120 – Geoffrey Winters

Geoffrey Winters is a native title lawyer who ran against Tanya Plibersek as the Liberal Party candidate for the seat of Sydney in the 2016 election. He’s a Gamillaroi man who’s openly gay and who regularly appears on ABC’s The Drum.

This is a frank discussion, featuring me trying to get my head around where Geoffrey is coming from as an Indigenous queer man who’s also a conservative. From the marriage equality survey to being in a party alongside people he disagrees with with to being “pragmatic” to what conservatism can offer first nations peoples to what (if anything) would make him consider leaving the Liberals.

I got a lot out of this conversation and Geoffrey was mighty patient with me. I hope you like it.

**COME SEE LIASYO LIVE @ YACK FESTIVAL WITH STAN GRANT, NOVEMBER 11th**

Donate to the National Compassion Fund to help victims of the Las Vegas shooting

@WintersGeoffrey

Gay Indigenous Liberal candidate is more than just a wedge

Article: He’s gay, Indigenous and 27, but Geoffrey Winters says he’s the model of a modern Liberal

Young & Black: an SBS documentary  

Cause of the Week: Libs & Nats Say Yes (libsnatsyes.com.au)

Direct download             iTunes           libsyn

An Important & Overdue Letter

 

After seeing that video on twitter a couple of weeks ago, I got all teary and happy and uncomfortable at the same time. It was immediately clear to me that this was something I had to do, too. Amongst this stupid, bullshit, hate-ridden cluster-dump of a postal survey, I would have to make the effort and have a conversation with my gran Nola and my great aunt Shirley about who I am and what this vote means to me. We have never really spoken frankly about my sexuality until now: they had never met a boyfriend or asked if I was seeing anyone. Now was the time. I had to be honest and clear about this and try to reach out across a generation. I had to try.

Below is the (slightly edited) letter I ended up sending them:

Dear Gran and Shirley,

Hello! I hope you’re both doing well.

I probably should have written something like this a long, long time ago, but I didn’t, and I’m sorry about that, so here we are.

I’m writing to ask you both to consider voting Yes in the current postal survey on marriage equality. No doubt you’ve heard a fair bit of banging on about it in the news of late and perhaps you’ve already received your voting slip in the mail by the time you read this. If I’m honest, I think this method of bringing about reform to the Marriage Act is completely unnecessary, expensive and a tad cruel, but hey – this is where we are. This is the fun outcome of good ol’ fashioned Australian politics.

Gran and Shirley, as I’m pretty sure you’re aware by now, I am gay. I’ve known that I’m gay since I was 15 years old. I did not like that fact about myself initially: it took me a long time to come to terms with who I am. There were a few years when I hated this part of myself. I tried to deny it and push it down inside me. Throughout my life I have seen and experienced homophobia in the schoolyard, on the internet, in our media and in our parliament. I have often been made to feel dirty, lesser, excluded or abnormal because of something about myself that I cannot change and that doesn’t hurt anyone. I don’t want to complain too much: in many ways, I’ve been extremely lucky, thanks to support from a loving family and dear friends, and there are plenty of queer-identifying people who have it much tougher than me. But still, that unmistakable sense of rejection that comes from growing up in a homophobic society lingers with me. I can’t help but see it all around me as this debate about marriage equality plays out in the media every day.

For me, the chance to reform the Marriage Act to fully include same-sex couples is an extraordinary opportunity for us, as a country, to be a kinder, more loving and more welcoming place. It is an opportunity for us to in some way acknowledge the wrongs of the past – decades of societal, legal and religious discrimination towards the queer community – and celebrate our diversity. It’s a chance for us to send a message to the same sex couples who have been together for decades and for queer young people: a message that says you are loved, you are full citizens and you deserve to be treated equally before the law. I know for a fact that to a scared 15-year-old growing up in country Australia, trying to figure out their place in the world, a message like that would mean a lot.

If I’m honest, I can’t say that marriage is a definite feature of my future plan for myself (finding a boyfriend might be a helpful first step). But I would very much like – and firmly believe that I deserve – the choice to make that decision, just as (my brother) Gavin does, and just as (my cousins) Michael and Lucy and Anna do and Chris and Andrew and Beth did. If I’m lucky enough to find someone with whom I want to spend the rest of my life, the chance to celebrate that fully with my family and my friends and yes, in the eyes of the law, would be a lovely thing indeed.

