I'm sure you've heard that about her before, but tomorrow she's coming to Indianapolis to ply her wares. She'll be performing with special guests Troubadours of Divine Bliss at the Indiana Roof Ballroom at 8pm. It's not often that Bilerico Project contributors wander through my city, but Kate was so excited about visiting she gave away tickets to the show on Bilerico-Indiana. (Congrats to Projector JoshV for the win!)
I talked with Kate about her upcoming tour and book, making a living as a lesbian comic, and where she sees the LGBT movement ten years from now. All after the jump.
Bil: What's it like going on tour with Kate Clinton?
Kate: I average 25-30 cities on tour and spend the summer in Provincetown. The biggest venue I've played was the 1993 March on Washington. I emceed the main stage. I also played at the Palace of Fine Arts in San Fran and I love the Madame Walker Theatre in Indianapolis.
Bil: I hear you have an upcoming book. Tell me about it.
Kate:I Told You So comes out in May from Beacon Press. It's my 3rd book; I collected some of my essays from magazines and blog posts with some original writing too. This one was quick to write since it was mostly collecting, but add in the new pieces and it took about 5 months to complete.
I also have 8 CDs that serve as a record of what I've been doing. Just to have it down somewhere is important; the books serve the same purpose too.
Bil: Does being Kate Clinton pay well? Do you think homophobia has kept you from earning as much as straight comics?
Kate: Less than before. I can make a living. When I started out I told myself, "If I get under $5000 in the bank, I'm done." I came close a few times, but in 6th grade "comedian" wasn't on the list
Originally there was definitely homophobia when I first started. I remember in club in LA one guy said "You can't do that gay stuff!" The same guy 10 years later when I played there again was saying, "I thought you'd do more gay stuff."
Women don't seem to make that jump seamlessly to movies and television and quite frankly now it's my age. I hope that it won't be true in my market and I don't think it is with my gay fans. George Burns' was a good age to retire, but in the broader culture it's harder for an older woman to make that crossover to a larger mainstream audience.
Bil: Where do you see the LGBT movement in ten years?
Kate: We will have DADT off the books. Gay people will serve openly.
We will have made progress in states on the issue of gay marriage but I don't think we'll have progressed to a federal bill; that's a long conversation
There will be consolidation of orgs as those that do the same work some will fold and folks will go to other orgs. With grassroots and internet connections and other types of communications forming that can happen now. It's going to look very different to what we're accustomed to seeing. Legislative and lobbying will go on but there's a possibility of mobilizing a grassroots voice that works with the orgs. Look at Prop 8; we can't do it alone. The ACLU, welcoming churches, PFLAG... We have to work with them. Everyone's been saying it for years, but it's really going to happen now.
For 8 years we'll have Obama who's about making those kind of connections and asking those questions. It was divide and conquer with Bush instead of working together. I think also that the key for the next 8 years for us as gay people is to insert ourselves into other issues - like healthcare - to show we're not an identity movement off to the side, but that we share issues with straight people. For example, education issues like anti-bullying or the green and environmental movement. We're part of the biosphere and getting rid of prejudice against gay people is part of the environment.
We need to stand up and say, "We want to work for you and have you work for us." We have that opportunity now.
Bil: We're thinking of hosting Bilerico parties around the nation. What would you wear?
Kate: Either my "Stonewall - What a riot!" t-shirt or my "SO-DO-MY Friends" shirt.