Blog extracts: I asked a very personal question … came the reply - completely wrong . I shut everything down

These are extracts from "A Gay Girl in Damascus", the blog in which Tom MacMaster posed as a lesbian who dared to speak out about her sexuality:

February 2011

I live in Damascus, Syria. It's a repressive police state. Most LGBT people are still deep in the closet or staying as invisible as possible. But I have set up a blog announcing my sexuality, with my name and my photo. Am I crazy? Maybe. But I'm also aware of the winds of freedom and change blowing from one end of the Arab world to the other. And I want that freedom wind to bring with it our liberation, not just as Arabs and as Syrians, but also as women and as lesbians.

25 March, 2011

The Revolution Spreads?

Today, there were calls for national protests over what had happened in Dera … and questions over the promises made last night. So, before leaving for Friday prayers, I did what I've done before: took out a pen and wrote on my left forearm legibly in Arabic and English my name, my Syrian identity number and my US passport number, my address and phone number as well as three contact numbers and the message "I am an American citizen" in Arabic and English. Just in case.

16 May, 2011

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I am not going to run a newswire but I can share some possibly encouraging news. Right now, as we enter the third month of the Uprising, there are demonstrations under way in Homs; yesterday saw Aleppo coming alive …

There are calls for a national strike and more and more businesses have closed their doors; if nothing else, we will shut down this country and make it ungovernable for them, make it so that the gang around the regime will no longer be able to prosper.

18 May, 2011

Honey Trap?

I wondered when it would happen. I suspected it would be sooner rather than later. I received an email from my beloved's account. "Great news! I decided to surprise you and I'm in Damascus now! Come to my room in the Cham Palace! I cannot wait to see you and hold you!" There was even a room number…

Odd … I thought. Is it possible? Could it be? I considered going … because what if it were true? It didn't seem likely or logical but … well, I have found myself hopelessly longing for my lover's touch…and, to be honest, the idea that all I needed to do was go into a hotel and all my sexual tensions and fears would melt away is tempting …

So, I wrote back. "What about your work? What about… ?" I asked a very personal question … no-one else would know… Came the reply swiftly. Completely wrong. I shut everything down. Scared.

5 June, 2011

Well, we had a scare here but it looks like we're back; the internet was down for virtually the whole country for a day and came back on yesterday. Before posting again, I needed to be sure of safety (as well as giving highest priority to those who had greater need than me of internet use!) and here I am…

6 June 2011

"Dear friends of Amina, I am Amina Abdallah Araf al-Omari's cousin and have the following information to share. Earlier today, at 6pm Damascus time, Amina was walking in the area of the Abbasid bus station, near Fares al-Khouri Street. She had gone to meet a person involved with the local co-ordinating committee and was accompanied by a friend. Amina told the friend she would go ahead and they were separated. However, while her companion was still close by, Amina was seized by three men in their early 20s."

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