I know that this change might seem radical or hard to understand. I recognise that religion is an important part of your lives and I respect that, while not being religious myself. On this point I would just stress that if this reform is approved, no church would be forced to conduct same-sex marriages: no one on the Yes side of the campaign is calling for that. This relates to the secular institution of marriage, as defined by the Marriage Act, which John Howard changed in 2004 to specifically exclude same-sex couples. Secondly, while I’m more than happy to plead my ignorance when it comes to specific Biblical passages, it seems to me that the crucial lessons of Christian teachings are about loving one’s fellow human beings and showing them kindness and understanding, even when it’s hard to do so. I suppose that’s what I’m asking of you now.

I am a gay Australian. I am not ashamed of being gay anymore: I am proud of who I am. I am proud of what I’ve learned and I’m proud of the incredible community of people I’ve come across since coming out to the world. I try my best to be a good person. I am your grandson. I am your great nephew. I love you both with every fibre of my being. And I am now asking you to please, vote yes for marriage equality.

Thank you for taking the time in reading this. Again, I’m sorry I haven’t had the guts to write something like it a bit sooner. Please let me know if you’d like to chat about this further; I’d love to talk any time.

Lots of love,

Tom xx

 

I don’t share this with you to look super awesome or gain some emotional brownie points: I’m sharing this because my dad let my know that by the time they’d received this letter yesterday, Nola and Shirley had already returned their survey slips in the post. Jesus Christ. THEY’D ONLY RECEIVED THEM ON WEDNESDAY.

Say what you like about the Ballard family, we do not fuck about when it comes to admin.

I do not know how my gran and great aunt voted, but I have a pretty good idea. And perhaps my letter could have changed that.

Please – if you’re like me and you’ve put this off, do something about it now. Not everyone is as insanely pro-active as these two ladies; many people may not have even received their slips yet. I know it can be awkward and hard and painful, but if you can reach out to your family members and share your stories and explain to them why you think voting Yes matters – whether you’re queer yourself or someone who considers themselves an ally – then please, do it. Do it now. I know it’s bullshit, I know we shouldn’t even have to be doing this, but we do, and we can, so we should.

Also here is a lovely piece from a lovely man named Ben that is worth your time. 

Yours in queer love,

Tom x

40 – David Marr (Part Two)

davidmarr_parttwo_logo

David Marr is a self-described “bourgeois do-gooder”. He’s written for Fairfax Media, The MonthlyThe Saturday Paper and Guardian Australia, appeared on Q&AThe Drum and Insiders and is the author of multiple in-depth profiles for the Quarterly Essay.

In this second part of our chat, I ask David to outline the complex and bleak politics surrounding our policies towards refugees. Why are we so terrified of the boats? Why do our politicians stoke those fears? Is there any possibility of a solution?

Part One of my conversation with David

A Very Canberra Comedy Festival Christmas

My 2016 stand-up show The World Keeps Happening at the Brisbane Comedy Festival

Dark Victory by David Marr and Marian Wilkinson 

Cause of the Week: Doctors Without Borders (doctorswithoutborders.org)

Direct download      iTunes      libsyn

WATCH: Fully Furnished

 

Behold! The web series pilot that Tommy Dassalo and I have been working on for the past 7 or so months.

It is our Chinese Democracy.

We think it’s dumb and funny and original and I’d love you to watch it and maybe even share it amongst your friends and loved ones if you get the chance.

If you’d like to get more of an insight into our DEEP AND INVOLVED CREATIVE PROCESS, jump on over to the SBS Comedy website here.

My Top 10 Tracks Of 2014

Seems everyone is talking about the #Hottest100

 

 

I can’t believe those people were in the room at the SAME TIME?!?!?!?!

See what you make of my favourite tunes of the year (here in no particular order) and then get voting yourself on the triple j website here.

 

Jungle – Busy Earnin’ 

Undeniable banger, awesome film clip, was used in the promos for Broad City – what else do ya want???

 

The Kite String Tangle – Arcadia 

Given The Chance was so damn catchy and striking, KTST had a lot to live up to, and I reckon he totally nailed it with this pop gem. This bittersweet love song about people trying and giving up gives me chills every time I hear it.

