Today I talk with Yuval David.
Yuval is an accomplished actor, filmmaker, content creator, and activist. But the biggest reason I wanted to have a conversation with him is because of his attitude.
His motivation for doing all of these things comes from a place of love. If you have already listened to the first Being a Man, or BAM episode, you’ll remember that I’m big on understanding our core motivations, our feelings, our foundational beliefs about ourselves.
Because when we do that, we get what we want.
What Yuval wants is a better life for the planet and his communities. Yuval’s core motivation is love, and he is committed to a life of the ‘loving adventurer.'
I hope you’ll find some useful information and inspiration as well. Enjoy the episode.
We talked about:
Find more about Yuval David on:
Episode full transcript:
Mike Gerle 0:00
This is the GerleMen podcast. My name is Mike Gerle and I'm the host and founder of gerlemen.com. A site for gay men and anyone self-identified as the other, designed to help you invest in your own dignity, strengthen your connection to your chosen families, and thrive in general society. Now that you found this, please hit that subscribe button.
Today I talk with Yuval David, Yuval is an accomplished actor, filmmaker, content creator and activist. But the biggest reason I wanted to have a conversation with him is because of his attitude. His motivation for doing all of these things comes from a place of love. If you've already listened to the first Being a Man or BAM episode, you'll remember that I'm a big fan of understanding our core motivations, our feelings, our fundamental beliefs about ourselves. Because when we do that, we get what we want. What you all want is a better life for the planet and the communities he's a part of. Yuval's core motivation is love, and he is committed to the life of the loving adventure. Now on to the interview.
The moment you realized you were a gay man, you were forced onto the path of the other. So you know oppression inside and out. The calling of otherness has led you on your own hero's journey. And that journey has prepared you for greatness. You were a man entering the cult of brotherhood, to conscious sex into heart centered connection. Welcome home, brother.
Welcome, Yuval to the GerleMen podcast. I really want to thank you for being here.
Yuval David 1:41
Thank you for having me, Mike.
Mike Gerle 1:43
So before we get into knowing more about you, I believe that our state of being how we feel like really is important, it helps us make smarter decisions. It helps us know if we're in the right place to make smart decisions to get what we want. So with that being said, How are you feeling?
Yuval David 2:02
How am I feeling? that's a big question these days. I mean, we're doing this chat in the midst of this Coronavirus global pandemic. So when we hear these questions, how are you? How are you doing? What's up? How are you feeling? It's hard to just answer the way we've been socialized to answer. Yeah, without addressing the pandemic. So my go to answer that I've been using for the past month or so is: I'm doing as well as one can in the midst of a global pandemic, how I'm feeling, I have a lifelong process of aiming to focus on the positive, on the hopefulness, on the optimistic view, to find the good and connect to the good. There's so many things that are happening right now during this global pandemic that are anxiety inducing, that are stress inducing that are stressful, that cause those negative feelings. And I'm subject to that as well, just like anybody else. And I really try to take a giant, deep breath, center myself, refocus, and allow myself to be affected in the best possible way, which then in turn, allow me to affect my environment and others in the best possible way.
Mike Gerle 3:33
I agree. I agree. And I would just say to you, I've noticed what I'm saying, when I'm coming from love. I tend to make decisions that are getting me towards the goals that I'm aiming for. And when I'm coming from fear, the best that can happen is the status quo will remain but sometimes I can do some damage. And that's the reason I always like to ask how you're feeling.
Yuval David 3:58
Love is a very powerful tool. It's a very Powerful strategic choice through which our mind, body and soul when connecting to that power of love, allow any challenge to be approached with more ease with more clarity with more resilience and ultimately, I believe, with my heartfulness with more longevity.
Mike Gerle 4:22
Yeah, yeah, that's awesome. Well, you're preaching to the choir there.
Yuval David 4:28
Mike Gerle 4:30
Yuval David 4:31
Mike Gerle 4:32
Girly, Gerle. Yes, girly girl. I got that a lot. When I first moved to California, like
Yuval David 4:37
Well, I don't know I'm looking at you now you don't look very girly girl-ish.
Mike Gerle 4:42
That's what people would say a lot. And...
Yuval David 4:44
Even with those arms and chest and what is this? How are you how I thought gyms are closed. Now during this pandemic. It looks like you haven't missed your three workouts a day.
Mike Gerle 4:57
You're very very sweet. I'm actually yeah, it's it's tune. It's like skinny fat now that I call it like, I've been managing to stay thin, but it's not as it's not as tone. And there's some wonderful I do want to plug naked warrior yoga. I've been doing some yoga and I said why not do it naked? in the comfort of my own living room, doing a lot of yoga, good.
Yuval David 5:19
Yoga is great. When I lived in LA, I was doing yoga six days a week. Made some phenomenal friends. I mean, my yoga friends even though I live in New York now, my yoga friends, most of them are still really close friends. Nice community that's built in that type of environment.
Mike Gerle 5:40
It is and that's where I started this whole new spiritual journey that started later in my life like when I was like 50. That was five years ago and that's when this whole idea of coming from love was introduced to me, this whole idea of my intuition is love. There's love inside of me that's always been there. And again, that's what I've noticed, you know, we had a pretty long phone call, the prep call for this got to know each other and I just really noticed that in you, with everything that you do, but before we talk more about like this great state of being that I noticed with you, just can you give us your your overall you're you're an actor, a filmmaker, a content creator, you're all these things, a son, husband, you're Jewish, you're gay.
Yuval David 6:32
I mean, you're calling out the different parts of my identity. Yeah, I think it's very important for people to connect to who they are regarding one's own identity, and to actually count out and put in order, which are the most important elements of your identity, which parts of your identity, color, everything else you do in your life. And those can change you know, your identity is a very fluid thing, it can completely change as you progress through life and as you experience different things.
Mike Gerle 7:07
So how has yours progressed?
