As Atlanta gears up for its first Fringe Festival, David Magazine caught up with some of the artists to highlight the LGBTQ features sure to make you laugh this week. First up, Will Nolan and his hilarious character Leola, the “Jesus-loving, Senior Citizen, Redneck, Lesbian Diva”.
What inspired the “Jesus-loving, Senior Citizen, Redneck, Lesbian Diva” that is Leola?
I am gay, but I also consider myself a Christian. I feel like in today’s society, various political groups have made it seem like you can’t be both gay and Christian. Leola is unabashedly both, and I think one of the things people love about her is that she’s not apologetic about being either.
I also have great respect for people who come out later in life. I think there’s this idea that once you reach a certain age, you can’t evolve anymore. And of course, that’s far from the truth. I had a very dear uncle who came out at 65. The combination of his story – coming out later in life and having a firm faith without judgment – with the great Southern women I grew up with, in particular my mom, that all morphed into the not-quite-legendary-diva that is Leola.
Talk to me about Leola’s love for Jesus.
Whether you are Christian or not…whether you think Jesus was the Son of God or just the first televangelist (well, pre TV), most people (maybe?) would agree that he taught acceptance and unconditional love, without judgment. Leola has a simple and pure love for Jesus because he has always been her rock. She knows that he loves her – gay or straight, young or old, redneck or yankee. That belief is unwavering. It’s not to say she doesn’t have fears, regrets, etc. But she has a confidence because she believes Jesus is always there with her.
She also thinks Jesus looks like a lesbian. So there’s comfort in that.
Who is Leola’s favorite Reality TV star?
I’ll answer this one myself, thanks much! I love me some Monica Kauffman y’all! Now you may think I’m crazy to call her a reality star, but what is more real than the news? Am I right? And every week with a different hair do (or don’t) leaving it up to Atlantans everywhere to stand round water coolers or beer coolers and vote on what fro stayed and what weave went. Love that lady. In fact, she might be the reason I finally came out.
Now if you’re talking more traditional reality TV stars, I gotta say Swamp People and Dance Mom and Dance Mom Miamis and any Housewife (NeNe are you reading this shuggah? call me!) and Cake Boss and Storage Wars and anything with midgets or Mormons or Mormon midgets and beauty pageants. Just not the Kardashians. I am sorry and I hope this don’t make me un-Christian, but I don’t know what a Kardashian is or what a Kardashian does or why a Kardashian even exists. Except to spread disease. In fact, they may be terrorist, but don’t quote me on that.
What does Leola wear to Church?
I’m glad you asked about fashion cause there’s this ugly rumor that ladies who like ladies don’t care about fashion. That we just wear flannel and sports bras and boots. But I take exception to that. I’m workin towards bein the Jaclyn Smith of lesbian ready-to-wear, if you must know. I hope to launch an online fashion site on the world wide web in the not too distant future. I just need a computer and then to design a clothing line. Think latchhook meets Okefenokee.
For Church though… If it’s got rainbows on it, I wear it. Gay magazine reading friends, I will wear anything with our pride flag on it I can find! But I’m an older gal, so I believe in dressing for church too. Showin the big guy a little respect, you know what I’m sayin? Dress things up a smidge. So most Sundays I’m sittin front & center in my rainbow caftan and Jesus head wrap wearing my pride buttons. Sometimes white gloves. And a splash of lipstick, just for color. I used to carry my rainbow flag, but people in the back couldn’t see. But really, it ain’t about what you wear to church…it’s about showin up.
Next: Les Kurkendaal’s Christmas in Bakersfield