israelites under King David, and by the Assyrians under Tiglath-Pileser III; how Saul was miraculously converted while on his way to persecute the Christians of Damascus; and how it was captured by the Crusaders. Here died Saladin, the great enemy of the Crusaders in the days of Richard the Lionheart, and here he lies buried.

No city is more Oriental in appearance than Damascus. From a distance its great expanse of low-lying Arab houses, overtopped here and there by the graceful minarets of the 248 mosques, seems very picturesque; but when you come nearer, you find that the streets are narrow and crooked and dirty, and the houses seem very dingy and in bad repair.

The “Great Khan” with its Moorish gate and its black and white marble cupola supported on granite pillars, is a magnificent structure. In this and several lesser khans (walled caravan headquarters), trading goes on in a cool twilight to the pleasant sound of fountains. The bazaars are noisier and busier, being simply streets of small shops, where bright silks, rugs, metalwork, and other articles are temptingly displayed. The longest, busiest bazaar of all is the “Straight Street” mentioned in connexion with St. Paul’s conversion. It is roofed for its whole length of a mile and a half.

The looms of Damascus have been famous for many centuries; and in this city, where everything is still done in the most primitive way, where meal is ground in stone mills turned by camels, you may still see the hand-looms worked by a weaver and his draw-boy. On these looms are made the beautiful damasks, woven in silks of brilliant colours, that were known throughout Europe and Asia as early as the time of the Crusades.

Few of the Damascus sword blades, for which the city was also famous in the Middle Ages, have been forged there since 1399, when Tamerlane, the terrible Tartar conqueror, raided the city and carried off all the great armourers to his own capitals. The twisting and welding of two grades of iron or steel gave them their cutting properties and also contributed a beautiful watermark pattern. To make them still more beautiful the Damascenes inlaid them with marvellous designs done in gold and silver. These blades were so keen that floating gossamer could be cut with them; so hard that they would shear an iron spear in two. Damascus today is still famous for its metal inlaid work.

The first mention of Damascus is in Egyptian records of about 4,000 years ago. After 1200 B.C. it became the most powerful of a group of Aramean kingdoms that long defied Assyria. In 732, however, Tiglath-Pileser III crushed its walls. The Bible tells of King David’s conquest of Damascus. In 333 it fell prey to Alexander, and in A.D. 63 to Rome. From 635 down to the time of the World War Damascus was in Arab and Turkish hands, except for a brief interval when it was held by the Crusaders of the 12th century. In quelling a rebellion, the French shelled part of the city in 1925.

Black Dogs Defined

This is the best of me; for the rest, I ate, and drank, and slept, loved and hated, like another: my life was as the vapour and is not; but this I saw and knew; this, if anything of mine, is worth your memory.

(John Ruskin, Sesame and Lilies)

Whatever people say I am, that’s what I’m not.

(Alan Sillitoe, Saturday Night and Sunday Morning)

This is my letter to the world, that never wrote to me.

(Emily Dickinson, This is my letter to the world)

Safe upon the solid rock the ugly houses stand:
Come and see my shining palace built upon the sand!

(Edna St. Vincent Millay, Second Fig)

R.A.D. Stainforth

I was born before The Beatles’ first LP and brought up in the reeking slums of Jericho. I am in love with a woman called Hazel and in love with her daughter, also called Hazel, both of whom I met at Alcoholics Anonymous.

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