Faith and Queer Identity | Stand Up Straight JOY 94.9

October 6, 2015

[NB: My first appearance in this interview is at 15:14 – MB]

Stand Up Straight / Religion / Faith and Queer Identity

Faith and Queer Identity

November 14, 2013 by

Michael, Michelle and Andrew

This weeks  show is “From Religion” I have two fascinating guys joining me:  Michael Barnett and Andrew Wheatland (from JOY’s Spirit Lounge). A Christian and a Jewish perspective, but of course, nothing is as you might think!

They tell their very different coming out experiences, and share their stories of being gay men and how this impacted on their relationship with their religion, family and friends.

Podcast: Download (Duration: 41:31 — 38.0MB)

Carl Katter, meet Barbra Streisand

August 16, 2015

On February 1 2013 Same Same published a story on Carl Katter’s political aspirations.  On August 10 2015 Crikey also published comments on Carl Katter’s political aspirations.  Crikey referred to the Same Same article:

Carl Katter has long flagged that he’s interested in a political career, saying he wanted to run before the 2013 election after joining the party in late 2012. We hope that preselection won’t tame Katter’s honest Twitter presence, including this exchange with Freedom Commissioner Tim Wilson in 2013 that was later deleted (and caught by SameSame):

The following snapshot of a Twitter exchange appeared in both articles:

Carl Katter Tim Wilson Twitter exchange

I run a public Facebook group called “Proud to be a Second-Class Australian“.  The aim of the group is to stimulate awareness of discrimination and to motivate people to campaign for LGBTIQ rights.  I post a significant amount of content as part of my activism.  Members can also post relevant content freely.  I like to ensure what I post is “warts and all”, in an effort to eliminate bias.

On August 10 I posted the aforementioned graphic to the Facebook group, including a link to the Crikey article.  I captioned the image “I said love, I said pet, I said princess.”  Shortly after posting the image I received a message from Carl Katter and then he blocked me.  Fair enough.  He’s entitled to do this.  He did this a couple of years ago too.  Some time in the middle he unblocked me.  I guess at that point he felt he wanted me back as a Facebook friend.

Here is what he sent me on both occasions:

Carl Katter Facebook messages

A little after receiving this message I got a warning on Facebook that I had breached their “community standards” and notification of a 7 day ban on posting to Facebook.  This means that someone had reported content I had posted on Facebook and Facebook had decided it was somehow inappropriate.  This is the message Facebook sent me:

Facebook message on Katter Twitter issue

I’m about 6 days through the 7 day ban:

Facebook 7 day posting ban

It’s been a frustrating week for me as this ban has severely limited my capacity to do my activism.  It’s been the busiest news week in 11 years on marriage equality.  It’s been the week in which I was the key player in breaking a story on a controversial reparative (“gay cure”) therapist coming to talk to a Melbourne Jewish child sexual abuse group.  It’s been the week one the biggest marriage equality rallies ever happened in Melbourne.  It’s been the week Carl Katter probably needed some good publicity in his election campaign.  It’s also been another week I’ve not needed more unnecessary distractions in my personal life.

So I ask the question why Carl Katter would not want me to post a picture that is already in the public domain, about comments he posted on Twitter two years ago.  Why would he block me on Facebook for doing this?  Why would someone concerned about Carl Katter’s reputation report a photo of a public Twitter conversation including him to Facebook that resulted in me copping a harsh 7-day posting ban?  I get no say in this outcome on Facebook.  I just have to cop it sweet.  I’ve mostly managed to work around it but it’s wasted my time and significantly diminished my capacity to fight for LGBTIQ equality during a particularly important week.

If Carl Katter is concerned about his image and if he wants to maximise his chances of winning the seat of Higgins, it certainly doesn’t bode well for him to piss off gay rights activists.

Why am I so harsh on him?  He’s abused me.  He’s abused my husband Gregory.  He’s abused other people in the LGBTIQ community.  If he is going to stand for public office he needs to stop abusing people.  Actually, he needs to stop abusing people irrespective of whether he is standing for public office.  But he is not going to get away with abusing people when he stands for public office.  Carl Katter needs to be accountable for his words.

Carl Katter, meet Barbra Streisand.

Put a Marriage Equality statement in your wedding ceremony

December 28, 2014

My husband Gregory and I went to Canberra for the wedding of our friends Melanie and Ari on December 7 2014.  That day was also the first anniversary of same-sex marriages being temporarily legalised in the Australian Capital Territory.

Ari invited me to deliver a message of Marriage Equality at the wedding, as a friend of his who is an activist for marriage equality and as a man who was recently married to a man in New Zealand.  I was honoured to have been asked and without hesitation I accepted.

