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I am always looking for jams to flow through my ear buds when I’m out running. This new beat has been on repeat as my feet hit ground and run:
You need to know that I adore RuPaul.
This week on my facebook newsfeed, my clergy colleague who serves another congregation, put a picture of Sahara Davenport (Antoine Ashley) on his wall expressing how sad he is that his friend, Antoine, has passed away. I watched Sahara Davenport compete on RuPaul’s Drag Race season 2. Even though I was not a friend of his, like my clergy colleague, I am sad to hear about her death.
I have another friend who has shared stories of the 1960’s in New York City when he and his drag queen friends would hang out. He told me about the abuse and the hate crimes and we lamented how there are still too many hate crimes today. My friend shared stories about his drag queen friends who were catalysts in the Stonewall Riots of 1969, which began the LGBTQ liberation movement.
I dig learning about the history of New York City. One of the recent documentaries I watched is called Paris is Burning. This film chronicles the 1980’s African American and Latino transgendered and gay drag ball culture. It is a well-done documentary. Both as a film and a piece of education I highly recommend it to you.
You need to know I adore drag queens.
In fact, I believe some of drag culture embodies so much of what I would hope for any Christian. The friends I have and the stories I have inherited about drag culture have taught me invaluable lessons about what being a faithful Christian looks like. Let me explain.
One of the essential movements of Christianity is transformation. We are called to change or in the Greek, metanoia. Like Saul of Tarsus we go through changes and become new people. We have conversion experiences that help us live more faithfully to God in a way that is true to the personality that God has given us. Drag queens are a clear example of what transformation looks like.
I also think that drag queens remind us of joy. Our holy text is filled with verses that remind us to play and be filled with joy. Ecclesiastes 8:15 is one of those anchor passages for me which expresses, So I commend enjoyment, for there is nothing better for people under the sun than to eat, and drink, and enjoy themselves, for this will go with them in their toil through the days of life that God gives them under the sun. Drag queens remind us to laugh, have fun, and enjoy life.
In 2002 my graduating class chose John Lennon’s song Imagine. We were a bunch of millennials romanticizing an era that we believed embodied imagination and liberation. Imagination is essential to the Christian believer. When we imagine we regain hope. Drag queens teach us how to imagine. Drag queens help us to be imaginative Christians who work for thy kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven.
Finally, I believe drag queens can teach us a lot about asking questions about why many things seem to be engendered that don’t actually have a gender (since when was their such a thing as a male soap and a female soap? Soap is soap.) I think the Christian culture has too easily bought into the captialistic movements of engendering and it’s time for many of us to be more playful with our gender presentations. I could go on but I will save the topic of this paragraph for another post another day. Drag queens welcome us to be more thoughtful about gender presentation.
If you are not familiar with drag culture I want to encourage you to get familiar. Watch Paris is Burning with an open mind and learn about a culture that might be different than yours. Go to a drag queen performance. Seek out a friend who is a drag queen and listen to their story. Don’t go to evangelize but instead to be evangelized to. Let them teach you/us how to love thy neighbor better.
I have learned the more I get to know people who live differently than I do the more compassionate I become and the more I learn what it means when Jesus demands of us to love our neighbor as yourself. In two weeks from now I will write on what my friends who are Muslim have taught me about what it means to be a better Christian.
’till next time…
Grace and Peace.