Yuval David 7:10
Well, right now, I would say, and I'm going to try to put these in order of the most important one first. Well, I mean, it's so easy to say human, but we're all human, so I'm not going to put that in there. We're saying animal because we're all animals. So I'm not going to put that in there. But in terms of the elements that are most important, admired identity or, or being Jewish, an artist, LGBTQ, or I guess, within that specifically gay by queer, which kind of changes and more so let me just use the LGBTQ and then being Israeli and American. Those are the elements of my identity that affect so much of what I do, and as has been pointed out to me before two of the most important parts of my identity connect to marginalized communities, being Jewish and being part of the LGBTQ community. Those are minorities. I don't often like to use the term "minority”, because I don't quite know how to deal with minority but marginalized, mixed makes a lot more sense because it pertains to an action. And with forward movement in life, if you look at a community as marginalized, you say, Okay, this marginalized community, also classified as a minority hasn't had the same rights. The same abilities hasn't had the same levels of power, but they're moving forward to have a greater existence. Yeah. What are the most important elements of your identity?
Mike Gerle 8:48
Oh, wow. Uh, right now, my most important, thank you for asking me a question. My most important things right now off the top of my head are that I am a gay elder, you know, I'm 55 and that is in the older category of the tribe. We have our youth we have our adults, we have our elders, we have our ancestors. And my job is to as an elder is to point out and bless what I judge with, hopefully some wisdom, is going good in others and that's what I'm doing with this podcast finding people like you finding people like Don Kilhefner or finding people like Dr. Frankie, who I had, whose episode airs tomorrow and and blessing that So Mike, gay elderness is probably the the most number one thing. I'm also a boyfriend, a business partner, family member, and I consider my family just everybody including my chosen and bio family. And, yeah.
Yuval David 9:54
That's great. Yeah, what's exciting about this question is when hear other people answer it, it can also make you rethink your own answer. Uh huh. With example, for example, my answer, most of them pretend to communities or nationalities, like what is a nation? A nation is a group of people who have a common characteristic. Yeah. So being Jewish, being LGBTQ, these are communities, the're nations being American.
Mike Gerle 10:26
Yuval David 10:26
It's a nation, a community. So I went to the macro. I like that you went to the micro as a, you went to the specific relationships in your life that really define and affect you. And that's, that's really beautiful. You just made me have to, like, I might, I might have to reclassify my identity. That was beautiful.
Mike Gerle 10:49
Oh, well, thank you. I think it's I read this quote, I can't remember who it is. I'm gonna botch it. But it says "When I was young, I was ambitious, and I wanted to change the world. And then I became wise, and I decided to change myself". Mm hmm. And that I do believe is the work. But I also do believe that youth have a different role than adults and adults have a different role than elders and elders have a different role than the rest. And I think it's younger people's job, to be out there to be in the streets to be really moving and shaking things up. And that really is, knowing the things that you identified, help you know where to direct your energies. As an elder, I'm looking out towards the people who are doing the heavy lifting, like you, and hopefully I'm feeding the good and letting the stuff that I would judge as as not growing us as a community or a planet and just not feeding that.
Yuval David 11:54
Yeah, absolutely. You mentioned in that quote, whether you quoted it perfectly paraphrased, it sounded beautiful, that when you grow yourself, when you focus on yourself, you're able to focus on the grander things, the world around, you in a much better way. If you're not static, if you recognize that you are not this unchangeable object that you are permeable and vulnerable and, and malleable, and the more you improve yourself, the more you can improve everybody else. I mean, we have, you have to help yourself if you're going to help somebody else, you can't help somebody else unless you're also helping yourself, because otherwise that will be at your own detriment.
Mike Gerle 12:37
Yuval David 12:37
And you will not be able to pursue that longevity. It's just like, Well, during this time, a lot of people aren't taking airplanes during this pandemic. But in the airplane says, you know, in case of an emergency, if the oxygen mask comes down, you have to put it on yourself first before you put it on somebody else.
Mike Gerle 12:56
Yuval David 12:56
If you don't help yourself, you can't help anybody else. It's the same thing. Regarding that, quote, what you just said.
Mike Gerle 13:03
Yeah, and that's the reason I start every podcast talking about what this podcast is about is to hopefully is to help us all reflect on what am I doing to invest in my into myself. And I think when I invest in myself, I'm investing in my own dignity. What am I doing to invest in my family, my support, because we can't do this alone. As much as we need to invest in ourselves, we have to invest in our family. And that makes us better for the world. So with that in mind, what do you do? I mean, sounds like you're really really busy. What do you do to take care of yourself? What's your self care? What's your How do you invest in your just your physical self and how do you invest in I would judge is, you know, your dignity. You seem to be very, very solid in these highly volatile communities. I'm talking about my community as one of them, you know, no judgment. It's just that we have a lot of fierceness and sometimes
Yuval David 14:01
Your community being which one?
Mike Gerle 14:03
The queer community, and there's layers of communities, you know, but the the queer community can be very fierce. And sometimes we point that at each other rather than outward. So what do you do to take care of yourself and all those communities? Like maybe you start with where you maybe where you are now, Is that is that a self care trip you're on?
Yuval David 14:25
Mike Gerle 14:25
I haven't answered that. Okay.
