Drag queens in San Francisco parish controversy

Whether or not drag queens have been banned from events at San Francisco’s Most Holy Redeemer Catholic parish has become a controversial topic in the city’s Castro district.

Drag queens had been a feature of an annual Harvest Feast fundraiser held on the gay-friendly parish’s property by the Castro Country Club, an addiction recovery group.

But in August the new pastor, Father Brian Costello, told the club that drag queen performers and emcees would no longer be permitted.

“I said work with me. You can still have the dinner. You can have a regular emcee, but not drag queens on church property,” Father Costello told the Bay Area Reporter.

He added: “I am the new pastor. There is a new archbishop. The archdiocese told me straight out, ‘No drag queens’.”

But the San Francisco Chronicle got a different story when it spoke to parish business manager Michael Poma.

“Father Brian wasn’t educated about the importance of drag queens in the gay community,” Poma said. “Once it was explained to him, he said they were welcome to attend as long as their behaviour was church-appropriate.”

Poma said the new policy was a ban on all non-church bookings, including weddings, because of problems including an event held by a gay softball team with some people “practically doing live sex acts on stage”.

“We’re part of the community here and to think that we’re banning drag queens is obnoxious and ridiculous. There is no moratorium on drag queens. The church is predominately gay,” he said, with many gays serving in ministry.

There was speculation that the new policy arose from the appointment of Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone, an active opponent of same-sex marriage, as Archbishop of San Francisco.

But archdiocesan spokesman George Wesolek said: “The new archbishop has absolutely no authority until October 4 when he takes over. I’m pretty sure he didn’t even hear about this issue until now.”


Bay Area Reporter

San Francisco Examiner

California Catholic Daily

Image: CARM

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