Southern Baptist Sissies (2014) – By Misty Layne

Southern Baptist Sissies is a unique hybrid of stage and film funded through an enormously successful crowd-sourcing campaign with Indiegogo. Filmed in ten days in front of four live theatre audiences and completed with a film shoot on the theatrical stage, Southern Baptist Sissies tells the hysterical and heart-wrenching story of four boys growing up gay in the Southern Baptist church and their individual struggles to reconcile their sexuality with the anti-gay teachings of the church.

I was raised Southern Baptist, though I left the church long ago, and there are some things you just understand if you’re Southern Baptist that other people may not – like having a red AND white hymnal or the public announcement of accepting Jesus into your heart. And being raised Southern Baptist, I can say with all honesty, that Southern Baptist Sissies hit the Southern Baptist way of church dead on. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen such an accurate portrayal of the church either on stage or in film before and the play brought back so many memories. Unfortunately, this film is also dead on with the message the church preaches that you can’t be gay and have God love you. But that’s also what makes this film/stage play so brilliant and ultimately heartwarming. It’s honest and it’s raw and it’s in your face with no holds barred.

Starring the always amazing Leslie Jordan (love him!!), Dale Dickey, Rosemary Alexander, Ann Walker, Newell Alexander, Joe Patrick, Emerson Collins, Matthew Scott Montgomery, Luke Stratte-McClure and William Belli, I don’t think I can recommend this piece of work enough. Featuring a drag queen, two alcoholics, four gay boys growing up under the watchful eye of God and church and a storyline that tugs at the heartstrings AND makes you think, everything about this film/stage play works. The fact that they filmed it live makes the acting even more brilliant (and it was – everyone in this was phenomenal and breathtaking) and lends the film an intriguing air that a simple film adaptation wouldn’t have had.

There’s absolutely no bad here (unless you just don’t like stage plays). Our narrator, Mark, leads us on a journey from church to seedy bars, from adolescent exploration of sexuality to adulthood, and the pieces fall into place seamlessly. I was never bored through the 2 hour and 18 minute run time – I watched eagerly waiting to see what would come next. At times raunchy and at times devastating, this show gives you an inside view of what it’s like to be gay within a church and does so without reservations. Southern Baptist Sissies is one of the most brilliant pieces of theatre/film I’ve seen in awhile.

If you’d like to learn more about Southern Baptist Sissies (and I highly recommend you do!) visit their Facebook page or IMDB.