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Southern Baptist Sissies

A filmed version of the play of Southern Baptist Sissies by Del Shores. It is the story of how growing up gay in the church affects four very different boys.

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Southern Baptist Sissies

A Film of the Play by Del Shores

"How do you stop the HATE that is spewed in the name of the Lord?"

starring Leslie Jordan, Dale Dickey, Ann Walker, Newell Alexander, Rosemary Alexander, Bobbie Eakes, Joe Patrick Ward, Emerson Collins, Matthew Scott Montgomery, Luke Stratte-McClure and Willam Belli 

Southern Baptist Sissies is a play written by Del Shores, the creator of Sordid Lives.  It is the story of four gay boys who grew up in the Southern Baptist church and the different journey each one takes in coming to terms with their own homosexuality versus what they were taught by the church.  Mark becomes a writer, questioning everything.  Benny embraces who he is and becomes a drag queen entertainer.  T.J. attempts to live as the church tells him to and tries to be straight.  Andrew, the most troubled sissy of all, believes the message that there is something truly wrong with who he is and he takes his own life.

The play received rave reviews in Los Angeles during its original run in 2000 and became the most awarded play of the year, winning the GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding LA Theater Production, as well as multiple LA Weekly Theater Awards, Los Angeles Critics' Awards, Ovation Awards, Backstage West Garland Awards and Robby Awards.

What are we doing?

We are going to shoot the play live for film!

The original play had such an enormous response and the audience interaction was a huge part of the experience.  We are going to shoot four live performances with three cameras, with full houses, and then shoot for additional days for close-ups and additional coverage.  A ten-day shoot, to allow the final result to be a beautiful version of a live evening of theatre that looks as though it was shot with fifteen cameras in one performance.  An ultra-low budget film, with high quality technical values from experienced theatre and film artists.

Why Southern Baptist Sissies? And why now?

We believe it is imperative to remember that the church and religious-based organizations continue to do damage to innocent children with their hostile opposition to gay civil rights.

In our society today, we are seeing greater acceptance of the LGBT community and the advancement of civil rights is actively moving forward.  Unfortunately, this same advancement has led to louder and more vitriolic opposition from conservative groups, churches and faith-based organizations.  So, while many LGBTQ and questioning youths are being greeted with love and acceptance and finding an open path to embracing themselves, religious-based bigotry is causing gay kids growing up in conservative families and churches to hear harsher rhetoric about the "gay agenda" or the "gay lifestyle" than ever before.  This active voice of hate being spewed by churches and religious organizations makes the journey for kids being raised in that environment even more challenging.  Some of these kids grow up and make it out, some continue to struggle with guilt for a lifetime, and some take their own lives because the pain is too much.

Even one lost gay child is one too many.

The original play touched so many lives for its exposure of the self-hatred and shame and rejection that the church causes for gay and questioning youths.  The greatest response from audience members was also the sense of healing it created for those who grew up that way, or had friends or family that grew up that way.

The message of Sissies is one of hope and healing for those who grew up in the church. For wider audiences it is an unflinching portrayal of the kind of damage the church continues to do even more strongly today.  Even worse than opposing equal rights legislation is the personal damage done to children who hear the message that they are "less than" for being gay.

Who are we?

Del Shores is updating the original script and will direct the film.  The film will star a number of the award-winning members of the original play cast.  Leslie Jordan (Emmy-winner for Will & Grace) and Dale Dickey (True Blood, Spirit Award winner for Winter's Bone) will reprise their roles as the tragically comedic barflies.  From the original cast, Ann Walker (Sordid Lives) will play Benny's Grandmother, Rosemary Alexander (Sordid Lives) will play Andrew's Mother, Newell Alexander (August: Osage County, Sordid Lives) will play the Preacher and Joe Patrick Ward, who will compose the Sissies score (Blues For Willadean) will also play Houston/Bro. Chaffey.  Bobbie Eakes (All My Children, The Bold and the Beautiful) will play Mark's Mother.  The four Sissies are Emerson Collins (Sordid Lives: The Series) as the narrator and writer Mark, Matthew Scott Montgomery (Disney's So Random, Yellow) as the sensitive Andrew, Luke Stratte-McClure (Yellow) as T.J. who decides to be straight, and Willam Belli (RuPaul's Drag Race, Nip/Tuck) as Benny the drag queen.  Nickolas Rossi will be the Director of Photography.  Beard Collins Shores Productions will produce the film with Executive Producer Louise H. Beard.