Order of Ceremony - Mel & Ari - Dec 7 2014

Ari and Mel object to the Federal government’s refusal to legislate in favour of Marriage Equality in Australia and they, along with an increasing number of opposite-sex couples, are incorporating statements of protest in their wedding ceremonies.

I read the following statement:

Speech for Mel & Ari’s wedding – December 7 2014

Today… the celebrant will declare as a requirement that marriage is the coming together of a woman and a man.  Just remember that as these mandatory words are said today my husband Gregory and I stand in defiance of them.

I know Mel and Ari would rather this formality was not part of the proceedings.  So rather than let it diminish the occasion, I’m going to treat the clause as a gift from the government, to mark a point in time where we all aspired for greater freedom, equality, dignity and humanity.  When the discrimination in the law is erased and marriage is available to all, this will be a memento of the sweet success of that win.

I’m grateful for the friendship Gregory and I have with these two fine people, about to be married here today.  We value the respect they have for our relationship and without hesitation we deeply respect theirs.  As different as we may be individually, we share a love for our respective partners and in that, our relationships are truly equal.

If you’re attending a wedding between a woman and a man in Australia, ask the bride or groom if they’ve planned a Marriage Equality statement for their ceremony.  If they haven’t, send them this article and suggest they do it, in the name of equality.  It’s important, and it’s too easy.

My Marriage Vows

September 5, 2014

Wedding Vows

January 30, 2014
Stoneridge Estate
Queenstown, New Zealand


I ask everyone here today to witness that I Michael Nathan Barnett choose you Gregory Paul Storer to be my legal husband.

Gregory.  If I were asked to describe in one word what you mean to me it would simply be: “Everything”.  You mean the world to me – in *so* many ways…

Setting out to climb Mt Amos in Tasmania, a 15 year goal of mine.  Reaching the top, together, amazed at our efforts and the breathtaking views surrounding us.

Stopping by the roadside as we return from Mt Gambier to watch a koala bound up it’s tree.

Sitting in a forest at dusk, just us and some tiny bats getting their dinner.

Walking through a Croajingolong coastal heathland filled with the prettiest wild flowers.

Dining on Bala’s curries while enjoying a St Kilda beach sunset, then journeying to see the fairy penguins and the mischievous water rats.

Returning from our first equality rally in Albury to find a magnificent echidna, roadside, digging and snuffling for ants.

Drinks at the Laird enjoying the best of what it means to be a man.

Sharing a dinner of poached salmon and ginger while watching Q&A.

Standing on a 380 million year old mountain range in the Grampians, free from every care in the world.

Coffee and cakes at Grecos with Caitlin & Tomas.

Protesting for our rights at every Equal Love rally.

Brunches at La Cafe and walks along Carlisle Street.

Our kiss, in front of wildly fanatical protestors at the 2012 Global Atheist Convention that starts a worldwide viral sensation.

Standing by your side as you buried your sister and your parents.

Having a fight… and learning from our mistakes.

Your face nuzzled in *my* furry chest.  Your arms around me.  Your warm kiss on my lips.

Star gazing together into infinity at Mt Baimbridge and Bastion Point.  Trying to comprehend the sheer insignificance of our presence in *this* universe.  Realizing the meaninglessness of our existence.  Marvelling at the scale of just *what* is out there.

He’ll have a long black, make mine a long macchiato… with Equal.

Smoked salmon on Vita Weat.

Despairing together over the plight of those who don’t have a meal, those who don’t have a home, those who don’t have a country, those who have less than us and those who don’t know what they don’t have.  Crying, and trying to feel *their* pain.

You finding a tiny orchid on the forest floor, so delicate and pretty, for *me* to photograph.

Transforming our bodies from beyond obese – to amazingly healthy and fit.

Watching skillful New Holland Honeyeaters at Gypsy Point, them – plucking bugs from the air and us – sharing a freshly baked blueberry muffin.

Warming our frozen bodies with a delicious brewed coffee and hot toast and honey at the Sundial carpark.

Gado gado and Bali Coffee at Wong’s Cafe.

Becoming a truly loved son-in-law, brother-in-law and uncle to *my* most immediate family members.

A warm embrace after a long day as we fall asleep – together – in bed.

Interrupting my Cointreau chocolate mousse at Bridges last September in Ubud, to sweep me off my feet with the most unexpected and truly wonderful marriage proposal.

Gregory, YOU are the person who has brought so much into *my* life – every one of these amazing experiences – and *so* much more.  Each one different from the other and all equally wondrous.

The first five years of our relationship have been a fantastic journey.  I can’t tell you how much I am looking forward to completing this journey with you – in whatever form it takes.

