I'm finding these questions especially intriguing now in light of the developments since my last blog post about Syrian "A Gay Girl in Damascus" blogger Amina Adballah. To fill you in: Amina, called a hero for her courageous blog chronicling her life as an out lesbian under the oppressive regime of Syria, was allegedly abducted by armed gunmen earlier this week.
Amina's story has spread, just as those of us supporting her had hoped, with major news outlets covering her abduction and the following campaign to release her. The result is that, even in her absence, Amina has continued to raise awareness around the world of those who are suffering, their human rights violated as they struggle for the freedom to simply be who they are.
And now, a new layer to the story - apparently, photos of Amina that have been circulating may be photos of someone else entirely. The media has had a difficult time finding anyone who has actually met Amina, and now people are wondering whether the Amina we are rallying for even exists at all.
And what would it mean if she didn't? There are some who say that it doesn't matter, because whatever the truth of her identity, the author of the blog has raised awareness, telling some part of the truth of LGBTQ Syrians who are suffering. They also remind us that focusing on whether or not Amina exists may distract from the possibility that there is somebody, still, being detained against her will.
Others would say that such a revelation would take away from everything "Amina" has done, with the truth that rallied us to action revealed as nothing more than a lie. Part of the argument against Amina's existence is an old blog post explaining that some of what she writes will be autobiographical, while some will be fiction, and she won't always say which is which. Does this mean we've been swallowing lies?
Well, regardless of who it is who wrote those blog posts, I believe I can relate to her. Not only as a queer woman of color, but also as a writer caught somewhere between fact and fiction in storytelling. I know that I've written fiction some have read as truth, and told truths read as fiction. What does it mean when I don't take the time to clarify which is which? Am I telling lies? Or exploring just another way of illuminating the truth?
What do you believe is true?
From yesterday's writing:
shipwrecks on the water's surface
sailing with wind
blown from bones
in an ocean grave