Interview on the Manny Waks Hour, Feb 13 2014

February 15, 2014

Interview on the Manny Waks Hour on J-Air, Feb 13 2014.

“Manny Waks talks Education with Yossi Goldfarb. He talks to Michael Barnett about being gay and Jewish. Devorah Leah Waks calls from Israel for (The Waks Effect) segment.”

Skip to 29 minutes in to hear me, aptly just after the Barbra Streisand song.


Bereft of a cultural identity

October 16, 2013

Today my workplace has foisted upon me “Cultural Diversity Day”.  There have been about two weeks build-up to this grand event, with momentum over the last couple of days growing to fever-pitch amongst the organising teams.  We have been asked to bring in items of food from our cultural background, wear culturally identifying garments (or supply them to be hung on display), bring in items of cultural interest, and so forth.

This has left me totally bewildered, and to a certain extent, depressed.

I don’t have a recognisable cultural identity.  Nor do I want one.  Most especially I don’t want anyone to force me to have one.

Let me explain.

I was born in Australia and as I live here permanently I consider myself Australian.  My parents were born in England and New Zealand.  They don’t particularly consider themselves English or New Zealanderish.  My father probably considers himself more Rhodesian than English anyway, as that is where he grew up, but he’s definitely Aussie these days.

Their parents, grandparents and great-grandparents were born in England, Poland, Lithuania, Russia, Poland and Belarus.  Aside from my English grandparents on my father’s side, the others would probably have distanced themselves from their national identity.  Why?  They were culturally and ethnically Ashkenazi Jews.

Their Yiddish culture permeated my upbringing, in terms of language, food, identity and heritage.  Yet that is not me.  I do not identify as a Jew, as I believe religion is divisive and creates barriers to equality and harmony.  I enjoy the influences I grew up with, but I don’t cling to them.

And so, as a first generation Australian who does not have an ethnic or religious identity, how do I contribute in an event at my workplace that wants me to label myself with a culture?  Hard call, and one that does not make me very happy to have to do, despite wanting to contribute even in a small if not token way.

Yet I came up with a compromise.  I brought in some lively, uplifting, happy, “freilach” Klezmer music.  Music of my ancestors.  Music I can identify with, that does not have a geography, does not have a specific ideology, that does not label me anything, and most importantly is universally loved and is most definitely cultural.

I am more than a label and I don’t want to have to choose one, or have anyone hang a label on me, as labels are restrictive and can be divisive.

This Cultural Diversity Day at my workplace has been very powerful for me and has allowed me to reflect deeply on who I am.  It will be interesting to see how the day pans out and how I feel at the end of it.  First and foremost though, I am Michael.


VicBears. Are you in yet?

March 9, 2013

http://www.vicbears.org.au


FRIEND Film: Joseph’s Story

October 4, 2012
Please Watch & Share
Joseph’s Story of almost committing suicide & overcoming being bullied.
I would be forever grateful if you would share this amazing story of a young teen on your Facebook Page. I met Joseph in Tennessee while interviewing LGBT teens across America. His story changed my life and inspired me to really honor him in my writing.  Our goal is to get the video viral by October 11 for Coming Out Day.
Once Again Thank You,
Elliot London
FRIEND Film is about a gay & transgendered teenager dealing with coming out in 2012. A world of social networking and social change.

www.indiegogo.com/friendproject
www.facebook.com/myfriend
www.facebook.com/elliotdlondon


Director Elliot London Wants You as Friend to LGBT Youth through

National Awareness Campaign

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

(LOS ANGELES – OCT. 2, 2012) – It’s no doubt difficult being a teenager in today’s society, especially a gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered teen.

But through it all, having strong allies and friends does tend to make it easier.

Once a victim of childhood bullying and homophobia himself, film director Elliot London (The Wedding Dance) has embarked today on an empowering and eye-opening campaign across America, hoping to bring awareness to the plight of LGBT youth bullying, and the importance of support systems.

The “Friend Project” is a new campaign showcasing two separate, yet thematically connected digital vignettes from two teenagers in different parts of rural America sharing their raw and tear-jerking stories of growing up gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered in the conservative heartland of America.

Starting today, each week for the next two weeks, London will share a new video with the public, with the ultimate goal of bringing these stories and others to life through an upcoming feature film entitled Friend.

In a completely hands-on and hybrid approach, both teenagers are also acting as creative liaisons on the project, having helped integrate their own life stories into the script.

“It’s a film that will bring the narrative and the reality into one,” says London. “We will be integrating a point of view from real life teenage experiences, rather than from a room of writers in Hollywood.”

He continues, “It’s so important that we continue to support and foster true independent American cinema. Unlike many other influential nations, we do not have the luxury of much government funding, grants and support they do for indie cinema, especially in a niche market.”

In the first film,  viewers will get to meet Joseph, a timid, yet courageous 16-year-old boy from Tennessee who once thought suicide was the only way out from the pain and torment that bullying carved into his impressionable young soul.

Anyone interested in becoming a part of Friend is encouraged to visit the project’s IndieGoGo campaign page at indiegogo.com/friendproject All donations are tax-deductible, as this film is being supported through Fractured Atlas, a registered 501(c)3.

 

Contact Information
phone: 310.691.4616
losangeleselliot@yahoo.com


“Gay Pirates” by Cosmo Jarvis (the extended mix)

April 25, 2012


I kissed a man and Allah-ked it

April 17, 2012

A group of radical, fanatical Jihadi Islamic protesters gathered at the Global Atheist Convention on Sunday April 15 2012.  Seemingly they felt that atheism was a threat to humanity and their very existence.

Gregory and I had a smooch in front of these whack-jobs and they started howling that we would “burn in hell”.

Our friend Pete Darwin captured the moment with my trusty Nikon and the rest is history.

A couple of my dear friends giving some love back to the protesting Muslims at the Global Atheist Convention today!

“A couple of my dear friends giving some love back to the protesting Muslims at the Global Atheist Convention today!” — Pete Darwin

There’s been a bunch of coverage online:

If you find any other places that have covered this story, please let me know.

Original photographs on Picasa and Facebook.

Thanks to Katy Perry for inspiration.


Global Atheist Convention 2010

April 12, 2012

I attended the inaugural Global Atheist Convention in 2010.  It was an exhilarating weekend packed with some of the finest speakers from Australia and around the world.  There were so many highlights for me, although perhaps the biggest highlight was getting to meet a long-standing idol Robyn Williams, and more recent source of inspiration, PZ Myers.

PZ Myers, Mikey Bear and Robyn Williams at 2010 Global Atheist Convention Gala Dinner

PZ Myers, Mikey Bear and Robyn Williams at 2010 Global Atheist Convention Gala Dinner

Please enjoy my collection of photographs from the weekend of March 12-14 2010.  I’ve posted them to Picasa, Plus, and Facebook.  I invite your comments.

Stand tuned for the photographs from the second Global Atheist Convention, this coming weekend, April 13-15 2012.

Lastly, recapture some of the excitement from 2010 through the eyes of the Bruce Llama.


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