My father Merv Barnett penned this cartoon in June 2008 in response to a JCCV advertisement in the Australian Jewish News showing the dozens of organisations represented by the JCCV. Glaringly absent from the tree of community organisations was Aleph Melbourne, or any other organisation representing the interests of GLBT Jews. Needless to say this is still the case. Hopefully 2012 will bring a more positive outlook toward GLBT Jews from the JCCV’s leadership.
Yesterday was Christmas Day. For me it is the culmination of an annoying time of the year when I avoid shopping centres and am surrounded by a peculiar sense of cheer that is predominantly about gift-giving, family coming together and consuming food and wine. It doesn’t seem to me to be a time that most care to reflect on what it is they’re actually celebrating. Not that most these days would want to.
It’s not a time of the year that evokes any fond childhood memories in me, and in fact aside from the pleasure gained from having learnt some of the more traditional Christmas carols at the state primary school I attended, Christmas then was actually a time of the year that made me feel awkward. This was because I had to tell those students at school who got all sorts of fabulous gifts for their Christmas that I didn’t get presents from Santa because my family didn’t celebrate Christmas, a completely incomprehensible concept for them.
I saw my first white Christmas yesterday, not that it mattered an iota to me, although it was unusual for an Australian summer. There was a violent hail-storm over much of Melbourne mid-afternoon. It was stormy all day, and in fact from first thing, before I got up to go to the gym at 7:30am there had been rolling thunder looming. I quite enjoyed the tempest, but I was concerned that my car might have been damaged by the hail. Fortunately mine escaped unscathed, unlike others that I saw had holes through their windscreen in very telling fashion.
Annoyingly, I found my driver side window had been down and a lot of water had come into my car during the storm, which is really weird because generally I don’t leave my windows down when the car is unattended. Today I’m trying to dry out the car’s interior.
What I did enjoy about yesterday was the quality time my partner Gregory and his children spent with their mother Jennie, giving and opening presents in the morning, and then at lunch with Gregory’s sister Angela and her family. It’s been a lovely tradition that I’ve shared in over the past four Christmases.
I had to laugh though, earlier in the day, as I went to collect a cake for a Chanukah party this afternoon that I’m helping organise. I went to Danish Nosh, in Glenhuntly Road, South Caulfield. It’s a cake shop that sells traditional Jewish / Eastern European cakes and delicacies to a predominantly Jewish / Eastern European clientele. Disappointingly, the shop was closed today but it was open yesterday on Christmas Day, so I went yesterday. As I walked in I was greeted with the sound of Christmas Carols on the sound system. After paying for my pear and cinnamon cake the delightful assistant of Asian background wished me a merry Christmas. I suspect the irony of her actions escaped her. It made me chuckle, and made my Christmas Day.
On December 21, 2011 a message was posted by Paul Winter of Chatswood, NSW on the J-Wire news site in response to an article I wrote about marriage equality:
The entirety of this comment is offensive in the extreme. The author states that GLBT people are “abnormal”, “disabled”, “developmentally immature”, “confused”, “not fully developed”, “in need of counselling” and implies that we are not capable of having “fully functioning and fulfilling” relationships.
Winter’s anti-intellectual ramblings are reminiscent of that employed by the infamous dictators who relegated undesirables to sub-human status.
Further to a complaint by me regarding the deeply offensive and vilifying nature of the comment, the J-Wire editor Henry Benjamin swiftly removed the comment. Fortunately the damage done by publication of the comment had been mitigated.
I hope never to see this sort of language published ever again on any web site, especially a Jewish one.
Feathery softness, pink and grey
Perched high on the power line
Two Galahs, best mates
Nuzzling close, friends, or more?
A beautiful sight from down below
Seen whilst driving, in the morn
Peacefully playful, tender, together
The simplicity of the moment
Two creatures in the wild
Loving, caring, bonding, sharing
Or a primal instinctive behaviour?
They don’t care, neither should we
A pair of Galahs, high on a wire
Oblivious to all but themselves
A reward to see, in pink and grey
Few finer ways to start my day
Just like a fairy-tale, once upon a time (in 1984) Australia’s Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, said she’d fight for homosexual rights. But with the power of the big job going to her head, she decided equality for gays was a bad, bad thing, and changed her tune. Perhaps she’d even forgotten about the old days, the idealistic, head-rushing days of her student youth. Will there be a happily ever after in this fairy tale?