Yuval David 14:27
No, I'll get to that. What I'm doing right now is one of the things that I do for self care. Mm hmm. It's listening is breathing, is taking it in, is receiving what is happening around you, and when you breathe it in, right, which is an acting term, which is a yogic meditation term, to breathe it in, is to receive it and take it within yourself. That is something I do for self care. That's something I've been doing during my quarantine, to breathe, to breathe deeper, to allow my pulse rate to get slower, and to focus and center. That is a very important thing to be able to tap into, especially in times of hardship and strife, especially in times of stress especially in volatile situations. volatile situations, when people are attacked with a lot of energy, it's easy for them to respond with great energy in return. But if you can notice that huge volatile energy and respond with stillness, with receiving that information, and then that gives you more time to strategically decide how you will act, how you will take the next step. We see that in martial arts, you see that in Tai Chi, those are acting lessons acting as an actor, right? and in theater, film, television, it's all about reacting. I react to the other characters, to the set, to what's happening around me, even to the sounds of the audience in theater. Yeah, that's part of the things I react to. And when I react, it's much more genuine. And I'm in the moment. If I'm just following a script, and immediately responding to things, I might not be responding to exactly what was sent out in my direction, because when there's volatile energy and one immediately responds with volatile energy, then you're not really hearing everything that person is saying and you're not really hearing everything you're saying. You're completely connecting to the emotionality of it all, and while an emotional journey is a beautiful one, and it's passion filled and it's intense. It's not always right. It's not, I'm not saying it's wrong, but facts are really important things to listen to. So that's in response to in volatile situations or volatile.
Mike Gerle 17:11
Yeah. Well, I love what you're talking about. I call that intuition. Buddhists call it the sacred pause. I mean, they really mean sacred pause is what you're talking about. Where do you go inside you feel that inside your body somehow? Or is it in your head? Or is it what how does that happen? I mean, if you can feel it with your sensory system, can you articulate that? Like...
Yuval David 17:38
I feel the back of my tongue relax down and into the throat. Because the tongue actually connects down here in what we would normally call the middle or the upper portion of the middle of the throat.
Mike Gerle 17:54
Yuval David 17:55
So I feel my tongue relax. So many of us push our tongues into the hard palate. Or into the back of the top teeth. You do that right now or if the listeners at home, do that right now
Mike Gerle 18:09
I'm doing it!
Yuval David 18:10
You feel a place of tension, that's a place of tension, where relax your tongue and let it kind of melt down and back into your throat. You instinctively also relax your jaw. When people have tension, they clench their teeth together. That's a lot of unnecessary tension. And it's also not good for your teeth. If you want to have nice and pretty teeth. And Mike, I know you live in LA, in a land of beautiful teeth. So those are two things. I also let my belly expand and fill with a beautiful breath instead of only breathing into my chest. These are some areas in my body that I actually tap into.
Mike Gerle 18:52
I think that's great.
Yuval David 18:53
Take that sacred silence that, that listening The other thing I listened to and I feel it I have a very strong pulse that I can actually feel on the sides of my neck.
Mike Gerle 19:05
Yuval David 19:06
And in times of high stress, when I take that moment, I try to relax that. And if I feel it and I say to myself, okay, CTFO, which is Chill The Fuck Out. So, CTFO, and it's okay. And then if if it's in an intense situation, because oftentimes due to my advocacy work, I am in intense situations and I'm around really passionate people. So, I mean no offense to them, sometimes when I'm really checking in so much I'm not fully dedicated to what they're saying they think that I am because they see Oh, you've always now listening. Well, yes, I can multi focus, I am hearing what they're saying. But I'm also completely focused on myself. So it's this beautiful mix. I think being able to multi focus is an important thing and it's a good survival mechanism. We see animals in the wild do that, while they're grazing, they're still completely aware and listening to sounds if a predator is coming to attack them at the same time, but you know that self care is also really important. And while I speak about this now, it might sound like some self care expert. I'm also not last year was one of the busiest years of my career as an actor, host and filmmaker, and as an advocate, because my advocacy work for marginalized communities, for the communities that I'm part of, and also other communities. It was taking up a lot of time and energy, along with my professional career as an actor, as a voice actor, as a TV host, as a filmmaker, which includes being a director, being a producer, being a writer, being a content creator, all of these things were happening and I was getting exhausted. I was physically exhausted, I was mentally exhausted. Hmm. And I had to continuously tap back into what I already knew.
Mike Gerle 21:08
And you said you're not an expert, but I think we are so far away from that, especially in the West, you are you're in the top 5% or something of people that are just willing, that are doing that, or I would suspect there are other people who are good at facilitating or whatever are doing that without even being aware of it. So I just really want to acknowledge that you're teaching us, thank you and...
Yuval David 21:34
Thank you and one other thing, you said you're 55, Like what... Elder? like what? You're talking about yourself like you're in your 80s
Mike Gerle 21:43
Well, no, but...
Yuval David 21:44
Fifty five is young.
Mike Gerle 21:45
It is young, but it's not 26, you know, and I you know, I love 26, I loved 26 I still all things if I don't care about the insides, I think 26 is probably the one of the most pinnacle a beautiful times our physical existence.
Yuval David 22:04
Mike Gerle 22:04
And I wouldn't expect, anyway, I it's just yeah, it's my cellular awareness. It's my tribal. Well, it's my place in the tribe, and these are tribal archetypes that have just been studied in every tribe around the world, which means that it's truly human. I removed the beginning you said, Oh, it lets, you know, yes, I'm human, but that is one thing we're all have in common, you know, until our cultural pneus sneaks into us, we all draw the same pictures as children until we're like three to six years old. We all draw the exact same pictures. Hmm. So we're all exactly the same. And what I mean, and so I look for those things as connected things because it seems like there's nothing could be more true than that when it's globally, historically recurring, recurring, recurring and tribes have always had different roles for the youth, for the adult. And for the elders.
Yuval David 23:01
Mike Gerle 23:02
And I think contemporary society wants to push us all into the 25 to 35 when we're the most beautiful, and that's then you know, there's the divine children, and the beautiful, powerful adults and nothing else exists. I mean, if I buy into that paradigm, then it's time for me to go out to pasture. And there's really no relevant place for me, in society, especially in gay men society.
Yuval David 23:31
I think that's why because it's been so prevalent in marketing campaigns that we are affected by, anybody who absorbs media and the content that's out there. There is a focus on youth and youthfulness and beauty and so much of that focus is on it from an exterior perspective. One of the important things for all of us to remember if we are gifted with the luxury of getting older have the ageing of having a long life...
