By David T. Valentin
Yesterday I had the opportunity to attend the virtual viewing of Fort Washington Church’s very own drag Sunday mass with Marge Erin Johnson (she/they), Washington Height’s very own local drag queen and ordained minister.
Dressed in a glittering white jumpsuit, massive blonde wig and all reminiscent of Dolly Parton, “Mama Marge” delivered a sermon befitting the upcoming Christmas season for those who are feeling lost, alone and without a home.
Now, I’ll admit it has been quite some time since I’ve attended a church service, so if I’m wowed by the ordinary events of this service, then please forgive me. But that’s the magic of church and prayer, is it not? To make the ordinary feel extraordinary again.
In Marge’s sermon, she talks of the politically radical birth of Jesus Christ, born under the reign of the tyrannical emperor Tiberius “reminding us that Jesus’ life and ministry is in the context of empire.” She goes on to explain that everything about Jesus’ birth was radical, born from an unwedded woman in a stable where animals live.
She goes on to talk of how John the Baptist speaks of preparing “a way for our lord…prepare the way of the lord and make his path straight.” Of course, no drag queen could resist the urge to make a joke of sexual orientation and then uses her joke to pivot the conversation to Pride, likening paving a path for the lord to our annual Pride parades in downtown, New York city.
“The best people to know how to make a path for the lord do it every year downtown in June and it is called the Pride parade,” Marge says. “If you want to make a path for the lord, then you better call the people who know how to do that, and that is the LGBTQIA+ community, also known as the alphabet mafia.
“We have balloons, glitter and floats and drag queens all for the arrival of the lord. And we will not have Citizens Bank, or Wells Fargo or AT&T on their BS about how ‘how we support the LGBTs....’ because AT&T donate 10 of thousands of dollars every year to anti-LGBT politicians. So, I hate to break it to them, but LGBT capitalism is not invited to the path we are making for the lord.”
She then tells the congregation of a website called yourholidaymom.com, “where people of all over can submit letters to queer and Trans-youth and extend love beyond their own family.” She reads the unpublished letter that she wrote, which welcomes people who are in need of a home who may have been rejected by their own families, reminding the audience that the path of the lord is not in money, or gifts, or glittering spectacular events, but by spreading love to your neighbor and creating a sense of home to those who need it.
Now, this was my first Drag Queen Mass and I was simply blown away by the inclusivity and welcoming audience of the Fort Washington Collegiate Church--to compare the love of the lord to the welcoming spirit and the sense of home the queer community feels during our Pride events.
And not only was it really heartwarming to see scripture be likened to Pride events in June, but also for Marge to create that dialogue without removing it from the rocky political history the queer community has with empires of capitalism and make that struggle known was something I don’t think you see very often in churches. To create a space for Mama Marge to not only interpret the scripture to preach that LGBTQ+ people are not only deserving of the love of Christ but also messengers of that love, but also disrupters and truth bringers to the false, commodified love of Christmas and welcomed by the audience was a true blessing of true inclusivity and love for one’s neighbor.