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Drag is sacred art

Holy Week is a week-long drag festival – e.g. procession of dressed up statues, Mama Mary has noseline and jewelry, church leaders wearing beautiful fabrics with embroidery, sometimes beads and crystals. Whether in church or in a bar, drag is and will always be sacred. Some people just don’t want to see it that way.

By Rev. Joseph San Jose
Pastor, Open Table-MCC
an LGBTQIA+ affirming church

Come to think of it, Holy Week is a week-long drag festival. The many high church liturgical expressions are a kind of drag. Sinakulo is drag. People dressing up as biblical characters is a form of drag. Procession of dressed up statues of biblical characters is a kind of drag… Yung mga Maria ay naka-gown at jewelry na parang a-attend ng Oscars? Kung hindi yan drag, I don’t know what is. Si Mama Mary, may noseline at may mga gamante? Eschusme! Easter Vigil and then Salubong are the drag-est of them all, especially with priests and bishops bringing out and processing their best and most glamorous white and gold vestments; men wearing layers upon layers of beautiful fabrics with embroidery, and sometimes with beads and crystals? Mga acclang tohhh!

Drag is about stories of struggle and survival; of many deaths and resurrections of queer people. Drag is about transformations; of recreating yourself as many times over as you possibly can; of always becoming the better and best version of yourself as a human being and inspiring others to do likewise. It is about love – loving others and loving one’s self. Drag is about transcending and transmitting things that are truly human and also things that are out of this world. Drag is incarnating such stories of love and transformation in colorful and creative ways with the intention to inspire, to give joy, to invoke hope, to draw out tears, and oftentimes to critique oppressive norms. Was this not what Jesus was all about?

High Church Christendom has been doing drag since Emperor Constantine gave them Basilicas to perform in, and wealth to purchase their fabrics, jewels, crowns, and scepters. (Although there’s something to be said about empire’s co-optation, but that’s for another time of chika.)

Whether in church or in a bar, whether vestments and statues of saints or Marina Summers and Tia Kofi, drag is and will always be sacred; drag is proclamation; drag embodies the Gospel. Some people just don’t want to see it that way.

Why do we need drag now more than ever? Because it proclaims faith, hope, and love in a world spiraling back into violence and hate. Drag is prophetic and it is gospel. It is Easter coming out in the most fabulous way. Can I get an AMEN?

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