Mike Gerle 24:01
Yuval David 24:02
Is that youthfulness is also a personality trait. It's an emotional place. It's like the difference between being childlike versus childish, right to be childlike, it's something we should try to be for our entire lives, to have this childlike playfulness, a childlike imagination, a childlike openness, a childlike ability to receive stimuli. Now childish is something very different. We have some elected officials who are very childish
Mike Gerle 24:35
Yuval David 24:35
And there's a difference there between both.
Mike Gerle 24:37
Yeah, and I like to talk about that. And I actually wrote an article, I think I was not in a very positive space when I wrote it. But the difference between boy energy and mature masculinity, so instead of having a conversation about toxic masculinity, because we can put the word toxic in front of anything, anything that's destructive, and so rather than moving away from that I wanted to move towards something. And that's the difference between children and youth, boy energy and mature masculinity is, I think one is just more inward focused. And that's their job. And the other is more outward focused, mature masculinity is curious and open and doesn't need to be right all the time. And boy energy is definitely needs to be right is looking for competition, those sorts of things, which just feeds into this whole like "I'm trying to stay beautiful for my whole life", It does make me sad when I see people trying to hold on to their beauty, without any investment in any other parts of their lives.
Yuval David 25:43
Well, you know, that's one of the things that that happens to people in their formative years, if they only focus on their exterior appearance, on their exterior beauty.
Mike Gerle 25:55
Yuval David 25:55
And don't nourish the rest of themselves. Once that beauty fades or changes, they don't quite know what to do because they've invested on something that will change. When I lived in LA, I was around lots of different people and I didn't know that I had one friend when I first moved there, who is still She's like a sister to me. And so I was meeting new people. And I also encountered the people who really focused on their exterior appearance, their physical appearance, and I'm not la bashing here. I'm not about to bash Los Angeles and the Hollywood life at all. That's not the point. But...
Mike Gerle 26:34
let me give you a little bit of permission here. It's like I, you know, I was born in North Platte, Nebraska, where 80% of the people in that town, were working on the railroad. And so everywhere you went, everyone was talking about the railroad, and tools and whatnot. And LA is the same way we're really heavily impacted by the entertainment industry. And what sells is what's pretty and so a lot of people are focused on that. So It's fine. You're just talking about what we do for work around here.
Yuval David 27:04
Okay, so there were many people who were focused on, I hear what you're saying that's a good point. We're really just focused on how they looked in their appearance, but they weren't nourishing other parts of their being. And as they started to get older, and we're still connected to this youth focused society or youth focused communities, they started to struggle because they felt like they were disappearing like nobody was looking at them. Well, then stop focusing on the people who aren't looking at you and stop only focusing on people looking at you because of the size of your muscles, how your skin is, how white your teeth are, how tight your clothes are, how what we offer so much more than how we look. Now on the other hand, if you celebrate yourself, no matter how you look, if you pamper yourself, if you moisturize your skin and and take a nice bath, and wear clothes that make you feel good no matter what those clothes look like, just treat yourself well. That is sexy. That is beautiful. During those times in LA, I would see people who look stunning. And then as a conversation would start, that person became kind of unattractive, unappealing, or dare I say ugly to me.
Mike Gerle 28:23
Yuval David 28:23
And there were people in contrast, who weren't the model actor model type beautiful people, you know, the alien type people who look so incredible because of our talk what incredible is supposed to look like and I can counter the people who didn't look in that incredible way, but the more I met them, the more beautiful and appeal and attractive they became. These were the types of people who are like, Oh my gosh, I just want to be around these people. So that's important for all of us. You must be around the people who make you feel good. Not only be around the people who make you look better or who look great.
Mike Gerle 29:05
Yeah, I mean what I hear you describing is edifying that myself I'm choosing to do these things with my, you know, with the pampering and stuff it's an investment in me in my dignity in my true self rather than thinking I'm doing this because I need them to like me. I need them to...
Yuval David 29:24
They will like you if you like yourself. If you don't like yourself...
Mike Gerle 29:27
Yuval David 29:28
nobody's gonna like you. It's like, I know in our conversation, I think RuPaul got quoted. My God! what is... if you can't love yourself, How the hell you gonna love anybody else? Can I get an amen up in here? It is. Amen. And it does. You have to love yourself. And yes, we noticed those people. Those are the people, the ones who love themselves. Yeah, we're so appealing and attractive and fun to be around. Yes, as long as they don't love themselves with some obsession and they don't have space to love anybody else. There's people when it becomes a different story.
Mike Gerle 30:02
Yeah. And I think that's one of the things that was like eye opening to me. And I think the reason that drag queens a lot of times have this like sacred mission they're performing, you know, drag queens are people too. And they there's people that are angry and coming from fear and coming from love and the ones that are coming from love, just really exude that what you're talking about, it's like RuPaul as one of them. And I think that's what I'm hoping that our, that my listeners can hear is like, be you, be you know, totally you and that's going to be better for you and it's going to be better for the tribe actually.
Yuval David 30:43
Well, I create a lot of content, especially on my Instagram account and my YouTube account, that is all about be you, be fabulous, be celebrate yourself, celebrate who you are. It makes life so much more beautiful. Life is so Important to celebrate, you are important to celebrate, you are unique, right? We're all unique and special and we're all unicorns and these, whatever, you know, incredible beings, but that uniqueness is also what unifies us, that being you inspires other people to be themselves. And then there's something that resonates there. It just makes life so much better and so much more fun. It's an adventure.
Mike Gerle 31:29
Yeah. And I that's one reason I kind of rail against assimilationist. You know, there's, it seems like from the research I've done, the television I've watched, you know, women's movement has had this, like, you know, do we assimilate or do we fight until we have true equality and same thing happens in the LGBT community. And people of color communities have this thing too, and we have to find a playing field where we all agree on the same rules.
