Without Fischer: Less Violence

I keep getting asked how I feel about Bryan Fischer leaving Idaho. Quite frankly what is most striking is how i feel when I think of the impact he has had in the time he has been here, relentlessly repeating the cruel words of national anti-gay groups and spending long days in the legislature with people who should know better than to listen to him.

But of course the media has covered him solidly. That love of controversy has earned him front billing whenever he wanted it. There are not a lot of people willing to dedicate their lives to hurting other people and doing so with a megaphone in public life. So he got covered. The media made him louder, more powerful and more virulent than he might have been somewhere else.

You know when young people write to me about hope, hope that someday they will not be hated or pitied for being gay or where they will feel safe and not ridiculed or targeted for violence, I think of Bryan Fischer. If it was his goal to ensure that gay teens in Idaho would find themselves in a hostile world, then he accomplished that.

Idaho has one of the highest teen suicide rates in the nation. Typically in any state about 1/3 of all teen suicides are related to teens struggling with coming out or with conflicts within themselves as to whether or not they are gay. If a parent were inclined to be uncomfortable with their child being gay, sure enough Bryan Fischer would be in the paper over the past decades, talking about how we gay people destroy families and live dangerous lifestyles. Of course he has always hammered away at the idea that being gay is a choice. For a parent and that child, something changes when that is the frame within which you exist. For the parent there is the sense that the child can be forced not to be gay. For the child there is the hostility of those statements, the devaluation of the lives of people who are gay, and the conflict of failure when young people, especially young men find that they can no more make themselves straight than their straight peers can force themselves to find boys attractive and make themselves gay. The idea that gay people can be "fixed" or reprogrammed has long been found false, yet Fischer and people like him know that by insisting that being gay is a choice, they can make it a moral issue, make young people and all of us feel that if we were better people we would not be gay.

I'm sorry, but I think the criticism of Bryan Fischer is all too mild. This man, through his relentless words has incited hatred and violence. He has impacted thousands of lives daily, not for the better, by assisting in forcing through a constitutional amendment not just to ban marriage but to hugely complicate our lives by ensuring that we can in no way be recognized as couples by the state or any government in Idaho. Every year in Idaho we will be turned away from emergency rooms or the bedside a partner who is dying. When we die, our joint possessions can by default be taken away from our partner and given to estranged parents or siblings. Already, our social security benefits can not go to our partners. But here in Idaho now, some couples have had to struggle just to get a family gym membership or health insurance from anti-gay companies like Blue Cross.

The cruelty of all this, the lack of Christian values in working to create an environment where real people suffer, where good people suffer, is what is so hard to take. Young people die at their own hands in this state and I lay some of that blood at Bryan Fisher's feet. When you spend your life perpetuating hate against a group of people, people die, people are beaten and harassed and fired from their jobs and even murdered.

The recent death of Dr. Tiller just shows further how hate leads to violence. Fischer
can claim he does not condone violence, but how many times did he
ensure that those listening would not do harm to those he condemned? I
don't recall a single time.

I wish Bryan Fischer's departure meant an undoing of all the pain and harm he has done to so many. Sadly it doesn't. That is up to the rest of us including that vast majority of Idahoans who know gay people as family, friends, co-workers and classmates. We have to make the changes that end the violence and suicide.

The tide has long been turning against people like Fischer. There were times he was shunned in the legislature, especially in the House under Speaker Bruce Newcomb. I think he found luke warm response to his anti-gay rants and recently focused instead more on promoting absurd fear around gender identity and cross dressing. Nationally, efforts to divide our country over gay people have worn thin but I'm sure Fischer will find others to demean and condemn. I send a quiet apology off into the rain today to the people of Mississippi. I'm sorry you get him now.

13 thoughts on “Without Fischer: Less Violence

  1. Robert McDiarmid - June 2, 2009

    You are a beautiful writer. Fischer is so embarrassing. I hope he hits a wall of tolerance in Mississippi like he did in Idaho. Who will the media turn to for a whack voice? Brandi? (sigh)
    You have been a hero for LGBT people in Idaho for so long – – and I know you’ll continue the fight far after Fischer is gone.

  2. ThomG - June 2, 2009

    Nicole, I can never fully appreciate what you must feel when you hear and see people like Bryan Fischer attack you just for being you, but you write in a powerful way and it gives me a glimpse into the pain that Fischer causes when he preaches his brand of intolerance. Thank you for being strong and standing tall.

  3. Julie Fanselow - June 2, 2009

    Excellent post, Nicole. I especially appreciate this line: “The media made him louder, more powerful and more virulent than he might have been somewhere else.”
    Or than he might have been HERE. The Boise media inevitably played him up to be the head of some huge organization, but I suspect the reality was far different. (How many people on Fischer’s email list were there just to keep tabs on him? How much money did he really take in last year?) Yet the media elevated him to a point where he somehow represented a huge swath of Idaho’s population. It never mattered whether Fischer was outnumbered 10-to-1 in testimony at a legislative hearing; the media always gave him at least equal time with whatever chorus of moderate and progressive voices were on hand.
    I can think of no one who has been a more divisive force in Idaho in my 20 years here. I am sorry for the damage he has done, and I am thankful that he is leaving and that we can start healing.

