We are all born naked and the rest is drag

Michael Younes, Class of 2015

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I recently read an op-ed piece entitled “Drag Queens and Jesuits,” written for the John Carroll University student publication. The article written by a current student expressed his dismay at what he felt were the seriously falling standards at John Carroll with regards to its Catholic tradition. There are many things I could comment on from this piece but I want to focus on the overarching theme that was threaded throughout—John Carroll has fallen away from its Christian roots and needs to shift back to a more Christian ethos. The author cites numerous examples of how his faith is being affected: from the lack of sound education to not being permitted to kneel during the Eucharistic prayer. The authors goes on to cite the most grievous attack has be the drag show permitted on campus, which he laments that “not a single person in a position of authority stood up (or at least stood with sufficient strength) to suggest that perhaps such a flagrant celebration of sexual perversity might just be wrong.” I disagree with the authors premise that allowing this drag show shows that JCU is turning against its Catholic roots and is in fact embracing a culture of loving acceptance, which is embodied in the art of Drag.

The author makes a claim that “[Michael Johnson’s]…most important task will be to purge [John Carroll] of the evils which have invaded it in the names of tolerance and progress.” Further emphasizing that the University and the Catholic community should focus on a “return to a conservative ethic of chastity and respect for the divine construction of our nature.” This statement is centered on a nostalgic axis that looks to the past and sees a time of sexual purity which did not exist. And perpetuated a culture where sex was hidden and shameful. The sexual abuse scandals plaguing the news recently, form the Catholic Priest in Pennsylvania to the allegations against Judge Kavanagh, have one thing in common the perpetrators were educated in a time where sexual conservativism held a strong foothold in society. This fact begs the question, “was this tradition fruitful?” The effects of this time are only now coming to light, with the courage of the survivors who are coming forward to tell their stories. 

I am curious to know what the author means by “the divine gift of ordered sexuality” because the hallmark of the past, which I assume the author is looking back to, was rooted in a structure of dominance and fear, where the male was head and could not be overruled, perpetuating a culture which subjugated women, fetishizing ethnic minorities and marginalized whole groups of men and women.  This past “ordered sexuality” looks more like what the Apostle Paul and Jesus himself preached against. Sexuality rooted in dominance is in fact disordered, for love to be fruitful it must stand up to the scrutiny of the gospel — love your neighbor as you love yourself. 

This being said I want to shift the conversation to what I believe Christianity should embody, namely a culture of creating space at the table. What this article does is alienate those who already feel othered. Jesus said in John 14:2, “My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?”  I see this statement as one of radical inclusion. John Carroll in allowing the Drag Show, creates a space for LGBTQIA+ individuals to feel welcome at the table, the message is clear, John Carroll is a place for all peoples to come together and share in the human experience which is diverse in nature, and though I will also say that as an institution JCU has a long way to go allowing this drag show is a step to the inclusion Christ preached. It is important to remember that Christ welcomed all different types of people without judgement cementing a culture of love and acceptance at the heart of Christ’s message. And I end by quoting Ru Paul, a pioneer of Drag, ““We all came into this world naked. The rest is all drag.”  

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We are all born naked and the rest is drag