Yuval David 31:58
I hear what you're saying about us. It's it's like how people used to speak about America as being a melting pot. It was never a melting pot.
Mike Gerle 32:08
Yuval David 32:09
I'm not the same as you are, even though both of the LGBTQ community we're
Mike Gerle 32:13
Yuval David 32:14
We're very different part. We're part of a massively diverse community. You also mentioned the woman's movement, even if you look back to when it was called women's lib, or when people speak about being feminists, people being the women's marches.
Mike Gerle 32:31
Yuval David 32:31
Women, that's what a massively diverse community that
Mike Gerle 32:35
Yuval David 32:36
People of all cultures, of all faiths, all denominations, of all races, of all types of sexuality. I mean, it's so diverse. So when you focus on inclusion, including the people who are different than you, but who have the similar characteristic, then you must accept and respect them for having the same rights as you, or deserving the same rights as you deserve. And it goes back to that golden rule, right? Do unto others as you would like to be done to yourself. Yeah, help others the way you would like to be helped, support others the way you would like to be supported. Fight for others the way you would like people to fight for you. And when, I know you're kind of hinting at the LGBTQ movement, which is not just a community, it's a movement because we're a community that our advocates and activists, which I'm one of, them are fighting for our rights, are ad advocating on behalf of our community. But I don't only advocate on behalf of Jewish gay, bi, queer Israeli Americans who are actors and filmmakers and whatnot. I advocate on behalf of the entire LGBTQ community. So as we talked about assimilation, I don't really believe that assimilation is something we can do. I do think that appropriation is something with what we can do. I have always for many years, I've had friends who are drag queens.
Mike Gerle 34:11
Yuval David 34:11
I start to use some of the lingo that I hear drag queens use. Yeah. While they told me that I have great cheekbones and beautiful legs, they should do drag. I still have yet to do drag, hopefully soon, I think it would be really exciting. I used to dance in an African dance company. It was amazing and sometimes people would joke and call me token, right as, as the token Jewish guy or the token white guy, or what have you. And I learned a lot and I appropriated elements of the cultures that I saw that I was that I surrounded myself with, and it completely affected who I am as a person. I think it made me a more cultured person, and a better person and I think that's something that people need to remember, especially when we deal with these large or massively diverse communities, like the LGBTQ,
Mike Gerle 35:02
Yuval David 35:03
LGBTQ people are part of every other community in the world.
Mike Gerle 35:07
Yes! And I think this is all reminded me of, you know, In 2007 I was, I won International Mr. Leather and part of that is you, it's like Miss America for gay fetish guys or Miss Universe. And the speech that the opening line was a quote from Guy Baldwin, who is a very known he's a psychotherapist with an anthropology background and very kinky. And he's written a lot of columns. And what he said was, gentlemen, it is unlikely we'll ever win the war for tolerance until, you're able to accept the diversity amongst our own kind.
Yuval David 35:47
Mike Gerle 35:48
And that really struck me when I read it from a gay white cisgender man in the kinky community and it's true, we do need to respect everybody's diversity. And I think sometimes we try to make us all the same kind of diverse. I think sometimes we have unnecessary arguments, because we can have all that diversity and still get towards equality that we're looking for. We're all looking for the assurance that our diversity will be respected. Like when gay men were starting to get interviews on CNN and stuff like this back in the old in ancient times, like, you know, the late 80s. They always had to, you know, stereotypically white, chiseled, bookend dudes that would talk about how their life is just no different than anybody else's. And you know, they, they they're going to adopt and they're going to have two kids and they're going to live together and their life looks no different than anybody else's. And I didn't identify with them, even though I looked almost exactly like them and I just want to encourage everybody to know that that is a option, that it's more important that we understand each other than we agree with each other. And that understanding leads to respect and that respect leads to us working together and us working together leads to creating change.
Yuval David 37:21
You mentioned the word tolerance. When you're seeking tolerance when you want other people to tolerate you, you must also tolerate others. The people who seek the most tolerance often can become the most intolerant of people who are not like them, or
Mike Gerle 37:40
Yuval David 37:40
agree with them. And that's one of the challenges that we face, within any community that is advocating for more representation, acceptance, respect and tolerance. We have to say, Okay, this is who I am, and I'm going to present myself the way I wish to present myself And I want you to see me, I want you to see me for who I am, I want to be seen. But at the same time, I must see you, not only the way that I see you, but I must also see you the way you want to be seen. And that's a constant learning lesson, we started this chat, speaking about identity, what are the elements of your identity that are the most important to you, and how that can change?
Mike Gerle 38:28
Yeah, and I'll tell you that as a, that role of elder that I'm talking about, which is, you know, blessing the the attributes that help the tribe, we can't see that attributes if the members of the tribe aren't being exactly who they are, authentically who they are, different from one another, because some people are going to be great at planning and logistics and some people are going to be great at being on camera and talking to people, and some people are going to be great at protesting in the streets and causing disruption just on and on and on. And not everybody is going to be good at everything. And we need all that diversity. We learned that through the AIDS crisis, that we need to be both on the streets and at the board table, making decisions. What I'm trying to say is this is actually a broader, broadening of our self identity, rather than a limiting of our diversity.
Yuval David 39:25
Absolutely, yeah. And, and you mentioned things that prove how we are still subject to the socialization process.
