Catholic Church | Drag Queens | Religion | San Francisco

Catholic Church In The Castro Bans Drag Queens

MostHolyRedeemerChurchIn 2006, Most Holy Redeemer Catholic Church -- a charming little house of worship just two and a half blocks from The Castro Theatre, and even closer to The Sausage Factory -- laid down the law: No more Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. The Sisters had been running bingo games at the church, the proceeds from which went to charity, and some of the congregants seem to have hated it. At the time, the parish council president called the Sisters' very existence a "direct affront to Jesus," and likened their use of church facilities to "using a Jewish space to host an Adolf Hitler look-alike contest."

But it was just the Sisters who were banned. People in drag not impersonating nuns were, in theory, still welcome. Now they'e not

So learned the Castro Country Club, a queer recovery group, when they were planning their annual Harvest Ball fundraiser at the church -- an event always emceed by drag queens, and until now held happily in Most Holy Redeemer's social hall. But this year the San Francisco Archdiocese has a new Archbishop, and Most Holy Redeemer has a new pastor, Rev. Brian Costello. From the Bay Area Reporter:

Costello said that during a telephone conversation with a Castro Country Club representative, when the topic of drag queens came up, he told the person, "That is not going to work under the present circumstances."

"I said work with me. You can still have the dinner. You can have a regular emcee, but not drag queens on church property," Costello said.

Costello says the order comes directly from the Archbishop: he will allow no drag queens on church property, ever. If that's true, it's silly, because Archbishops like to dress like this:

Pallium archbishops


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  1. This is disappointing. Most Holy Redeemer was my parish, and it bills itself as an inclusive spiritual home in the heart of the Castro. And it was. The previous pastor was always able to walk the line between having an open and inclusive parish and following the Archdiocese's mandates. But with a new archbishop and a new pastor, the parish isn't the same anymore.

    This parish held some of the earliest AIDS Support Groups and was home to one of the first AIDS hospices. It opened its doors to LGBT groups who needed a space to hold fundraisers and is still the meeting site of many LGBT-focused substance abuse recovery meetings.

    Most Holy Redeemer, previously, provided a home to the outcasts of society, in much the same was as Christ did and has asked us to do. Despite the Vatican's teachings, Most Holy Redeemer preached love, compassion, and acceptance and encouraged parishioners to live out a life in service to one another. It seems the Vatican has forgotten that "sola fide" is not a Catholic concept. But the current Pope has been preaching that concept and ignoring centuries of Church teachings that faith alone is not justification for salvation. Unfortunately, the Church hierarchy seems bent on destroying groups (the Leadership Conference of Women Religious included) that seek to live lives according to Christ's teachings.


    Posted by: John | Aug 12, 2012 2:15:29 PM

  2. They rented the facilities in the past...thereby supporting the RCC's homophobic endeavors. No difference than having Chick-Fil-A cater an LGBT party.

    Posted by: chuck | Aug 12, 2012 2:19:14 PM

  3. I can only look at that picture and laugh at the thought of the bishops facing down the Sisters of Perp Indulgence. Who's kidding who?

    Posted by: seriously? | Aug 12, 2012 2:19:55 PM

  4. The more people who realize that the church doesn't like them the better.

    Posted by: ludsa | Aug 12, 2012 2:45:22 PM

  5. The Sisters of Perpetual Infection have a God-given right to go into the Catholic Church during services anytime they wish; to be disruptive, disrespectful, and dressed to mock Catholicism.

    They also have the right to use the hypocritical faggot media as their own little personal tool to cry pretend persecution, giving our enemies every reasonable justification in the world to hate us as much as we hate them.

    This is how "progress" is made, by constant deception, hypocrisy, and disrespect !

    Posted by: LITTLEKIWI | Aug 12, 2012 3:24:08 PM

  6. Every business in the Castro - hell in the city - that considers gays and lesbians to be full human beings should retaliate by simply posting pictures of Mr. Costello & Mr. Cordileone with the simple message "Do not serve." The Rabbi Jesus of Nazareth said that you should treat others as you'd like to be treated. The leadership of the Catholic Church has made it clear how they expect to be treated by those who believe in equality - with disdain & disrespect. We should meet their expectations.

    Posted by: CPT_Doom | Aug 12, 2012 3:29:21 PM

  7. If they were this aggressive about purging pedophiles from their church, they'd be paying a lot less in court fees and settlements.

    Posted by: Roscoe | Aug 12, 2012 3:41:42 PM

  8. When I lived in SF, I often patronized coffee shops in the Castro. They were nice places to meet people and kick back and read a book, have a cup of coffee, socialize with friends...

    On MANY occasions Sisters would wander in, in full clown regalia, often desperate to be the center of attention.

