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FilmOut: "Sordid Lives" creator to receive Career Achievement Award at festival

(Editor's note: San Diego Gay & Lesbian News will be previewing the 14th annual FilmOut San Diego LGBT Film Festival, which runs May 30 through June 3 at the historical Birch North Park Theatre. Look for Q&A interviews with celebrities and directors as well as film reviews.)

SAN DIEGO -- Fans of the campy, yet classic film “Sordid Lives” will be excited to attend this year’s FilmOut LGBT Film Festival, as “Sordid Lives” writer and creator Del Shores will attend to accept a Career Achievement Award. FilmOut San Diego, now in their 14th year producing the annual film festival, will be honoring Shores with the award as well as screening his film.

The ceremony and screening is on May 31, and FilmOut Festival Programmer Michael McQuiggan said, “We chose Del Shores because of his ties within the LGBT community. He is a very respected writer, producer and director. He covers all mediums: stage, television and film.”

In addition to the 2000 full length feature “Sordid Lives,” which was adapted from Shores’s 1996 play of the same name, the southern-born writer, director and actor wrote several plays including “Cheatin’,” “Daughters of the Lone Star State,” “Southern Baptist Sissies” and “The Trials and Tribulations of a Trailer Trash Housewife.” He has appeared on television in the shows “Queer as Folk” and “Dharma & Greg,” among others, and said is continually working on something.

“It never feels like work to me,” Shores said. “I love writing. I love directing. I’ve gotten back on stage, and I love that as well.”

Shores is perhaps best known for his writing, none more so than “Sordid Lives.” After the play was adapted to the big screen, Shores and his team of regular actors turned it into a 12-episode series for the cable network Logo. Many of the actors from the original play, including Leslie Jordan, Ann Walker, Rosemary Alexander and Newell Alexander stayed with Shores for each production.

“I love working with the same actors,” Shores said. “I’m comfortable with them.”

Two of those actors, Rosemary and Newell Alexander, met Shores before he came out, when the pair were working in theater in Los Angeles. “We came up with him through the ranks,” Newell Alexander said. “He really helped jump-start our careers.”

Shores, however, said he felt he owed his career to them. “There’s something that’s always interesting when I hear that from them. I honestly feel it’s just the opposite,” he said of their sentiment.

Besides the comedy intrinsic in most of Shores’s work, the Alexanders both said he was, first and foremost, a champion of LGBT rights. Rosemary Alexander said Shores is a deeply spiritual, caring and nurturing person. “When he came out, he very quickly became so outspoken; first of all for himself,” she said.

“I think that’s what gave him the platform to stand up for everybody else,” Rosemary Alexander said. “He was very outspoken … and he just took that on, to all of his public things.”

Newell Alexander said he agreed and added that Shores reaches an audience larger than the LGBT community. “He really opens himself up to the local communities; not only [to] the gay communities but the gray communities,” Newell Alexander said. “It’s interesting how older people [and] straight people love his writing and love his work.”

Shores’s activism goes beyond his artistic work, he said, including writing open letters to celebrities who speak out against the LGBT community, like Victoria Jackson, Newt Gingrich and Kirk Cameron.

“I don’t do it, really, to change their minds, I do it as a form of entertainment,” Shores said about his letters to Jackson and the others. “It’s more of telling a lot of people, ‘I got your back,’” he said.

“I’m very passionate about being an activist these days,” Shores said. “You can’t just sit and be passive. You have to scream loudly sometimes, and that’s what I do.”

Shores said he was honored to be receiving the Career Achievement Award, and is looking forward to coming to San Diego for the event. Shores said he has plans to return to San Diego in June for a stand-up performance at Martinis Above Fourth.

Walker and the Alexanders will be in attendance for Shores’s tribute as well. Tickets for the Del Shores Sordid Lives event, including a pre-performance by Dixie Longate, who will be giving the award to Shores, are $20. The event starts at 7:30 p.m. at the Birch North Park Theatre, 2891 University Ave. The FilmOut festival runs from May 30 to June 3. For more information and tickets visit HERE.

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