and his Aunt Lo on Easter Sunday 1960 in Birmingham, Alabama.
Who would have ever dreamed
they'd write us a play? I took over the role of "Peanut,"
an alcoholic, homosexual, former Southern Baptist for six performances
of Del Shores' SOUTHERN BAPTIST SISSIES at The Zephyr Theater in
Hollywood in June 2001. I had participated in the first reading
of Mr. Shores' play about growing up gay in the Baptist Church.
After seeing the remarkable Leslie Jordon in the role when the play
opened in September 2000, I was apprehensive about following his
award winning performance. It was a lot of work for only six performances
and I knew this rehearsal period would dredge up some old ghosts
from my childhood in Alabama.
I spent the 1950's at Westside Baptist Church in Bessemer, Alabama
and I was one of the obvious sissies in the congregation. I remember
skipping through the hallways of the church at age six wearing an
available choir robe and headscarf pretending I was Loretta Young.
When my horrified Uncle Frank discovered me he must have had an
"I knew this was coming" moment. I was always terrifyingly
dramatic and my childhood was filled with Church Drama -- not limited
to my appearances in every biblical pageant produced. Although,
my desired roles of Delilah and Jezebel always went to less talented
amateurs! Admittedly, I did get some of the ideas of the Southern
Baptists all balled up. I was told that Jesus loved me in a most
miraculous way, and with this in mind I often called upon him to
level the playing field for me as a small child. I was overheard
(at four years of age) asking Jesus to send a storm to blow away
my cousin Dale who had failed to please me in some way. In my humble
defense I will say that it was also overheard that I specifically
told Jesus to not "let it hurt too much."