IN THE RED

Queer Writes centers writing and storytelling from St. Louis LGBTQ creatives.


June 27, 2024
As part of Pride month, there was an uptick of celebrations of queer art in St. Louis, and for the second year in a row, LGBTQ+ writers got their time to shine at the Missouri History Museum.

This year’s Queer Writes line-up featured eight writers, including comedians, singer-songwriters, poets and playwrights. They performed their works on Thursday, June 27 at the Missouri History Museum’s Lee Auditorium as part of Gateway to Pride and Thursday Nights at the Museum programming.

Among the performers was veteran actor and playwright Michael Kearns. Born and raised in St. Louis, Kearns is credited as one of the first openly gay actors and the first working actor openly living with HIV in Hollywood. He performed several monologues from his solo stage play “Intimacies” in which Kearns writes vignettes about the many personalities he got to know while living in Los Angeles.

Michael Kearns with Joan Lipkin, founder of That Uppity Theater Company, and host of “Queer Writes.”
Full Article from NPR available here.

THE RED SCARF

“The red scarf was my acting partner, my constant companion, my inspiration–for 35 years–in theatres, churches, meeting rooms, school cafeterias, outdoor festivals, classrooms, living rooms, throughout America and abroad: every place I performed characters from my solo shows, intimacies and more intimacies,” Michael Kearns says.

Most recently, Kearns performed at the Missouri History Museum, part of Joan Lipkin’s Queer Writes evening featuring a roster of St. Louis’s luminous LGBTQI+ writers. Kearns was included in the lineup in spite of the fact that he did not have the red scarf.

Michael Near the Museum Display of the Red Scarf

The original scarf was nearby, elegantly framed, part of the Gateway to Pride Exhibit, currently at the Museum until June of 2025. 

For the record, Kearns’ associate Theresa Kennedy created a new red scarf for the Queer Writes event.

“In my formative years,” Kearns says, “St. Louis was certainly not friendly to our community so to imagine that 55 years after I left, I would be honored in such a spectacular way, is very important to me and I am ever grateful.”

Reviews of intimacies Through the Years

“Kearns’ portrayal won acclaim in Los Angeles last summer and later in stints in San Francisco and Paris. The characters, presented by Kearns with only a stool and red scarf for props, include a street hustler, a West Hollywood accountant, a 63-year-old homeless ex-con and a mother who thinks her illness is punishment from God.”
Chicago Tribune, 11/16/89

“Intimacies pulled no punches; these six characterizations were as devastatingly real as Kearns could make them. Using only a long, red scarf as his prop, Kearns took us on a tour of the globe as he recreated his myriad of men and women dying slow, terrible deaths. In a swift, one-hour tour-de-force, he painted six portraits of people who came to their fates, not because of whims or twists of fate, but because of their own foolish, unsuspecting actions.” – CNVC, 11/13/09