Del Shores Talks 'Southern Baptist Sissies' and More 'Sordid Lives'
Shores was himself the son of a Southern Baptist preacher. He's openly gay and knows first-hand the damage religion can do to a person. Therefore, he wanted to use this play to express that and help others get through that kind of damage.
Shores even relates a story of a man he met in a parking lot after one of his shows who was crying. Shores hugged the man and comforted him, as the man revealed that he was ex-communicated and abandoned by family because he was gay. The man even attempted suicide, but seeing Shores' play helped to bring the crying man back.
Emerson Collins, the star and one of the producers, suggested that Shores just film the play and not adapt it. They crowd-funded nearly $200,000 and did just that.
Breaking Glass Pictures picked Southern Baptist Sissies up after it premiered at Outfest 2013. The filmed-play ran in 28 festivals. It won 15 prizes, including 9 audience awards. Breaking Glass releases it on DVD as of today, November 11, 2014.
The play explores four, fragile, adolescent homosexual boys dealing with Christian dogma that opposes or outright hates homosexuality. The circumstance for each boy is different and each boy ends up at a different place at the end. Each in a way represents aspects of Shores' life and experiences.
Shores said he wrote what he knew, so each young male, which he affectionately refers to as a "sissy," represents a part of his own journey. Shores repeated though that as a writer he had to "scratch deeper." He loves writing and storytelling and had to give these young men, or sissies, journeys of their own.
If you watch the play, you'll see that there are a lot of monologues, mostly of the young men talking directly to the audience relating their thoughts, feelings and observations. Shores admits there are plenty of monologues that didn't make it into the play but Shores wrote them in order to fully understand his characters.
Shores started as an actor, coming from Texas. He said his writing and directing is an extension of that, of his desire to tell stories. His mom was a drama teacher who taught him how to argue.
He's quite verbose without much prompting. He admitted to being mouthy, but he compared himself as being more ACT-UP rather than HRC. Both ACT-UP and HRC are non-profit organizations that advocate for gay rights, but, whereas HRC is more passive or tame in its tactics, ACT-UP is more aggressive. It stages protests and isn't afraid to jump in people's faces.
Given his play is about religion, I asked Shores about the state of his own. He said he's like Carrie Fisher. He's "agnostic with a lot of hope." He said he like most people really don't know the truth about God or Heaven. He said all he can do is have faith in humanity, celebrate it and try to be a good person himself.
Favorites from Sordid Lives, Leslie Jordan and Dale Dickey return for Southern Baptist Sissies. Both provide a lot of comedy to help swallow all the heavy religious issues. Shores has worked with Jordan since 1985 and he's worked with Dickey for 17 years. He has such a good relationship with them and still such a love for Sordid Lives that he hopes to raise money for A Very Sordid Wedding, a sequel and final chapter.
For now, Southern Baptist Sissies is available on DVD and VOD via Amazon and iTunes.