Mike Gerle 39:35
Yuval David 39:36
And how when you saw these men on TV, gay white men, you know, broad shouldered men, yeah. And you look like them, but you didn't feel like they represented you or that you were exactly like them, even within the gay community. Even within that and definitely within the LGBTQ community. There was still a socialization process where we were affected by what was considered heteronormative. So it was easier in the 80s and 90s and even into the 2000s. It was easier for cisgendered men who acted like straight men, straight acting, right there was this term, straight acting guys were seen as so much sexier, according to the way that many people were socialized within a heteronormative society, and that spilled into the LGBTQ community, but the people who weren't like that had to teach the heteronormative people, the straight acting people, that there are other things that were okay and attractive as well. We had the drag queens for so long and yes, they were fabulous and wonderful and great and we would, we would laugh with them and sometimes add them and they would be these clowns sometimes, but while they were being these clowns they were also being leaders saying I love to be, I am fabulous. I am she, I am her, they were using these pronouns and they got into the mainstream to open up the doors for the girly men. They have set up the doors for the men who would allow themselves to be more feminine and then to question well what is masculine and what is feminine? is being a tough jock football player, wrestler, fireman, masculine and being a ballet dancer who wears tights and constructs his legs in all different ways and quote Shakespeare and no classical music. Is that feminine? No, that's also masculine. And then what is feminine? Is the bull dyke who drives a Subaru and goes to Home Depot, like all those jokes we used to hear in the 90s. Is that not feminine? It is feminine, and why not feminine? I am feminine, am I not masculine? I am masculine. It's It started to really question this. And then because we were working with all of that, and exposing all of this exploration of what it actually means to be a person connected to a gender identity and a sexuality, we opened up the doors, finally, for the trans community, to say, these are people who take great measures to be their truest selves. It's a challenging process to be trans, it requires a lot of effort to be who they are, and now our trans community have become leaders because ultimately, all of us are in transition. A healthy human being is in transition is in transition to become and express their truest selves to listen to who they are to say, this is who I am, this is how I want to be seen, this is how I want you to see me, that's a transition. So now, our training community have become leaders within this LGBTQ community, within the LGBTQ movement, and we need to support them because they were under supported by our own community for so long.
Mike Gerle 43:12
Yeah. And it's more people on our team, you know, and the more that they are authentic to themselves, the stronger the stronger members of the team and the tribe that that they will be, or that all of us can be individually. So yeah, I do see all that. And it's...
Yuval David 43:32
It's something that I actually, the concepts of representation and acceptance and inclusion are things that I deal with in my life as an advocate and in my efforts, but it's also so important for me to bring that into my creativity, into my artistic and creative process. I used to be the actor who said, Oh my god, I speak all these languages. I can do virtually any accent that a human being can do. I can be everybody, I can play everybody. And then I started to say, Well, this is exactly what I bring to the table, this is who I am, this is how I am seen and this is how I wish to be seen. And these are the specific types of ways that I can represent my communities. And then to expand upon it, based on this toolkit that I had of the accents, the language, the sports background, the physical background, you know, whatever it is that oh on my resume, the other skills. And then as a host, especially when I would turn the camera on others. It was very important for me to put the camera on this diverse spectrum of our population of our society, of our community, of our communities, and include all of these different people, especially those who are of those marginalized communities, especially those who might not always have the spotlight on them, not only based on which community they're part of, and their race, gender, sexuality, religion, ethnicity, whatever it might be, I would try to focus on those people and in my filmmaking as as a content creator, it's the same thing. I love having a diverse crew, because that means that they can bring so much more, and the same thing with my cast. When I cast for my project, I love exploring things that are different than what most people would go to. I enjoy casting actors and talent. Who might be different. Why can't the boss be played by a woman or a trans woman? Why can't the boxer be played by the skinny dude or the skinny girl or the or whatever. And it goes back to my acting career. There are times that I have been able to portray my character as a gay, bi or queer man when he was when sexuality wasn't written in the script. And I was like, Oh, well, here's an opportunity for me to represent this LGBTQ community in a way to normalize who we are, we can all be any type of in any type of position, in any type of role, in any type of relationship. And that's something we all can do and need to do. No matter what we do in our lives. How can we focus on inclusion, tolerance, respect, and representation? That I think is where not assimilation, but appropriation happens, because we're able to be exposed to so many more types of people and so many more cultures and say, that is beautiful, that type of music is beautiful, that type of dancing is beautiful, the literature, the poetry, the way that politicians spoke, the way that journalists wrote, the way the people dress, the whatever the hairstyles, the lipstick, the all of those.
Mike Gerle 47:04
Yuval David 47:04
Like, that is gorgeous, and to start to do it, to share in what this human existence is and to learn from each other.
Mike Gerle 47:13
Yeah, yeah. Don Kilhefner is a very old gay man. 82 years old. He was part of the gay liberation movement. He started the gay lesbian center here. He was part of forming Radical Faeries and all that stuff, all kinds of things. I love him. He doesn't like the word homophobia, he calls it, hetero supremacy. And once I got past, like the impact of that supremacy being in that word, but it did help me see it. I like to instead of saying hetero supremacy refer to the dominant culture. And a lot of times I will modulate my own behavior to fit into the dominant culture and then I try to catch myself when I'm doing that. What I hear you talking about is you're just actively constantly not modulating for the dominant culture, but seeking the true aspects of all the diversity in the rainbow. And I think that's fantastic.
Yuval David 48:14
Well, as I explore myself, and as I focus on allowing other people to explore themselves, I'm affected by what they do by their process, and it informs my own, and it colors my own and it improves my own. And then we get to share
Mike Gerle 48:32
Enlightened self interest.
Yuval David 48:34
And as a content creator, as an artist, right as an actor, host, filmmaker, director, producer, all of this stuff, all within that I can encapsulate all of that by saying artist, I get to create based on my experiences, and hope that the films that I create or the acting roles that I pray that it resonates for people, not only who are like this character, move exploring who've experienced something like the same narrative, or like the characters that I present. But they can resonate with these stories and characters, even if they're different than them, and to say, Oh, that's kind of similar to something else. And that's how my art becomes a tool for advocacy, a tool for representation. And today, I got five different messages that I was reading before we got on our chat from people in different parts of the world, completely different by I mean, there were two people from India, there was somebody from Seattle, there was a woman in Brazil, and they were telling me how they love my content and they watch my YouTube posts and the things I put up there and how they respond to them and it gives them hope. And I was like, I'm giving these people hope like, they just gave me hope they made me feel seen. They made me feel respected and appreciated saying: Yuval, what you're doing speaks to us.