Why IndieGogo? Where does the money go?

To take the film from pre-production through the shoot and to post-production we need $200,000.  

If we blow this first goal out of the water and reach the full $200,000, we will be shooting the film in January!

This first goal is to cover pre-production costs and secure the theater and designers to be able to begin doing their work.  This budget is very streamlined and extremely low for a film, and it's the creativity of this approach that allows it to be possible.  Anything we raise over this goal will go to releasing the film and marketing and promotion.  We have set a reasonable first goal to begin pre-production on the film.  We want to complete this project and get it out there as quickly as possible.

Over the years since Sissies premiered as a play, it has proven to be the most impactful of Del's work.  Fans have asked continuously when the play would be a film, when the play would happen again, and tell us what city, theatre or community desperately needed to see this piece.  The reality is, funding a film is hard.  Funding a gay-themed film is even harder.  We believe that shooting the play is a cost-effective way to share this story with an incredible cast and make the play look beautiful.

All of the artists, designers, crew members and cast involved will be working for extremely little money on a film scale, but we do want to pay them for bringing their talents to this project, and ensure the theatre, the cameras and every aspect of the production is covered in order to do it right.

We decided to use this format for fundraising to give the opportunity to so many fans who have asked for this project and told us how important this project is to help us make it happen.

Why should you help us?

Del Shores' body of work has had an enormous impact.  Sordid Lives and the TV prequel Sordid Lives: The Series helped many southern gay men and women come out to their families through the comedy and humor of the film.  He was an executive producer on Queer As Folk.  His most recent film, Blues For Willadean, starring Beth Grant, Octavia Spencer, Dale Dickey, David Steen and Debby Holiday is beginning its limited theatrical release in theaters now shining a light on the difficult subject of domestic abuse.  Del grow up the son of a Southern Baptist preacher and knows the pain, shame and guilt the church causes first-hand from his own coming out journey.  Del has a strong and long-standing commitment to the gay community, gay issues and LGBT rights.

Simply put, as long as there is one gay kid sitting in a church somewhere who hears the message that being gay is wrong, and believes it, this story is important.

By helping us tell this story YOU are helping us change lives, advocate for change in churches, create healing for old wounds and save lives.

One of the greatest testimonies to the power of this piece came from a young man who approached Del after a performance.  The young man explained that he had seen it before, and after seeing the play, and seeing his own journey played out on the stage, he decided not to kill himself.  Others have shared similar experiences.  It is this kind of impact that is the reason we are telling this story again now.

HOW YOU CAN HELP

1) DONATE!

$10 instead of coffee, or $1000 for special thanks, or $25,000 for an Executive Producer title and a hometown screening. EVERY. SINGLE. DONATION. IS IMPORTANT!

2) SHARE THE MESSAGE!

If you believe, as we do, that this story is important, please share the video, the IndieGogo link, our YouTube channel across your social media network.  If you cannot donate, sharing our story with others who may be able to is JUST AS IMPORTANT!

3) PARTICIPATE! Tell us YOUR story!

If you have a story of seeing Southern Baptist Sissies or you were involved with it, or you grew up in the church, or the south, or you know someone who did, make a video!  We are starting an "I'm a Recovering Southern Baptist Sissy" YouTube campaign.  Make your own video, on your phone, webcam or camcorder. Tell your own story of growing up in the church, your own personal triumph and victory.  You can send it to us at SouthernBaptistSissies@gmail.com or upload it to YouTube. Begin or end it with your name and “I’m a Recovering Southern Baptist Sissy” and then tell the world why! We will add it to the Sissies YouTube channel and your story can help us continue to tell this story!

Important links:
Southern Baptist Sissies Facebook: www.facebook.com/SouthernBaptistSissies

Southern Baptist Sissies YouTube Channel: www.youtube.com/user/SBSissies

Follow us on twitter: @SBSisses

"Sometimes I close my eyes and I create a perfect world. A world of acceptance and understanding and love. But I always wake up.  But now… with HOPE!"

A portion of the profits from the release of this film will be donated to help at risk and questioning LGBTQ youths.

Team on This Campaign: