Jesuitical 11: Jesuits and Drag Shows

Thursday, July 22, AD 2010

Hattip to Creative Minority Report.  Strong content advisory as to the video at the top of this post.

 Part 11 of my ongoing survey of the follies of many modern day Jesuits.  Santa Clara University, a Jesuit University in Santa Clara California, describes its mission:   “As a Jesuit, Catholic university, we are committed to faith-inspired values and educating leaders of competence, conscience, and compassion who will help fashion a more just, humane, and sustainable world.”   

Santa Clara, I assume as part of that mission, has long hosted annual drag shows on campus hosted by a recognized student group sophomorically calling itself GASP (Gay and Straight People for the Education of Diversity).  Here  the group is listed under the Women’s and Gender Studies Program of the Santa Clara website.   The video at the start of the post was taken at the 2010 drag show.

These events are not obscure affairs, but are celebrated on campus.  Here is a story about the 2007 drag show which appeared in The Santa Clara, the official student newspaper:

May GASPED and GALA have your attention, ladies and gentlemen — or ladies dressed as gentlemen — or gentlemen dressed as ladies? The 6th annual Santa Clara Drag Show will be breaking down gender stereotypes left and right, say participants and organizers, tomorrow, May 4, at 8 p.m. in the California Mission Room.

Downstairs Benson Center will be transformed into an eccentric staging area full of students dressed in drag. Along with the usual lip-syncs and dances, there will be some new elements that organizers hope might make you think.

Representatives from Gay & Straight People for the Education of Diversity and Gay and Lesbian Alliance, as well as from Santa Clara Community Action Program, say they have worked hard to ensure that this year’s show incorporates more elements of education about the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender/transsexual/two-spirited and queer/questioning communities. This year, skits and interviews about the history of transgender prejudice that will be incorporated into the show.

Though James Servino, program coordinator of GASPED, said Santa Clara has a history of support for the LGBTQ community, the support is not absolute. “Santa Clara students are aloof to this community unless they actually know and associate with a gay or lesbian person,” he said.

Go here to read the rest.  I think for many Jesuit centers of higher learning in this country, their dissent from Church teaching has entered the arena of self-parody.  In the case of Santa Clara University none of this is surprising considering the views of Father Michael Zampelli who was recently named rector, as reported by the California Catholic Daily:


“Currently, Father Zampelli is working on papers exploring Jesuit performance dynamics, Jesuit attitudes toward the professional theatre, and the theatre’s spiritual functions — particularly in the lives of LGBT people and those consistently marginalized by mainstream religions,” says Fr. Zampelli’s biographical page on the university’s website.

In 2004, Fr. Zampelli directed the play “Stop Kiss” at the university. The drama is about two women who start out as friends and end up being lovers, and are attacked when they share their first kiss in public, injuring one so seriously she falls into a coma. “The play is timely in terms of the human issues that it raises,” said Fr. Zampelli. “How does a person discover who she is? How does a person learn to love? How does a person come to understand how she is to live her life? … In the current cultural climate that problematizes particular kinds of relationships, ‘Stop Kiss’ gives us a place to think about ‘the things that really matter.'”

On October 26, 2005, at an SCU seminar titled “Is Tolerance Enough: Catholic Universities and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Issues,” Fr. Zampelli expanded on the theme of “problematizing particular kinds of relationships.” He said, “Those of us who identify as lgbtq have a particular fix on the world, and what we have come to understand about ourselves, our society, our religions, our scholarly disciplines, from this particular perspective makes an invaluable contribution to the store of knowledge.”

Tolerance of homosexuality in the priesthood, said Fr. Zampelli, “must be a temporary state of affairs that includes an acknowledgement that we are ‘on the road,’ that understanding more and becoming more understanding takes time.”

Fr. Zampelli also suggested that homosexuality must be celebrated, not just tolerated. “In this case, tolerance is unacceptable,” he said. “Why? Because, I believe deeply (along with Paul in Corinthians) that ‘I am what I am by the grace of God.’ And I believe that I have particular gifts deriving precisely from this blessed but marginalized way of being in the world. What I see clearly now is my own desire: I want to be a subject sought out and valued.”

Go here to read the rest.  Parents who pay $30,000 a year to Santa Clara to educate their offspring, in the misguided belief that what they will get there bears any relationship to Catholicism, have my sincere condolences.


Other entries in the Jesuitical series:

1.    Jesuitical

2.    Jesuitical 2

3.    Jesuitical 3: Of Jesuits and Donatists

4.    Jesuitical 4

5.    Jesuitical 5: Obama as “the Spirit of Vatican II” President

6.    Jesuitical 6: Latin is so pre-Vatican II.

7.    Jesuitical 7: Jesuits and Polarization

8.    Jesuitical 8: I am Shocked! Shocked!

9.    Jesuitical 9: Marquette and Dave Barry

10.  Jesuitical 10: Campion Award to the Archbishop of Canterbury


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