By Francis Martin
The colonnaded stained-glass east window was bathed in purple light, and Barbara, the hostess for the evening, was dressed to match the liturgical season in a shimmering purple dress.
“Preach!”, the name of the first drag night at St. James’s, Piccadilly, in central London, held on Saturday, March 4, had attracted controversy before it began, reports Church Times. Some Twitter users and media commentators questioned the appropriateness of holding a drag show in a church.
The church’s Twitter posts about the event received hundred of replies, mostly negative. The Church of England was “lost”, one said. “You all sure make Satan happy. Pretty sure that’s your goal,” wrote another.
Barbara, who is a member of the congregation, addressed the critics from the chancel step, in front of a long purple curtain that hid the altar. “This is madness; have you seen the Church? They all look they’re wearing lace doilies!”
Speaking on the following Monday, the Rev. Lucy Winkett, rector of St. James’s, said, “We’re not doing this to be controversial, genuinely we’re not; we just think it’s part of our context, and it’s a conversation we want to have.
“It’s quite an organic development,” she explained: the event had been in development for more than a year, and arose in part from the church’s position on the edge of Soho. Along with an active LGBTQ+ section of the congregation, St. James’s had had “one or two people who are drag artists over the past few years.” The event, therefore, was “just part of St. James’s congregation’s identity.”
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