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Gay southern
comfort from Delta Burke

Gay southern
comfort from Delta Burke


The former Designing Woman who currently stars in Southern Baptist Sissies playing in Los Angeles shows that she is no sissy when it comes to standing up for equality.

Delta Burke is best known for playing Suzanne Sugarbaker on Designing Women. Burke's character was strong, southern, and sassy, so that gays love her should come as no surprise. Happily, as it turns out Burke loves the gays right back. Burke can now be seen in Del Shores's play, Southern Baptist Sissies. In her current role Burke plays three different mothers who each deal with having a gay son. After two sold-out shows in Palm Springs, Burke returns to L.A. on July 11, 2006 for five more performances. After that the show will go on a national tour. The Human Rights Campaign recently awarded Burke the prestigious Equality Award for the work she has done in promoting the ideals of acceptance and understanding. Her acceptance speech, both hilarious and moving, would have made Suzanne Sugarbaker proud.

Thank you so much for this. I have to admit, this was not something I ever expected. I'm truly humbled. I mean, God knows I'm good with the gays -- I mean, come on, beauty pageants, Suzanne Sugarbaker, Sordid Lives. Heck, the play I just did in Los Angeles was called Southern Baptist Sissies, for cryin' out loud. Yeah, me and the gays--we're good, we're tight. My hair, my wardrobe, my makeup--always much, much better because of the gays. OK, let's just call it: If it weren't for homosexuals, I wouldn't look this good and my career would basically be nonexistent. So from the bottom of my heart, I thank you all.

Now, I don't want you to think that I'm just a taker. I have given back too. I guess my giving to the gay community started many years ago when I was a naive young ingenue studying acting at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts. I was a missionary of sorts to many a gay man. By then I was already a gay magnet--for some reason they were just drawn to me. And over and over I'd live out the same scenario. Some extremely handsome guy would confess to me that he was all confused about his sexuality, and for some reason he thought I was the one who could turn him--you know, help him figure it all out. Well, I helped him figure it out all right. One night with me, baby, they no longer had any doubts. They knew. They were 100% positive that they were gay. I don't know exactly what that says about me, but I decided to look on the positive side, knowing that I helped many a gay man come to terms with his homosexuality.

You know, I just realized I probably haven't done enough for the lesbians. I'll have to get right on that. Although, my sister Jennifer is lesbian, and I once bought her and her girlfriend a trip on Olivia Cruises at an auction at some gay event. That's gotta count, right? But you know, when we found out Jennifer was gay, I have to tell you that in our home it really didn't matter. There was never any question about accepting her. She was Jennifer, my sister who hated dresses whom we loved very much. I just don't understand these people who have such issues with it.

As I mentioned earlier, I recently did a play in Los Angeles written by Del Shores who also wrote and directed me in Sordid Lives. I played three different mothers, all of whom had their own issues with their boys being gay. Like a lot of Del's work, the play is very funny, then it turns on you.

Throughout the play, Mark, the hero, keeps closing his eyes, saying, "Sometimes I close my eyes and create a perfect world, a world of acceptance, understanding, and love." At the end of the play, Mark stops a hellfire-and-brimstone sermon being preached at his friend's funeral, and he creates that perfect world. And in that world the lonely are no longer lonely, and everyone is welcome. In that world preachers preach sermons about truth, about love and hope. And in that world mothers and fathers accept, embrace, and love every single thing about their children.

Well, at that point my character would hug her son--and honey, I would just fall to pieces. I was supposed to stop crying and start singing with the rest of the cast, but the tears just wouldn't stop. Because after I hugged my boy, "Mark" would bring back the love of his life, T.J., who had left him for a woman--because of the church, because of society, because like so many, he had been taught to believe that what he was, was an abomination to God and if he lived his truth he would go to hell. And as the music is building--no help from me because I'm still crying--but in Mark's perfect world he would say, "A world where I can love and he can love." Then T.J. would walk in, take Mark's face and kiss him and say, "I love you."

There they were in their black suits--so beautiful--holding hands, standing before a preacher, like two grooms. And my tears would continue to fall, through the blackout, through my curtain call, all the way back to my dressing room. Because Mark's perfect world didn't really exist. He would always wake up--with hope, yes--but he would always wake up.

I took this play because I have hope too. Times are changing, folks, because of people like you who are putting a face on being gay, showing the world that you are just like the rest of us. You are God's creations, and you are perfect. And someday, hopefully in my lifetime, we will have Mark's perfect world.

So, yes, I believe in gay marriage. I believe in equal rights.

And I too dream of a perfect world. And in my perfect world there will no longer be the need to give Equality Awards, because equality will simply be. Now, don't think I'm giving this back, because I love awards...and tiaras...and homosexuals. Thank you very, very much. This means so much.

Advocate Channel - The Pride StoreOut / Advocate Magazine - Fellow Travelers & Jamie Lee Curtis

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