Monday, September 03, 2012

Equality Forum gives sneak peek of LGBT History Month honorees

October is LGBT History Month. The following is a sneak peek at those who have been chosen for spotlights, including a controversial pick. Can you guess who it is? Visit for more information.

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Why gays and lesbians should pity Bryan Fischer while denouncing him

Bryan Fischer
Last week, gay activist Michelangelo Signorile conducted an interview with homophobic firebrand Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association.

Fischer is infamous for negative comments about the gay community and anyone else who doesn't fit his idea of normalcy.

One portion of the interview came across as sad to me and I will tell you why after featuring it:

Regarding his frequently railing against gay men and making unsubstantiated connections to pedophilia, Fischer bristled when it was pointed out to him that every major medical and mental health group, such as the American Psychological Association, rejects such a connection.

“I disagree with the assessment that there’s no solid social science research behind the connection between homosexuality and pedophilia,” he countered, without referring to any studies specifically on homosexuality and pedophilia. “I believe the research is strong. I believe it is impeccable.”

Fischer then began to quote from this year's controversial Mark Regnerus study on gay-parenting, which was recently determined to be severely flawed in an audit by the very journal that published it. When that was pointed out him, he scoffed that “political pressure” caused the journal to criticize the study.

“That’s a homosexual act,” he said in describing a male pedophile molesting a male child, though studies have refuted any connection between homosexuality and pedophilia and social scientists note that most pedophiles do not have an adult sexual orientation and will often choose either gender in children they molest. “Because it’s a sexual act with someone of the same gender -- there’s no escaping that.”

Asked why he demonizes male homosexuality as dangerous because gay men are at high risk for HIV but rarely mentions lesbians, who are perhaps the lowest risk group for HIV infection (and thus it would negate his claims that homosexuality is medically risky and dangerous), Fisher claimed "lesbian behavior” is associated with medical risks too.

“Well, if you look at the Gay and Lesbian Medial Association web site,” he said. “This is the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association -- not an arm of the [Family Research Council] or [the American Family Association] or the vast right-wing conspiracy -- they identify ten specific medical risks for women who are engaged in lesbian behavior. And one of them is breast cancer and gynecological cancer. And this is the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association -- that’s not me saying that. That’s the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association saying that.”

But as renowned breast cancer specialist Dr. Susan Love has pointed out, "This has nothing to do with being a lesbian per se. Rather, it stems from the idea that lesbians are more likely to have some of the known risk factors for breast cancer: late first pregnancy or no pregnancy and obesity." When it was explained to Fischer that a possible higher incidence in breast cancer among lesbians may have to do with the fact that some studies suggest a higher incidence of breast cancer among women who do not breast feed, and that many lesbians do not have children (and thus straight women who don’t have children or don't breast feed might have an equally higher incidence of breast cancer), Fischer dismisses the fact that a possible higher incidence would have nothing to do with sexual orientation itself.

“Right, but nevertheless, the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association says, ‘Look, here are the risks, medical risks among lesbians that are higher than the general population,'" he repeated. "So I’m willing to take their word for it.”

The irony of Fischer citing the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association to cite anything regarding the gay and lesbian community is enormous.

As it is, he is not the first member of the religious right to cite the GMLA as an inaccurate way to demonize the lgbt orientation.

Two years ago, the Family Research Council's Peter Sprigg used the organization's work to attack the gay community even to the point of deliberately omitting parts of that work which placed the blame on homophobia for negative health behavior in the gay community.

While Fischer isn't as egregiously deceptive as Sprigg, he is just as stubborn. He claims that he is willing to take the GMLA's word on lesbian health, but I doubt he would take the following observations from GMLA  about the lesbian population as truth:

Lesbians may experience chronic stress from discrimination. This stress is worse for women who need to hide their orientation as well as for lesbians who have lost important emotional support because of their orientation. Living with this stress can cause depression and anxiety.

Substance Use
Lesbians may use drugs more often than heterosexual women. This can be due to stress from homophobia, sexism, and/or discrimination. Lesbians need support to find healthy ways to cope and reduce stress.

If confronted with these facts, how long would it take for Fischer to denounce the GLMA? Probably within seconds. And that's why we should pity Fischer.

He's not an intelligent person. Bryan Fischer is just a silly old man with a radio show, an extreme bastardization of the Andy Warhol saying that in the future, everyone will be famous for 15 minutes.

Fischer is stubborn even to the point of putting his fingers in his ears and making loud noises when confronted with the the truth about his inaccurate claims. He's a regular Grandpa Simpson on crack.

Of course this isn't to say that we should totally ignore Fischer. It's to say that Fischer doesn't deserve the anger he elicits from the gay community. What he deserves is mockery, pity, and whenever necessary, scapegoating.

Instead of blowing our tops at him, the gay community would be wise to point him out as one of the real faces of the religious right; a face of fear, bigotry, and lies which cannot be covered up by a plastic mask of religious piety.