Christ the King = Christ the Drag Queen
originally published on November 23, 2017
Written by Leigh DeVries, Associate Director of the BYC
Christ the King Sunday is the last Sunday of the Christian liturgical year. It came into being around 1925 for various political, social, and theological reasons, and eventually the protestants jumped on the bandwagon. So now we have Christ the King Sunday, but what really does that even mean?
In the modern world “kings” occur way less often. The idea of one person ruling a country or region sounds more like a dictator than a good ruler or politician. And for me, I hear such terminology and am called back to the middle ages kings and queens, living in a feudal system, often based on intimidation and violence.
I prefer to think that’s not what this Sunday is about.
A pastor friend of mine spoke of Christ the King Sunday as a time when Christians remember how the Christian faith ultimately disrupts any form of government we know; how with Christ, “the last shall be first, and the first shall be last” (Matthew 20:16). Capitalism is turned on its head, money no longer the fundamental goal, where “the poor” are those closest to God, while those of us with multiple degrees and good intentions are farther away.
If the goal of Christ the King Sunday is to subvert our human ideas of what it means to live as one people, let’s say Americans, what might be a better theologically pertinent term?
Well, for me, it’s Christ the Drag Queen.
Drag Queens are diverse and intersectional, and basically all the things. Here’s a general definition from wiki… I tried to find others from more reputable sources, but honestly most of them were pretty problematic in terms of the heteronormativity and sexist terminology, so this is what you get.
A drag queen is a person, usually male, who dresses in clothing of the opposite sex and often acts with exaggerated femininity and in feminine gender roles for the purpose of entertainment or fashion.
Obviously, it’s more complicated than that, but we’ll work with this definition for now. How might Jesus Christ be similar to a drag queen?
Philippians 2:7c talks about Jesus “being made in human likeness.” John 1:14 talks about how the “Word became flesh.” Leaving aside the whole debate of Jesus being fully human and fully God, Jesus put on humanity, dressing as that which he was not and then becoming the ultimate ideal of humanity. Just like a Drag Queen puts on her bras and spanx and bright lipstick and fake eyelashes, Jesus put on the form of a human.
I do not mean that “feminine” is as far from ideal as God is from human, rather I seek to point to the effort and enjoyment that goes into putting on that which you are not for the sake of joy… which is why I hope Drag Queens do what they do—to experience joy.
Most of us also think of Drag Queens as entertainers. Folks who enjoy living in a potentially exaggerated female persona, are often more traditionally “feminine” than many women, including myself.
Similarly, I like to think that Jesus was more human than any other human in existence. I don’t mean more homo sapiens than any other, I mean more compassionate, loving, understanding, more seeking towards truth than any other human. Just as the Drag Queen lives out an idealized feminine persona, Jesus lives out the ideal human life.
Likewise, until recently, those who govern us were not the main source of entertainment (we’ll just leave Donald Trump to the wayside for now #sorrynotsorry). Going on a stage and performing is an extremely vulnerable and courageous act, knowing that the audience could hate your performance, your style, your voice.
This is how Christ the Drag Queen works in terms of subverting any and all governmental systems. Jesus willingly becomes human, becoming vulnerable to emotional and physical pain, to loss, hatred and bitterness, and possible rejection from the very folks Jesus came to love.
Christ as the Drag Queen subverts patriarchy, the traditionally male performer putting on the feminine persona for joy’s sake rather than duty or derision.
Finally, Christ the Drag Queen is a perfect modern term for this liturgical day in the way that the very idea of a Drag Queen messes with any binary/dualistic thinking. We westerners so often like to see things as black and white, as a and not b, for acannot be not a and b cannot be not b. There is only one answer, one truth. And Christ the Drag Queen challenges that in a fabulous way. The path may be narrow (Matthew 7:13), but it sure does have a lot of on-ramps. Galatians 3:28 says, “There is no Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” In Christ there is no binary, and thus a genderqueer Drag Queen provides a magnificent metaphor for the Christian story.
So, I challenge you on this Christ the King Sunday to not let yourself be tugged into patriarchy, where yet again the maleness of God is thrust in the face of women (pun intended), where there is just a or b rather than the whole freaking alphabet and beyond.
Rather, accept the invitation to a God who is so much more than we can imagine, who shows up where we never thought She could be, who put on the clothes of humanity, showed us the ideal human, and then vulnerably asked for love in return.