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The Letters of Skip Ward

Thursday, August 20

A podcast hosted by:
Alexandria Museum of Art
Alexandria, Louisiana.

Blanchard, “Skip” Ward was a gay activist in rural Louisiana during the 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, and into the beginning of the 21st century. His home was in Pineville.

Skip became increasingly involved in LGBTQIA activism in the early 1980s when he first came out. Or, as he would have phrased it, “came up front” about his sexuality. He co-founded the Unitarian/Universalist Church’s Gay Caucus. He also created Louisiana’s first publication tailored to its gay population, called Le Beau Monde. Ward held some form of membership with nearly every Louisiana LGBTQIA organization from the 1970s onward and was particularly active in the Louisiana Lesbian and Gay Political Action Caucus (LAGPAC), a political activist organization, and the Radical (or Raedical) Faeries, a national organization for rural-based gender and sexual non-conforming spiritualists.

The emcee for this event is Shannon Flaherty, co-artistic director of Goat in the Road Productions (GRP). Frank Perez, president of the LGBT+ Archives Project of Louisiana reads as the voice of Northern Louisiana conservative clergy. Two other ensemble GRP members are part of this reading. Owen Ever reads as the voice of Skip Ward and Dylan Hunter is the audio engineer on this production. Original music is composed and performed by Dylan as well.

Ward’s letters provide a rare glimpse into rural gay life and the political struggles of the 1980s and 1990s. —excerpted from the caption to “Letter to A Friend Just Coming Up Front”, in the online exhibit, Women and Gender.

LETTERS READ is the ongoing series of live events in which local performers interpret historically interesting letters written by culturally vital individuals from various times and Louisiana communities.

Curated and directed by stationer, Nancy Sharon Collins, in conjunction with Antenna, each reading brings general audiences into intimate moments usually experienced while reading a personal letter from one whom one knows.

Major support for the 2020 programming season is provided by Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities,* LGBTQ+ Archives Project of Louisiana, Corner Foundation, and Reba Judith Sandler Foundation. 

* The 2020 Letters Read Season is partially funded under a grant from the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities, the state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Any views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this event and podcast do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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