Ask any comedian and they’ll tell you that it’s not always about the quick wit and the snappy lines.
For comedy to really work and drive itself to the heart of cultural commentary with success, the delivery has to be made with the best possible timing; however, comedienne Kristen Becker had no idea that a blog post nearly a year in the making would hit the internet and ride the pulse of something occurring in her native state at the best possible time.
“I’d been working on the blog since April of last year and I had no knowledge of what was going on in Louisiana,” Becker told Henry Harbor, referring to the Louisiana Non-Discrimination Act, a piece of state legislation that was in a relatively infant stage when the post caught the eye of national magazines and the Shreveport Times. “The Louisiana Democratic Party reached out to me and the the political director of Forum for Equality Louisiana sent me an email.”
That email was the catalyst for Becker’s recent move from New York back to her home state to use her unique voice to draw attention to the Louisiana Non-Discrimination Act, which she will also be testifying on behalf of when it goes before the state legislature. “I’m gonna travel around the state and tell jokes and try to get people to pay attention,” Becker stated with excitement. A large portion of the proceeds from her shows go to Forum for Equality Louisiana, a statewide organization that has recently made national headlines as part of the driving force behind a lawsuit involving four same sex couples suing the state for equal rights.
The message from Forum for Equality Louisiana‘s political director informed Becker of the issues taking place right now in the state of Louisiana and requested that she venture down to join the fight and spread the word about the LGBT movement pushing for equality and reform. “It was like, ‘we are dealing with this right now!’” Becker remembers. “I had no idea. I mean, I’d been working on it for a while, but I had no idea.”
Becker is a a writer, producer, and performer who was honored to be asked to utilize her dynamic skill set for a cause near and dear to her heart. “I’m an all-or-nothing kid. If I’m gettin’ involved, I’m gettin’ involved full-go. They requested that I put on shows to benefit them and to increase visibility, and I get to do something that I feel really passionate about.” As an incredibly hilarious and out-spoken lesbian, Becker is amazed that Louisiana is still behind the rest of the country in its fight for LGBT equal rights. “I feel bad that my friends live here and I have more rights than they do. It hurts my feelings and it’s not right.”
Having graduated from Loyola before attending two colleges in the state, Becker said that a certain change of mindset took place after she left for the northeast. “I no longer know my place,” she admitted, “I did know my place when I lived here, and I would shut up and I would be quiet and I’m not that person anymore.” Becker believes that she can speak on behalf of others because she is no longer a Louisiana resident and can safely speak without fear and without worry of reprisal. “I have a friend who works for the State — I won’t say the city — and she’s paranoid, in fear of what would happen if her boss found out.” Becker reported that the friend admitted to dressing differently to go to work because she knows her boss is homophobic and that the woman knows she can’t be out at work in any way, shape, or form. “This spoke volumes to me,” she expressed in a rather dejected and disappointed tone.
Louisiana remains a state in which one can be fired for being gay.
“Having experienced what happened in New York state was really a catalyst for me. I got to feel what it feels like to be okay as far as everyone’s concerned. It was very liberating and Louisiana’s important to me. I spent half my life here and half my life in New York. I love both cultures the same. They’re totally different. If I’m there too long, I miss it here. If I’m here too long, I miss it there. In trying to balance out the two sides in my brain, this issue is a really important thing to me.”
Becker also stated that she believes her creative process is the perfect fire for the special blend of change she advocates. “I believe that comedians and activism go hand-in-hand,” she said, but states that she often worries that other people with equal or greater name recognition as her own don’t do as much as they could. “I don’t understand that. I mean, all I’m askin’ you to do is tweet about it — don’t you care? I know we’re upset about Russia and I know we’re upset about Uganda, but it’s happening here, too. It’s systematic and it’s not new. Why does no one care other than to say ‘you don’t go there?’ Maybe it’s the twelve years of Catholic school and the guilt that goes with it. I have something that others don’t and I should fix that.”
She goes on to emphatically state that “it’s important for people to come down and give everybody that lives here a fuckin’ shot in the arm. Even if it doesn’t pass this time, we’ll progress it a little bit, but I feel like if there’s enough attention on the state, they’ll be shamed into doing the right thing the same way Arizona was shamed into doing the right thing. If Arizona hadn’t had all the attention, it would’ve been the same as Mississippi.
The brazen comedienne not only expects, but welcomes any backlash that her shows and her voice might garner. When asked how she believes the LGBT equality movement compares to the civil rights and women’s liberation movements of the sixties and seventies, she replied that she believes that what is happening now is bigger.
“Because gay is in every country, on every continent, ever race, every ethnicity, every religion,” Becker’s words resonated with something to really consider. “This isn’t just about one race of people. This is about the entire fucking world and it’s everywhere.”
As the dialogue came to an end, Becker left Henry Harbor with something to really consider when contemplating the importance of participation in and support of the activism she is propagating:
“What if I’m your one last test?” she asked. “Before your Jesus comes back, I’m your test of love and you’re failing miserably. Because he put us everywhere. If the gay movement progresses, then all movements progress. This is a universal thing. All you have to do is learn to love me and you’ll go to heaven.”
Kristen Becker is back in Shreveport with her new comedy act, ‘Becker On the Bayou’. Becker uses her love of comedy to fight for the right of all people to live their lives with full equality and dignity, no matter who they love. Join her in solidarity and laughter. A portion of the proceeds from her Shreveport show will go to Forum for Equality and PACE.
Becker on the Bayou – Shreveport Comedy Show
Ernest Orleans Restaurant 1601 Spring St Shreveport
Friday- May 30, 2014- 8:00 PM
Open Seating : First Come, First Serve
$20 advance $25 at the door
Proceeds donated to Forum for Equality
and PACE (People Acting for Change and Equality)
For more information contact: firstname.lastname@example.org