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Why Doing Drag Makes Me a Better Pastor




A little over a decade ago, and long before I ever even considered going into ministry, I was asked if I wanted to perform in a drag show in Dallas. The last time I had performed in drag was in a high school production of The Music Man, so I figured I was prepared for this. But I wasn’t prepared for how much it would change my life. I met some of the sharpest witted, talented human beings, and I got to experience what true community looks like in those dressing rooms. Like the night in 2015 when a fellow performer’s costume suddenly malfunctioned right before they were due to go on stage. I (dressed as a Shania Twain lumberjack, mind you) quickly began sewing the tear, while other performers offered reassuring words, another lent a glove, and the lovely humans running the show bought some time. Through it all, Buck Wylde took the stage that night in his infamous half-and-half look, and it was a wonder to behold. And after years of friendship, guidance, and continued affirmation from Buck, we’re still sharing stages together.





It is written in the Acts of the Apostles that the early church followers opened their homes to one another, they also pooled their resources and used them to care for those who were in need. If you’re wondering what that has to do with drag, should you ever find yourself missing something before a show, chances are someone in the dressing room has it and is ready to help. Any cash a performer might receive during their routine usually ends up being handed to the next performer, and so on. Is that not also the mission of the church?

 

I can’t really explain why, but something shifts when I get into drag. A difficult experience in my teens caused me to feel distant from my body for several years, and while I have also been to therapy (thank you, therapy), there is an experiential part of drag. It gives my body permission to feel sexy (yes, a pastor said that), confident, empowered, and absolutely ridiculous in ways that I may not be ready for in my day-to-day life, and I’m grateful I have Brock Bottom for that. It is written that God said, “Let us make humankind in our image,” and drag is what reminds me of how much we limit the truly unfathomable image of the Divine. If Ezekiel could envision a creature with four heads and wings floating above wheels covered in eyeballs, then why is the concept of drag so outlandish? Why can’t the image of God have rhinestones, glitter, and fringe?

 

Anti-drag legislation has become a commonality, and as someone who does drag and preaches the Gospel, I fail to see how one is in any way threatening to the other. I mean, have you seen clergy vestments? Come on. The way I see it, when we find ourselves in need, I want a church that feels like a dressing room. When we feel unseen, I want to add glitter, because we were never meant to hide our light under a bushel basket. So, we shine brighter.

 

RuPaul is known for saying “We’re all born naked, and the rest is drag,” and there is truth to that. Culture, religion, climate, gender norms, and societal expectations all dictate how we dress. Fashion changes through the years, and some return. Y2K fashion has become the new trend with younger generations, or rather, the younger generations are interpreting early 2000s fashion in their own way. It’s all drag. Humankind has continually made God small because it is a terrifying thing to acknowledge that God is beyond our understanding. So, perhaps, drag is actually a glimpse into the kin-dom of heaven.

 

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