Pop recording artist and philanthropist Sir Ivan was in Miami Beach last week to support the anti-bullying programs of Safe Schools South Florida. He was joined by his mother, Naomi Wilzig, owner of the World Erotic Art Museum, who also presented a check for $10,000 to the organization.
Sir Ivan, best known for his pop-dance remakes of 1960s and ‘70s hits (“Imagine,” “San Francisco,” “Live for Today”), started his recording career relatively late in life in 2001 at the age of 45 and, following the murders Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, founded The Peaceman Foundation, named for his pseudonym, Peaceman, four years later as a means to combat hatred, violence and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
In conjunction with the release of his latest track, “Kiss All the Bullies Goodbye,” he pledged $100,000 to 10 organizations including The It Gets Better Project, PFLAG, and the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN), in addition to $100,000 already donated to The Trevor Project in 2012.
“As the son of a Holocaust survivor, I’ve always been an activist for people who have been persecuted,” explained Sir Ivan. “I was brought up with a heightened awareness of the harm that being perceived as different can cause.”
Sir Ivan’s mother is very well known in the Miami-Dade LGBT community and has long been an advocate for equality. In a phone interview, Sir Ivan recalled the demands of the Miami City Council that LGBT art not be included in her new erotic art museum.
“She told them to go to hell. That’s just the way she is,” he said proudly.
The Wilzigs’ contribution will be used by Safe Schools South Florida to continue training for educators, LGBTQ youth panels to allow students to share their moving stories and fund Gay/Straight Alliance clubs throughout the region, reaching more than 15,000 teachers and 1.5 million students.
A documentary, “Not Safe to be Me,” about the organization’s 23 year history and its co-founder, Robert Loupo, will be screened at the Classic Gateway Cinema in Fort Lauderdale at 4 p.m. on April 19, and again on April 26 as part of the Miami Gay and Lesbian Film Festival.
“Through my music, I want to demonstrate the importance of acceptance and understanding. Young people, especially LGBT youth, often lack a support system and are more likely to be harassed and bullied, and I, for one, will not stand for it. I hope people will unite with me against this injustice. Anti-bullying organizations provide critical support services to LGBT youth to help prevent suicide and empower young people to be proud of who they are, and I’m determined to support them in doing this,” said Sir Ivan.
Also present at the presentation was former Marine Mark Frey, chair of the Safe Schools board of directors, who accepted the check and spoke about how the organization helped his gay son, Jonathan.
Wilzig will continue to donate the proceeds from the new single to anti-bullying organizations.
To learn more, go to SirIvan.com/Kiss-All-The-Bullies-Goodbye and SafeSchoolsSouthFlorida.org.