Mike Gerle 50:05
Yuval David 50:07
That was my point. Like, that's what I wanted to do. I mean
Mike Gerle 50:10
Yuval David 50:10
What a success. I mean, it just makes me feel so empowered and excited. And I think when people tap into all of these concepts we're talking about and explore them and make it right for themselves. However, whenever right is for them to then they become better people, we become better people.
Mike Gerle 50:30
Well, I think when people are authentic, you can really tap into the human thing, that whatever, we all have emotions and dreams and stuff. And the stories are different, but the impetus is the same. And I've already experienced some of that, I'm just shocked. Like about who is listening to this podcast. I've had straight guys and straight women, especially saying, Oh, I totally relate to this and blah, blah, blah, blah. And I'm like, I'm, you know, so the human experience is underlying all of that. And people, I think, can actually get to see through the diversity, or the diversity helps them, like when we like when we learn another language. I've studied both Spanish and German, and I was brought up with English. And it always enlightened my English. When I said, Oh, that's how you express, like love, take you out of it, I mean, actually, like, I want you, not the actual word I love you, and just little nuances like that. And I think the same thing with our diversity conversation is the same way people can see through the other person, they can see their humanity through that. I want to just ask you what your favorite words are. Because you said you had favorite words, I know it won't change unless you want to say anything more on this idea of diversity. I think we could talk about this forever. I do. But I do want to get into your favorite words.
Yuval David 52:00
My favorite words, my favorite words are Love, Vulnerability, and Adventure and Manipulation.
Mike Gerle 52:11
Why? Why are those favorite words? And why did you come up with a list?
Yuval David 52:14
I don't know. I used to say it. That's how I chose to answer your question. Yes, my favorite words, but I decided to give you a list.
Mike Gerle 52:21
Okay. Do you know what out of all those words which is your, which one impacts you the most?
Yuval David 52:29
They're all there. They're all. They're all answer that it's an equal pie chart and process. Yeah, I mean, I have a lifelong mantra which I came up with when I was a teenager. I live the life of the loving adventure, where love is not just an emotion, it's a state of being, and everything is an adventure.
Mike Gerle 52:50
That's a radical thought, Yuval.
Yuval David 52:53
It made sense to me when I was a teenager and it makes sense to me to this day, so to respond with love. To be love, to be loving, to be lovable, to see the world in life through the lens of love, to respond with love. So even in the most challenging situations, and I've gone through a lot of very difficult things in life, and what you do with love, then it makes it easier for me and for other people, because I always want to help other people. The adventure part of it is, everything's an adventure. I make plans. I'm very ambitious. I have goals, many of which I'm able to achieve, some of which I'm not able to achieve. Or maybe I could say many of which I'm not able to achieve, but that process of the adventure might guide me in a different direction, right? It's how we say it's not the destination. It's the journey. It's the same thing. That's the adventure. It's like being an athlete or being an actor. on set. I can plan all of these things I can train and prepare and the memory and, and rehearse and practice and you know, whether it's as an athlete or an actor, and then once I'm in the moment, I must be in the moment, I must be able to just have all that stuff that I've done, and know that that's behind me, and I'm now able to utilize that vocabulary that training those rehearsals and be in the moment. That's the adventure. And it's the process that's the most exciting.
Mike Gerle 54:24
So you're saying when you're preparing, you are there in the journey. And then when you're on stage, you're there again, in that journey. Yes. And all of it's the journey. Mm hmm.
Yuval David 54:35
And what is the destination I don't eat. The journey is the destination, right? That's the what is the final destination? I don't want to have a final destination.
Mike Gerle 54:46
I can see why you got along with all your yoga friends out here in LA. These are like ancient concepts. You know?
Yuval David 54:53
I know I need to start I had this one brilliant yoga instructor and she would use these sessions. productions and they were amazing expressions and I think she also was just this amazing person and had this gorgeous accent that it's like no matter what she said, it just sounded amazing to me because yeah, you I just; first of all, I'm just addicted to accents anybody who has I, ever since I was a kid, I would just light up and really focus. So yeah, she was one of my favorite LA yoga instructors. And she was actually say, that same expression that I don't know what language it originated in a Sanskrit, Sanskrit but I don't know we we use it. And I've heard it used a lot in my life in America that the journey is the destination. You're so right.
Mike Gerle 55:44
I know it does sound everything sounds better with an accent for everybody. I loved it the first time I went to London and I said, "Yeah, sure. Let's go" to some guy I just met and all of a sudden I was exotic because I guess "Yeah, sure" was like a real American.
Yuval David 56:00
Or it's like my, my British friends when they're in the United States, they laugh because everybody thinks they're brilliant just because they talk like this. Sort of, they could really say anything, even if it's total bollocks and just people will totally respond to whatever they're saying as being absolutely stunningly brilliant. And it's not even, it might not even be brilliant.
Mike Gerle 56:23
Yeah, I just started paying attention to you for the first time in this...
Yuval David 56:26
Oh, thanks. Wonderful, it's great. I'll remember that, I'll use more accents.
Mike Gerle 56:33
Awesome. So one question I like to ask all of my LGBTQ guests is do you think that we have any special gifts because of our circumstance, because of our diversity, that maybe the dominant culture doesn't need to face some of the things that we go through? Do you think that we have any special gifts that we developed because of that?
Yuval David 56:56
Absolutely. Being other, being treated as the other and still being resilient gives us more power, when you recognize that you are of a minority of a marginalized community of a community that is responded to through xenophobia, or through any other type of othering, but you still continue on your path on your process because of and in spite of those things. That is an empowering gift that is empowerment saying, okay, you see me like this. This is how I want you to see me, I'm going to challenge you to see me how I want to be seen already that's a powerful response.
