homophobia · Sexuality · spirituality

Drag out the Holy Spirit

Excerpt from: “Queering the Trinity: Who’s Your Daddy?”
by Daniel Borysewicz, MDiv, CSR | Oct. 2015
MCC Virtual Symposium: Who are we, Really? Re-engaging Sex and Spirit

As a Drag Queen, the Divine is fierce, powerful, larger than life, and creates movement of body, air, and sound. There are times when our lives need to be shaken up by the way a drag queen comes into a room and gets things moving with a fabulous outfit and song. Elizabeth Johnson writes that the Holy Spirit is a transforming force in the world that recruits uniqueness, insists upon change, and instigates resurrection for new life. Johnson explains:

Brokenness and sin are everywhere, a situation that makes the full life and harmony of creation exist more as future hope than as past or present fact. In this intractable circumstance the vivifying power of divine Spirit comes to expression most intensely on fragmentary moments of renewing, healing, and freeing when human imbecility and destructive ill will are held at bay of overcome and a fresh start becomes possible.[1] 

The drag queens of Stonewall Bar (pictured right) aided the queer people in Greenwich Village towards rebellion and liberation on that summer night in 1969. In Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, he writes that the manifestations of the Holy Spirit bring messages of wisdom, faith, prophecy, and gifts of healing.[2] These drag queens were activist for social change and their embodiment of the androgyne figure was grounded in gender politics.[3] Through their prophetic acts of defiance and revolt, the first steps were taken to begin the greater movement of liberation for queer people.The drag queens of Stonewall Bar (pictured right) aided the queer people in Greenwich Village towards

The very nature of liberation and healing is also found in the manifestation of the Divine in The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence (pictured left). Founded in 1979 by a small group of gay men in San Francisco wearing nun’s habits to draw attention to the inequities surrounding social issues, the Sister’s influence has extended around the world to spread universal joy and absolve stigmatic guilt.[4] This intersection of the sacred and profane presents a formidable force for change everywhere the Sisters go in the world. Bringing love and compassion to the wounded members of society, the queerness of their presence can convey a restoration of hope to the oppressed and marginalized living in a heteronormative world. Through their public rituals of healing and removal of shame, the Sisters represent a queer image of the Divine. Moltman discusses the importance of restoring the ‘image of God’ in people.[5] The Hebrew Bible provides a clear understanding of where this notion originates in Genesis: “Then God said, ‘Let us make humankind in our image, in our likeness.’”.[6] The Holy Spirit can help in this restoration.

The Drag Queen is also a force for dismantling our culturally held notions of gender. The world is very familiar with RuPaul, Lady Bunny, and Sharon Needles. These drag queens present the illusion of female to their audiences. While these aspects of drag may create a specific image of woman, there are many others who reveal the imitative structure of gender itself and assist is deconstruction our commonly held assumptions.[7] Gender bending is another realm of the drag queen world that can be utilized with queering the Holy Spirit. These manifestations include big hairy gay men performing in fabulous dresses to raise money for AIDS, as well as young masculine lesbians donning a ‘New Kids on the Block’ look to perform as ‘Drag Kings’ at a local queer bar. There are not limitations to how the Holy Spirit can have a queer impact on the world.

[1] Johnson, Elizabeth A., She Who Is: the Mystery of God in Feminist Theological Discourse, 10th ed. (New York: The Crossroad Publishing Company, 2002),135.

[2] 1 Corinthians 12:7-10 New International Version (NIV)

[3] Hume, Lynne and McPhillips, Kathleen, eds., Popular Spiritualities: The Politics of Contemporary Enchantment (ALDERSHOT: Ashgate Pub Co, 2006), 119.

[4] The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, Inc., http://thesisters.org/

[5] Moltman, Jürgen, The Spirit of Life: A Universal Affirmation, Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1992, 175.

[6] Genesis 1:26 (NIV – Inclusive language mine).

[7] Jagose, Annamarie, Queer Theory: an Introduction (New York: NYU Press, 1997), 85-86

See Full Text of Queering the Trinity: Who’s Your Daddy?