Dan Littauer tried to send me a message through a mutual friend suggesting, “Sami should calm down, and be rational”, adding that he might consider working with me after a period of time, which I think he wants it to be long enough for him to be sure that “I am a good boy”; one whom he can work with. I think that he never thought that I might ask the WIIFM question – what’s in it for me?
Even though I haven’t come to the point in my story where I want to write about “LGBT activism”, I think it’s important to state a few facts about Gay Middle East, GME. I came across GME a long time ago while it was still a poor travel guide website with some information about homosexuality in the MENA countries, like the age of consent, laws… etc. I sent them an email suggesting that the website should be turned into a news website because it has a great domain name, but they never responded. When Dan Littauer contacted me the first time, I had already forgotten that GME did even exist. However, Dan’s thoughts about the site were similar to mine. We chatted, talked and, in result, we worked together for about two years.
Those who truly believe in the supremacy of their race are easier to be tricked by a superior mind.
I have always insisted that we, Dan and I, have written correspondences regarding our work, and I managed to have that, most of the time anyway. I have tried to avoid online voice calls as well in order to have saved written chats. On the one hand, Dan always needed to be reminded of the agreement. On the other hand, I was trying to make him understand that I had better things to do with my time, which he never did. However, because of all that, I have all kind of proof that I need to support the facts I am going to mention hereafter.
1- Dan’s Education
Dan mentions on his Facebook profile that he has a PhD in psychoanalysis. (Screenshot above)
In most cases, those who run away from their countries or are in fear for their safety might suffer later from post-traumatic stress, and/or might fall into deep depression. I haven’t studied psychology, yet my basic training in dealing with refugees and runaways allows me to know that; it even allowed me to diagnose my case myself. A psychologist put me on anti-depressants and mood controllers for a while.
My point is that Mr PhD in psychoanalysis must know that simple fact. Furthermore, he must know that causing more fear of the surroundings or people, might cause severe damages to the “subject”, i.e. me in this case.
When Dan found out that I arrived in Istanbul, he started scaring me out of people whom he thought I would ask for help. It worked very well for a while, until I was able to recover. Thankfully, I am a strong man who knows exactly how to get rid of negative thoughts, emotions, and people.
In other words: PhD in psychoanalysis => He knows about posttraumatic stress => He knows exactly how vulnerable I was at that point => He perfectly knows how to execute successful psychological manipulations.
2- First Contact
Dan added me on Facebook near the end of January 2010. His second or third Facebook chat message to me was, “So, I see you met my friend —“. I had already met that mutual friend a month before and tagged a photo of us together on Facebook. Dan obviously saw it and wanted to “investigate” me a little bit. “Meow!”
I contacted that friend later to ask him about Dan and he said, “I don’t really know Dan well to call him a friend… I only met him once for about thirty minutes.”
3- Dan’s Suggestive Approach
Dan’s most frequent quote is “maybe you should write about it”. He spends most of his time digging up news from different news websites, and tries to make a fuss out of nothing sometimes. He used to contact me, being the only devoted “contributor” to GME, talks to me about his “discovery”, and simply says “maybe you should write about it”! In most cases, I was sure that I didn’t want to write about most of the things he finds, because the news were either unreliable, or simply didn’t matter to anyone. His other usual exclusively-used-with-me quote was “could you at least translate it”.
He also used to say, “I know you are not being paid for this, but neither am I”, suggesting that he understands exactly how I feel, missing the fact that I never asked for money or a position regarding LGBT activism ever before. Even before I started to understand that everything I was doing was LGBT activism in some way, I have always believed that the contentment that stems from helping others efficiently is the biggest reward anyone can ask for. Adding the fact that Dan is “Mr. PhD in psychoanalysis” who knew exactly my real motive behind collaborating with him and GME, led me to believe that Dan’s psychological manipulation started even before I was able to notice it, although it wasn’t successful at the time.
4- Dan’s Exaggerated Statements
At some points, Dan met people I know. He always tried to portrait himself as a devoted LGBT activist helping gay men who come from this “part of the world”. “I’m helping him”, is something that Dan used to say to me, although I never believed it after December 2010. The last time was about a gay refugee now in Turkey who told me that Dan is not helping at all, “he’s just offering advice”, which is typical of Dan, since he over-values everything that he says!
I was fired last April for refusing to write articles supporting the Syrian regime, and then I managed to get myself an exhausting 12-hour a day job. Dan suddenly called me saying “I have the opportunity of a lifetime for you”, and, naturally, he became very manipulative and persistent later. His idea was to start a blog!
Let me help you getting what I understood back then, the opportunity of a lifetime for me is to start blogging, allowing Dan to claim that he is the only means of contact with me, which will help him asserting the his claim of being the best connected LGBT journalist in the Middle East…
Moreover, Dan used to say that he had been helping me, and used to use the same “expression” with me while we chatted. Nonetheless, he, as he always does, went unresponsive when I asked him “how exactly did you help me?”
5- The Mysterious Mr. Littauer
I have my own approach to “investigative journalism”; I am patient and know that the needed information will come at the right time.
Dan did hide or tried to hide certain facts about him. However, I was able to collect all I needed to know about him through our chats. He wasn’t an interesting subject any point, and still isn’t. I never asked him any kind of question about his life or past. I even recall not knowing he had a boyfriend until after they broke up. I have to admit that I have a certain need to be “mysterious” myself as I was never sure if I want to “come out” as an LGBT activist; being gay is one thing, but being a gay activist is completely different. I have always known that LGBT activism will be used against me, and I was right, because it is the main reason that I was threatened in Syria before I left.
