ST. LOUIS – Capping off both National Coming Out and LGBT History Month is a special staging of The Big, Fat LGBT Everything You Need to Know Show of Shows on Oct. 23, 2014 at the Missouri History Museum. The event is free and open to the public. 


The production is billed as a fun, poignant and fact-filled 50 minute romp through the realities of LGBTQ life using sketch comedy, song, dance, breaking news and more.


Written by Joan Lipkin and Theresa Masters and produced by That Uppity Theatre Company, The Big, Fat LGBT Show will bring together an impressive representation of community organizations, activists and leaders for a pre-show networking event at 6:30 p.m. with show time at 7:30 p.m. Immediately following will be a short panel with St. Louis LGBTQ leaders discussing their experiences and taking questions from the audience.


The Big, Fat LGBT Show was created out of a clear need in the community to educate or support various LGBT groups and interests in a variety of settings,” said Lipkin, Artistic Director of That Uppity Theatre Company. “The show is ideal for corporations, social service agencies, middle and high schools, and college campuses.  We have two different versions, a version geared for youth and another one for adults. It is a more entertaining sequel to our earlier show on this topic called  Ten Percent. Some of the organizations for whom we had previously performed Ten Percent have asked us to come back, so we wanted to provide them with newer programming.”


According to Lipkin, the piece premiered successfully at Pfizer in August 2009, and is continually updated with breaking news as well as new songs and sketches.


“We try to help audiences look at where we have been and where we are going, in a sense to catch up to shifts in culture and legislation,” Lipkin explained. “So the piece is relevant whether someone might appreciate having their identity affirmed as well as if they have limited experience (or so they think) with LGBT people.  We look at societal pressures whether at home or in the workplace, significant contributions by LGBT people to our culture, breaking legislation and more.  Transgender experience is included in our tent because it is an important and growing issue.”


The Big, Fat LGBT Show has been performed for numerous corporations, social service agencies and other organizations, including Pfizer, Brown Shoe, Ameren, St. Louis Zoo, Monsanto, The National Geospatial Agency, Association of Legal Administrators, The Diversity Awareness Partnership, MasterCard, Wells Fargo Advisors and Missouri Foundation for Health. Productions have also been staged at Webster University, New City School, St. Louis College of Pharmacy and Maryville University.


“People have loved the show and often brought it back because it is such an enjoyable way to look at LGBT experience and then opens up a space for a more intimate discussion of issues,” said Lipkin. “We have been working with the Diversity Awareness Partnership for several years and do our youth version of the show for them and then sometimes in the post show discussion, the issue of bullying has been raised by young people in the audience.  And we are able to reassure them that we were once kids and that many of us had a challenging time but that we were able to come through it and yes, "it can get better."”


“But our adult audiences really respond to the work as well,” Lipkin continued. “When we performed for the National Geo-Spatial Intelligence Agency, a lesbian came up to us after the show with tears in her eyes to thank us and say she had never seen anything about her life represented in the workplace and that she wanted people to know what she experienced.”


Lipkin, who has been omnipresent in the St. Louis LGBT and social justice communities, admits she learned a lot in crafting the piece.


“I have learned a lot about history, about historical figures and that has filled me with a sense of pride to part of a tradition of such accomplishment,” she explained. “I also learned even more about discrimination throughout history and that only brings home the need for a traveling production like this.  It is essential that we all-- gay and straight-- understand the history of discrimination and bigotry that LGBT people experience in the states and abroad and that LGBT rights are human rights.”


Panelists participating in the post-Big, Fat LGBT Show discussion on Oct. 23, include: Betty Neeley, Community Volunteer & Activist; Kelly Hamilton, ALIVE Editor-in-Chief/Co-Founder & Board Chair of PROMO; ShowMe Charlotte, Entertainer/Owner, Brazen Hussy Productions and Randy Rafter, President of the St. Louis Black Gay & Lesbian Committee.


On Sunday, Oct 26 at 2:30 pm, there will be a free youth version of The Big, Fat LGBT Show that is open to all ages and which will be followed by a panel of LGBTQ youth.


“I hope that straight audiences realize the myriad of micro aggressions that are visited on LGBT people every day, that encourages closeted behavior including playing the pronoun game and how stressful it is to live that way,” said Lipkin. “I hope it encourages them to examine their own behavior within the dominant culture and to rethink what real inclusion means.”


“For LGBT audiences, I hope they will be able recognize and even laugh at some of the things we experience as testimony to our tremendous creativity and capacity of survival,” Lipkin concluded. “And I want everyone, regardless of sexual orientation or gender expression to enjoy themselves.  We are shameless hams, no pun or bad joke is beneath us. Plus we sing and dance a lot. So that is pretty gay.”


Lipkin is also busy working on the fourth annual BRIEFS, an evening of LGBT short plays, which is again being produced in partnership by That Uppity Theatre Company and Vital VOICE with assistance from The LGBT Center of St. Louis. The festival, which has grown each year, will move to Centene Center in March 2015. According to Lipkin, BRIEFS has more submissions that ever before, over 150 from across the country, which their reading committee is gamely making their way through.


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