  4. Megan Barry - June 2, 2009

    Reading this article has re-evoked the many complicated emotions I have towards Bryan Fischer.
    Fischer was my pastor at Community Church of the Valley in Boise for nearly ten years. He is a good man. I say this with surety, even as my heart and mind are revolted by many of the things he has said and done. I can understand the anger that many people have towards him. I think that his stance on homosexuality is unforgivable. Therefore, I do not ask you to forgive it.
    However, there is another side of Fischer, which I feel would be disingenuous to hide: despite his long campaigns against gay rights, Fischer was a compassionate person. He cared deeply about those around him, and I know this, because I witnessed it on a regular basis.
    I recall one sermon when I was probably about 15 or 16 that was heavily patriarchal, verging on outright misogyny. I was outraged. I wrote a brief note condemning his stance. (As an aside, I would like to note that this stance was fully justifiable biblically, as are the rest of his campaigns). As aforementioned, I was only a teenager at the time, and the daughter of one of the church elders. It was not considered acceptable for a woman, let alone one as young as I, to question authority. I took the gamble, though, and dropped the note into the offering box.
    I expected, at best, silence, and, at worst, condemnation. Instead, to my great surprise the following Sunday Bryan not only retracted most of what he had said, but also apologised to those he had offended. I can pretty much guarantee that I was the only one amid that very conservative group who had been offended.
    Over the years I have witnessed with great sadness the attacks leveled against Fischer. A sadness tempered with a certain sense of futility: he has brought this upon himself. I cannot help but wonder, though, if perhaps it is time we changed our tactics. (I am just as guilty as any of caustic accusations and violent imprecations, so I don’t say this to point fingers, other than at myself). What if we, in the face of the homophobic right-wing responded calmly and with compassion, not because we don’t have the RIGHT to be angry (we do), but because anger (on both sides) has devolved into a shouting match.
    I am sad that more people did not know Fischer as a man, rather than as a political force, in much the same way I am sad that people viewed Dr. Tiller as the face of the pro-abortion movement, not as a man who was helping women within legal parameters.
    We are asking our fellow Americans to see us (gays, women, blacks, hispanics, atheists, buddhists, muslims, etc.) as human beings worthy of respect by virtue of our humanity, not our gender-preferences or skin colour. Let us not forget that we must extend this same basic human respect even towards an oppressive majority.

  5. Jill Kuraitis - June 2, 2009

    go to http://www.NewWest.Net/Boise for two editorials about Fischer leaving.

  6. Casey - June 3, 2009

    Great post. I’m afraid he may be headed for a larger audience to spread his hate in. I appreciate the previous comment about showing compassion and kindness–you are right. However, that is not to say that we cannot and should not stand up and say, “That is not true,” when Fischer or his ilk spread lies. We don’t have to respond to hate with hate, but we MUST respond.

  7. Binkyboy - June 3, 2009

    Luckily I’m an atheist, and any compassion I could possibly feel towards Bryan Fischer was gone a long time ago. The man was a lunatic dressed in the vestments of religion, and Megan’s plea was nothing more than a hearkening back to her own religious past.
    Fischer never lost a bit of that misogyny, he only hid it in public.

  8. Marty Herceg - June 3, 2009

    Fischer is right and a great guy! I’ll miss him and am looking forward to another strong Christian to take his place.

  9. Gay Mom - June 12, 2009

    The only face to face I had with Bryan Fischer was one in which he would not respond to a polite interaction with those around him because he apparently thought them to be his lessers, he did not apologize for taking time that belonged to others on the schedule, and he would not look anyone in the eye.
    What he is doing is sin according to his own sacred text, and, although I am not a Christian, I do not hate the man, just the sin.

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  12. Anonymous - October 31, 2009

    I am glad that he is gone. The battle for equality is still not going to be easy, because now he can get his new-found supporters to send money here. We will still beat him though. Him and all of his hate.

  13. Tammy - December 16, 2010

    Those of you who hate Bryan Fischer are so full of hate.
    What an egregious attitude you have! Are your lives so miserable that you must hate others to lift yourselves up? The Bible was written 3500 years ago and has stood the test of time. The Bible is what you hate, it is not a man.
    When God created man and woman he said “It was good”. There is nothing wrong with continuing the witness of the good which God has created. Male and female he created them, because it was not good for man to be alone. He created a suitable mate.
    Why not direct your anger at God? Do not fear man, fear God. Nicole is not god, Bryan is not god, I am not god. We change, but God does not change. His ways are not our ways.
    I was born in sin, and I have repented from my sinful nature. I am assured that I have my name written in the book of life to live in heaven for all eternity. What say you? It is Bryan you hate? Or is it the turmoil of your own hateful soul? Repent in the name of Jesus the lamb of God and be saved. And your eyes will be opened. Jesus loves you. Why do you hate him?

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