Life is unpredictable – and *forever* is hard to comprehend, but I want to do it with you, by your side, for however long we can be together – as your friend… your companion… your adventurer… your activist… your lover… your man… your Mikey Bear…… and your husband.

You can read the vows Gregory said to me here.

The absurd reasoning for his prejudice

August 27, 2014

Jewish leaders accused of ignoring homophobia | ABC PM

October 30, 2013

Jewish leaders accused of ignoring homophobia

Alison Caldwell reported this story on Wednesday, September 16, 2009 18:34:00

Listen to MP3 of this story ( minutes)
Alternate WMA version | MP3 download

MARK COLVIN: A rift is developing in Australia’s Jewish community over the treatment of homosexuals.

A major gay and lesbian support group claims Jewish community leaders are ignoring discrimination and hate language aimed at homosexuals. It wants Jewish representative bodies to come up with a clear policy upholding gay rights.

Alison Caldwell reports.

ALISON CALDWELL: When two young people were shot dead in Tel Aviv last month at a gay and lesbian youth centre, Melbourne-based Michael Barnett wanted nothing more than for the leaders of the Australian Jewish community to take a stand against violence towards homosexuals. But he says his calls for action fell on deaf ears.

MICHAEL BARNETT: The Israeli leadership, the Prime Minister, the President of Israel, they spoke out against intolerance and hatred and said you know, everyone deserves respect.

Yet in Melbourne where there is the family of one of the two people killed, there wasn’t even a single statement from the community leaders.

ALISON CALDWELL: He says the silence from the Jewish leadership was symptomatic of a much deeper problem.

MICHAEL BARNETT: There’s a lot of intolerance of gay people in the Jewish people. Calling gay people perverted and disgusting, comparing gay people to people who commit incest or bestiality, there’s all this language that gets used from people like some rabbis in the orthodox world who speak out against gay people.

ALISON CALDWELL: Michael Barnett is the coordinator of Aleph Melbourne, a support group for homosexual people in the Jewish community. He believes representative groups are afraid to express their support for homosexuals for fear of offending ultra-orthodox groups in the community.

MICHAEL BARNETT: I want every state and national Jewish peak body in Australia to have a specific, unambiguous policy addressing the persecution of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Jews in regard to homophobic hate and intolerance, irrespective of whether it originates from outside or inside the Jewish community.

The policies must be enforced with the same zero tolerance afforded to anti-Semitism and holocaust rhetoric and other hate crimes.

ALISON CALDWELL: Much of his anger is levelled at a Jewish blog which recently described homosexuality as “depravity and debasement” and extolled the virtues of reprogramming homosexuals.

In July, a Sydney rabbi wrote to the Australian Jewish News, comparing homosexual intercourse with adultery, bestiality and incest.

JOHN SEARLE: If it’s a matter that’s guided by religious laws, then those laws will presumably be applied. Now I can’t say very much about those because I’m not an expert in those areas.

ALISON CALDWELL: John Searle is the president of the Jewish Community Council in Victoria. It describes itself as the roof body of Victorian Jewry. On its website, it says it shows zero tolerance towards anti-Semitism and racism but it has nothing to say about supporting or protecting gay or lesbian people within the Jewish community.

JOHN SEARLE: If we need to rewrite a policy that was written some time ago, we can certainly look at that and if it needs to be adjusted in any way, we can adjust that.

ALISON CALDWELL: John Searle says he’s against vilification of any sort.

JOHN SEARLE: The JCCV has issued statements condemning vilification of all minority groups, including vilification based on grounds of sexual orientation, sexual preference.

ALISON CALDWELL: He says the council has sought advice from numerous sources on how to be more inclusive and will invite gay and lesbian support groups to events in the future.

Michael Barnett says it’s not enough.

MICHAEL BARNETT: Lip service, motherhood statements, platitudes, rhetoric, anything but “yes, we’re going to do this and take it seriously”.

JOHN SEARLE: I reject the allegation or assertion that inviting people to participate in community events is simply lip service.

ALEX FEIN: My blog is called The Sensible Jew.

ALISON CALDWELL: Jewish blogger Alex Fein has written about the issue in recent weeks. She says the vast majority of Jews support homosexuals and describes those who don’t as minority extremists. But she says groups like the Jewish Community Council of Victoria need to be more proactive.

ALEX FEIN: It’s not enough to say that homophobia is problematic. I think all people of good faith would like to see concrete action.

MARK COLVIN: Alex Fein the author of the blog known as the, ending Alison Caldwell’s report.

Not asking. Demanding equal rights!

September 19, 2013


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