Mike Gerle 57:41
Yuval David 57:41
That has, you've become permeable to how you see people see you and treat you but you still continue forward. That's how our community became a movement, that gift of the hardships that we faced, or actually the hardships that we faced gave us a gift of more focus, of more of a heightened vocabulary, of more understanding, of what our process needs to be, we're more informed. That's a gift.
Mike Gerle 58:12
It is a gift, and that resilience is huge, especially now. I mean, it is April 30th 2020. We're in the middle, still, of the pandemic and I have a very limited number of people I'm talking to right now. So you know, I don't know if we're experienced anymore resilience or not. But I do know in the rest of my life that I can I experienced challenge I think better than my my like straight sibling, or other people.
Yuval David 58:44
like that. I think when you when you experience challenges and you have overcome them, or lived through them, you have more ability to to face new challenges, to deal with new challenges because you have that experience. That's being an athlete of life, they experienced athlete can handle more situations, because they have all that experience, that is completely being an athlete.
Mike Gerle 59:10
Yeah. And I think that's a lot of thing that, especially men in my neighborhood, we go to the gym and we work out and you can see those physical manifestations of that, but it also happens with our spirit and with our emotions, when we are forced to look at them, to look at ourselves on a deeper level, especially when we're not mirrored in society when we don't see ourselves out there and stuff and that forced introspection can lead, doesn't always lead to, but can lead to that a more solid, resilient person, amongst other things. Like, I think creativity is something we're forced into flexing that muscle as well. And I don't think that gay people are humanly capable of more creativity. I just think that we've been forced into using it more, and so we need to be more creative.
Yuval David 1:00:03
Yeah, maybe not forced into it, but it's been expected of us.
Mike Gerle 1:00:07
Yuval David 1:00:09
Yeah, because gaming in the arts, the LGBTQ community was able to flourish, the arts community tended to be a more accepting community now tended, right? I'm stressing that word because not always. And in the portrayal of gay men in what was mainstream media and films, the gay guy was the fabulous funny guy. Straight women wanted to have their gay best friend, or their gay husband, straight woman wanted to go to the gay bars and have fun and be free. So we were awarded by the majority the ability to express ourselves differently, and eventually it took so long for elements that we expressed to become normalized within the straight community. For men to be able to wear tighter clothes and tighter jeans and still be completely straight, and not to be called a fag. For women to like to drive trucks and motorcycles and play sports, and when at the Olympics and not be called a dyke for all of these things, and for them to still be straight. I mean, that's something that our LGBTQ movement has affected the straight community, the heterosexual community. Yeah, well, heteronormative has appropriated elements of our identity.
Mike Gerle 1:01:43
Yeah, to the degree I just really don't know if I my gaydar can't be judged. I kind of have to meet somebody and talk to them almost every time. In LA. It's been appropriated so much from us, from all the teaching that we've done, our modeling. I do think that we model what You're talking about is modeling alternate ways of being for that. Let's, um, I'd like to ask you just one last question to wrap this out. And that is what advice would you have for your 16 year old self? I know that you come from a very interesting youth background, but if that informs that answer that, feel free to elaborate on that, but what advice would you have for your younger self, your by queer gaze self?
Yuval David 1:02:29
What advice would I have? Is buy Apple stock. Investing in in tech stocks, buy some real estate, keep expressing yourself. Know that it's okay. Listen to your gut. If you're around people who make you uncomfortable, get out of there. Don't be with those people. They're not worth it, they will waste your time and waste your life. You don't have to Continue to try to help those who don't want to help themselves, who don't want your type of help.
Mike Gerle 1:03:07
I think that's great, though, that's a really awesome way to, to leave this and so you've all I really want to thank you for coming on here and I appreciate you being so open and being so loving and being so ambitious and creating change with the art you do the advocacy you do, by facilitating conversations. It's all really important work that I tangentially feeds my world and so thank you from me, on a personal level and on a bigger level.
Yuval David 1:03:42
Thank you. The feeling is mutual, what you do the way you share concepts and stories and share yourself to make other people feel okay. is a beautiful thing, and it's very much needed. Yeah, I'm continuing on this process and I'd be glad to have you check out and follow, subscribe to my YouTube channel, especially now that all these film festivals have been canceled or postponed until further notice. So I've been putting more of my content out there onto.
Mike Gerle 1:04:14
And I'll take just a moment. I just want everybody to know that all of that will be in the show notes. There's gonna be links, so please...
Yuval David 1:04:20
Yes! Thank you.
Mike Gerle 1:04:21
If you haven't seen that part of the podcast ours, we put a lot of time into that. So there'll be a lot of links under Yuval David. Because you are putting a lot out there.
Yuval David 1:04:33
I'm trying, you know, as long as it's received and it affects people and I'm affected by people. It's a cyclical thing. Thank you so much, Mike, you are marvelous.
Mike Gerle 1:04:41
Thank you, you too Yuval.
And that, brothers, was Yuval David. A man living the life of a loving adventurer. I'll be taking away his ideas on identity, self care, tolerating others and listening to your gut. I hope you found it. some useful information and inspiration as well. Until next time, this is Mike Gerle and the GerleMen podcast.
Thanks for listening to the show my friend. Now stay connected by subscribing to GerleMen podcast and sharing with your friends on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, or anywhere else podcasts can be found. Visit the web page at gerlemen.com. Sign up for the newsletter and find more details about each episode. Let's make this a conversation because I'd really like to hear from you. Join us on Facebook at GerleMen, submit your questions, suggest topics or just chat with your brothers. Want to add your own two cents? Use the voice memo feature on your smartphone. Ask a question or say anything. We just might play it on the podcast. Email the file to [email protected] Until next time.