6- The GME “Experience”
At the start of my collaboration with GME, I noticed their interest in focusing on the “bad news” in the region. LGBT people are having problems all over the world; homophobia had always won before, and will continue to win nearly everywhere. However, to GME, the bad news had to come always from this part of the world, which made me try a different approach with them after April 2010.
What I discovered later is that Dan was trying to build a reputation mainly for himself. “I don’t want to look bad to other journalists”, is yet another quote that nobody wants to hear, however, I always did. Even to Dan, GME is not a priority, so, why should it be mine.
Dan has been trying to build a reputation for himself being the most connected LGBT journalist in the Middle East. I did not, at any point, like the idea of being used to build a network of connections – what’s in it for me? Dan was not offering to help me establish any kind of connection with important people, not that he is a friend of any of those, but still, I wasn’t offered anything. A good journalist must always try not to reveal his sources to the editor, especially when that editor’s main goal is building a network of connections no matter what it costs.
GME never asked about what they could do to help me, which is actually understandable and predictable; no matter how connected Dan and GME are, they will not offer to help me. Dan wanted some control over me, a fact which I had known for a long time. Dan only contacted me when he needed help with writing or translating something.
7- Dan’s Scheme
“Yemen is not important”. That’s what Dan told me when the revolution in Yemen started. His focus was directed to North African countries. However, to me, people are important no matter where they come from. It was clear then that the west wanted to be involved in Libya because of the oil. “Yemen is not important” is a way for me to rephrase that “people are not important”. Yemenis, Syrians, Libyans, etc. do not matter to the world; power and money are more important. Dan realized that he should be trying to use the troubled people in these countries to assert his claim of being well connected in the Middle East.
Suddenly Dan became interested in the Kurdish situation in Turkey, only after our mutual friend/messenger arrived to Turkey. Additionally, he suddenly had an interest in Tunisia after the Islamists won the elections. When I confronted him with an “Islamophobia” accusation, he just disappeared for a few weeks, and came back to say “I’m not an Islamophobe”.
8- Dan’s Lack of Talent, Immediate Responses, and Professionalism
It is now irrefutable to me that Dan lacks the talent to write. His way of dealing with issues that might occur is convening people and asking someone to write a response. It happened when Arab LGBT activists attacked him and GME last summer, which was during my visit to Turkey in June 2011. With Dan, it is simply a pattern.
Facts about me that Dan had failed to notice:
1- I have never introduced myself as an activist in LGBT issues before I met Dan. I simply used to state the fact of being a journalist and gay. Being both is not a reason to be LGBT activist; yet, I discovered that everything that I have been doing is LGBT activism to some extent.
2- Because of the situation in Syria, I have had always some fears of dealing with western journalists. It was risky to be connected to western journalists. I also had some bad experiences with some who weren’t exactly ethical.
3- With GME, I mostly tried to fall behind deadlines to look to Dan as an irresponsible, unreliable journalist. I had a personal belief that the bad news must be on GME after it spreads all over the media, because since April 2010, I have always had certain uneasiness about allowing GME to have a “scoop”. However, that never seemed to stop Dan from contacting me whenever he needed something. I have always had certain uneasiness about being used by Dan for his own personal gain as well.
1- While I was in Syria, it was important to Dan that “I build a name for myself” as he expressed it, so he credited me in everything that I had sent him before I left Syria. Obviously, it was important for him to support his “well connected” claim.
2- That changed after I arrived in Istanbul. He managed to reuse the material I sent him in an article and made it seem to be an interview with me. He changed it slightly later, but it was not enough to change my decision about not dealing with him afterwards.
3- When I was planning my “blogging comeback”, he wanted to have control over my stories. We had a huge argument that finally set me free of any ethical commitment towards the unethical Littauer. He simply used my interview with the Libyan he’s calling “Khaled” and attributed it to himself. The interview was conducted in Arabic. I wrote it in Arabic and English and sent it to him on 2 October 2011. However, my main concern is not Dan’s plagiarism, as I did the interview hoping for something in return, which I didn’t get. My concern is that reading the 2-part interview, I don’t see any addition that can be logically traced to “Khaled”, which might arise the suspicions that Dan might be inventing the remainder of the interview. He’s in Scotland now! Does it have anything to do with that?
As mentioned above, because of his education, Dan can plan and execute psychological manipulation, which would make him a “manipulator”.
Additionally, Dan lies or hides certain facts about himself or about his past that might be relevant to others.
He always treats others with patronizing and condescending manner. Yet, he seems to be always in need for advocates to defend him.
What I am sure about is that manipulators can be diagnosed with several psychological disorders. I cannot give a diagnosis to Dan’s case since I am not a psychologist.
I think that this answers my WIIFM question: simply nothing! I am better off away from someone whose main interest is controlling and manipulating others.
When I started writing this response, I didn’t think it’s really worth my time, but I thought of others who might look up information about Dan Littauer, and I think they should read this.
Finally, my response to Dan must be phrased in my style… Dan! Caring LGBT activist my ass! You are nothing but a manipulator who did more damage to me than help! But, if you think otherwise, “maybe you should write about it”.