- Churches are hosting drag story hours, queer proms and events to help liberate themselves “from the Bible as a weapon of exclusion” for this year’s Pride month.
- A Maryland church is advertising its upcoming drag queen story hour with “Mama Belle” and encouraging children to “be themselves,” arguing that even Jesus “used tools employed by drag artists!”
- “Additionally, by breaking down barriers of traditional gender norms, drag queens help to create an atmosphere that is both open, accepting, and free of anything that could inhibit imagination,” First Presbyterian Church in Columbia, Maryland, said about its Drag Queen Story Hour.
Several churches are celebrating Pride month by hosting events including queer proms, a drag queen story hour and a study to liberate themselves “from the Bible as a weapon of exclusion.”
A 2020 study from the University of California Los Angeles School of Law Williams Institute found that 47% of Americans who identified as LGBTQ also considered themselves moderately or highly religious, according to NBC News. As June goes into full swing, houses of worship in Ohio, New York, California and Maryland are hosting several Pride-themed events. (RELATED: Major League Baseball Teams Celebrate Pride Month With ‘Rainbow Walks’ And Pregame Drag Shows)
First Presbyterian Church in Columbia, Maryland, is hosting a drag queen story hour on June 11 with drag queen “Mama Bella” for children of all ages, according to the event page. Another webpage, which has since been taken down and archived, went into a further explanation of the purpose of the event and argued that it creates a space for children to “be themselves.”
“The costumes and imaginative presentation of the Drag Queen enhance the story as the storyteller themselves is conveying a story through their dramatic appearance and performance,” the church explained. “Additionally, by breaking down barriers of traditional gender norms, drag queens help to create an atmosphere that is both open, accepting, and free of anything that could inhibit imagination. If even, drag queens provoke questions, that in of itself is evidence that they are opening the gateway to wonder and engagement.”
The church claimed that drag queen story hours are safe for children because the events were “created by a mother (who is a member of the LGBTQ+ community) for she and her child to enjoy, and experience together.” The church also said that the story hours show that “[o]ne could say that Jesus used tools employed by drag artists!”
Trinity Church Wall Street in New York City is encouraging young people to attend its “Youth Queer Prom” sponsored by Trinity Gender Sexuality Alliance (GSA). The prom is only for teens in 9-12th grade that identify as LGBTQ+ and will feature “dancing, fashion, snacks, swag, and great music,” according to the event page.
All Saints Church in Pasadena, California, hosted a “Somewhere Over the Rainbow Queer Prom” on June 2 and a Drag Queen Bingo Hour on June 4 following a regular Sunday service, according to the church’s website. The church has several other LGBTQ events planned throughout the month including a Pride Movie Night screening of “The Wizard of Oz” on June 16 and an event titled “But the Bible Says” on June 11 to help religious members liberate themselves “from the Bible as a weapon of exclusion … [and] to dismantle the misuse of our sacred texts as weapons of mass discrimination.”
Canon Susan Russell, a reverend at the church, told the Daily Caller News Foundation that the “But the Bible Says” program is offered occasionally to church members to unpack the “biblical context” for passages that have been used against the LGBTQ community.
“It includes the historical note that just as a handful of texts out of context were used in the 17th century to brand Galileo a heretic, a handful of texts out of context are being used in our time to stigmatize LGBTQ+ people — and that the Bible is neither a text book on Astronomy nor Human Sexuality but of faith in a God who created us all in love and calls us to love one another,” Russell said. “Recognizing that good people of deep faith read the same Bible and come to different conclusions on a whole variety of issues — sexual orientation and gender identity being among them — our hope is to equip our parish members to be in dialogue with those with whom we differ while affirming the inherent dignity and belovedness of every member of our human family.”
Christ Church Cathedral invited Ohio LGBTQ singers in Cincinnati to participate in a “queer-centric, multi-generational” choir for the “SingOUTCincy” festival. The preparation for the festival spans over several days as the group prepares for a concert on June 13, and students in 9th-12th grade who wish to perform can sign up for free.
“This one-weekend-only experience will highlight the voices of Cincinnati’s LGBTQIA+ community, and showcase works by queer composers,” the event page reads.
On June 19, which marks Juneteenth, Christ Church in New York City is inviting the NYC Gay Men’s Chorus to help its congregation learn the “intersectionality of being Black and queer.”
“A group of the NYCGMC’s Black singers will share what Juneteenth means to them through their own stories, solos, and favorite songs,” the church’s event page reads. “Backed by a formation of the full chorus, NYCGMC is proud to center and spotlight these singers for this celebratory and essential concert to center voices and experiences too long unheard. Big Apple Performing Arts and the NYCGMC are committed to combating discrimination in all forms through the power and unifying nature of our music.”
The church is also celebrating Father’s Day on June 18 with a coffee hour put on by its LGBTQ+ ministry to celebrate not only fathers but “other nurturers that have provided us with love and support.” To close out the month, a special Pride Service will be held on June 29 to highlight the church’s “LGBTQIA+ siblings” and its “commitment to inclusion, diversity, and love.”
A spokesperson for the church told the DCNF that the goal of the events is to “show support and solidarity with the LGBTQIA+ community.”
“It reflects our commitment to inclusivity, diversity, and showing the love of Christ to all,” the spokesperson said. “By organizing Pride Month celebrations, our church seeks to foster an environment where everyone, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, feel embraced, supported, and valued. These celebrations also acknowledge past mistreatment of LGBTQIA+ individuals by religious institutions and seek to rectify it.”
First Presbyterian Church, Trinity Church Wall Street and Christ Cathedral Church did not respond to the DCNF’s requests for comment.
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