 

Robert Plant – Rainbow 

You know how there are some legacy acts out there that you see every now and again and you think “Oh that’s nice to see him/her because s/he is still around and s/he is a musical legend and their older music means a lot to me but I can’t imagine they’re STILL writing good songs?”

That’s what I thought when I saw Robert Plant on The Colbert Report earlier this year. And then he played this. And yes, it’s kind of cheesey hippy love-rock, but fuck it – that’s right up my alley.

 

Against Me! – FUCKMYLIFE666

A great song in its own right, but framed by the story of Laura Jane Grace, the lead singer of a power-punk band that bravely and proudly came out as transgender, then released a corker of an album in Transgender Dysphoria Blues, it becomes seminal. I love the feeling of a song hitting you full in the face, stirring something deep inside you as you slowly realise that truly, you’re listening to an ANTHEM.

No more troubled sleep, there’s a brave new world that’s raging inside of me!

 

 

Courtney Barnett – Bein’ Around

A perfect cover of a perfect song.

 

Taylor Swift – Shake It Off

#SorryNotSorry

 

Snakehips – Days With You (Feat. Sinead Harnett)

CHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOON. Straight up.

 

Sun Kil Moon – I Can’t Live Without My Mother’s Love 

Benji is my favourite album of the year, even though it took my heart and jumped on it and wrenched it out and shot it and sliced and diced it over and over. This gorgeously simple folk tribute from a son to his mother makes me cry and even more thankful for the women in my life.

 

Phantogram – Fall In Love 

There’s so much going on in this and I’m happy about all of it. I must have listened to this at least 100 times now and every time I do, I find something new. It’s dense, interesting and confronting pop that still manages to be a bunch of fun and convey the sporadic euphoria and darkness of falling for someone.

 

Kimbra – 90s music

Nothing gives me a music-stiffy quicker than an artist making a statement and presenting the world with their singular, uncompromised vision. Kimbra just doesn’t give a fuck: she makes the demented pop she wants to make and presents it with gusto. I just love her, I loved her record, I loved her performing this on Letterman and yes, I love 90s music (and listening to it erry day). \m/ 

It’s A Date

 

I was lucky enough to do an episode of Peter Helliar‘s It’s A Date with my lovely friend Joel Creasey. You can check it out on ABC iView here.

And just to show that we can all have a laff, here are some blooooooperz:

 

Reality Check

Hey mum (and other people who read this) – I got a TV show!

Come August I’ll be lucky enough to be working with ABC TV and the great folks at CJZ TV to bring you REALITY CHECK, a panel show about the ins and outs of reality television.

More details to come, but for now here’s the fancy press release including a cheeky quote that displays my trademark irreverent humour:

Lifting the lid on the juggernaut that is ‘Reality TV’ to give viewers a look inside is Reality Check, ABC’s new 8 x 30 minute studio entertainment series.

We may froth about Game Of Thrones and True Detectives, but for all the social media noise, those shows are not what the public is really watching. No. They’re glued to ordinary people competing for TV prizes, for the promise of love, fame, riches, a new career, a different life…

Hosted by comedian Tom Ballard and co-produced by CJZ and ABC TV, Reality Check will explore the reality of ‘Reality TV’.

Joining Tom each week will be three industry experts who will give viewers an insider take on the world’s most-watched TV genre. From producers to ex-contestants and judges, the panellists will give us their war stories and reveal what happens behind the camera.

“I couldn’t be happier that CJZ and the ABC TV accidentally came across my audition tape for Australia’s Next Top Model and decided to give me this job,” said host Tom Ballard. “I’m looking forward to celebrating and laughing at the inner workings of this cultural phenomenon. I’m also excited to be able to finally count live-tweeting The Voice: Kids as ‘work’ and to claim all my Justice Crew merch on tax.”

“Reality is TV’s 800 pound gorilla,” says ABC Head of Entertainment Jon Casimir. “It’s the most successful cultural force of the last decade. It’s the ABC’s job to examine the world we live in. We hope Reality Check will give ‘Reality TV’ its due, acknowledging its drawing power and asking why it works and what that says about us.”

“Reality is dramatic, funny, poignant, and in many ways, reflects our community more accurately than any other genre. This series examines how it works and asks the question: if Stephen Spielberg is a genius for making audiences cry, why shouldn’t reality producers be lauded for doing the same thing?” says Nick Murray, Managing Director CJZ.

Reality Check will screen on ABC in quarter three of this year.