    On MANY occasions, they would butt in on conversations I and my friends would be immersed in, make rude remarks, interrupt and disrupt our conversations with their opinions, which they would offer based on their often misunderstanding the contexts and details which they weren't there to hear from the beginning of the conversations.

    I've seen them spit on gay people, yell, and behave in a generally awful manner.

    So, yeah, I can see why ANY church would want to avoid their type of "activism" and attention whore seeking behaviore.

    There's no reason why people who are basically COWARDLY and who HIDE behind Halloween makeup should be taken seriously, and I refuse to even engage someone that is so chickencrap that they are AFRAID to show their face.

    Posted by: BuckieWeston | Aug 12, 2012 3:49:39 PM

  9. I don't think that you can seriously compare the The Sisters, who HIDE their faces with clown makeup, with people who don't HIDE their faces.

    So, no, this "issue" is childish and a fine example of hypocrisy. The Sisters do some pretty awful things, and they do them by HIDING their faces.

    They're cowards.

    Posted by: Frankie | Aug 12, 2012 3:54:49 PM

  10. It's like sticking your finger in a hornets nest and then crying because you got stung. They're bigots, WHY would they host bingo in the Catholic church? Sometimes the stupidity of this community of breathtaking.

    Posted by: D.R.H. | Aug 12, 2012 4:52:46 PM

  11. Though I haven't always been pleased with all of the Sisters' antics, they are simply a charitable organization that reinterprets the camp of Catholicism. My personal experiences with the Sisters over my decade here in the SF have always been positive, and straight families happily take their kids to their annual Easter Egg hunt in Dolores Park. You don't need to be afraid of them.

    Posted by: MonkeyPuzzle | Aug 12, 2012 5:15:03 PM

  12. Who said they were afraid of the Sisters ?

    Who's afraid of clowns ?

    Posted by: WeDontNeedToLieToWin | Aug 12, 2012 6:13:13 PM

  13. From Federico Fellini's movie, Roma, I give you Exhibit A, "The Presentation of Ecclesiastical Fashions":

    No one can outdo the drag creations that the guys who run the Catholic Church wear.

    Posted by: Artie_in_Lauderdale | Aug 12, 2012 6:29:16 PM

  14. Drag acts are degrading to women and to gay men. They are a remnant of the past. Most of the people defending this self-debasement are older people who have an attachment to it born of nostalgia. For younger people, the "Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence" are a pathetic joke.

    We are members of our communities. We have families and lots of friends. We are respected by others and we respect ourselves as gay people. We don't have to prance around like obscene court jesters to feel important.

    Can't wait for the last aging Sister to croak. It will be as joyful an occasion as when Jerry Falwell kicked the bucket.

    Posted by: Tom | Aug 12, 2012 6:30:42 PM

  15. For all of you haters of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence: SPI is a worldwide performance art drag protest organized into a loosely bound group of orders, most of which are non-profit, charitable organizations.

    The San Francisco chapter of The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence has raised and distributed over $1,000,000.00 to other non-profit organizations such as Faithful Fools which provides dental work to the homeless, Camp fYerfly which is an LGBTQ camp for queer youth, SF Woman Against Rape, Tenderloin Tessie which is a holiday meals program, Gay Men's Health Summit, and on and on and on...

    What have *you* done for the less fortunate lately?

    Posted by: peterparker | Aug 12, 2012 7:06:55 PM

  16. "We are members of our communities. We have families and lots of friends. We are respected by others and we respect ourselves as gay people. We don't have to prance around like obscene court jesters to feel important."

    Sounds like SOME young gay people respect themselves only as pretend-straight people and have very little respect for the kind of people who fought to let them assimilate.

    Posted by: KevinVT | Aug 12, 2012 8:06:00 PM

  17. I am SO sick of reading about the bigotry of the Catholic church. The hostility and out and out hatred this "religion" bears to anyone who doesn't subserviently obey is sickening. I am SO glad I am no longer a part of this slimy bunch of crooks, hate-mongers, and hypocrites. We are going to Italy in a couple of weeks and I refure to go anywhere NEAR the Vatican and contribute, in any way, to its perpetuating its perverted ideology.

    Posted by: JeffB | Aug 12, 2012 9:00:24 PM

  18. Looked into this more and find it interesting that Castro Country Club didn't book any number of other venues in the Castro.

    The church, as a religious organization, is like a private club. It is under no obligation to accommodate everyone.

    Posted by: Guy | Aug 12, 2012 10:32:06 PM

  19. @PeterParker:

    If a group of people want to get together to raise money for charity, they don't need to paint their faces white and dress up as nuns with dildos around their necks to do so. There isn't any justification for the minstrelsy of this group. They supposedly were about attacking the Catholics but in reality they debased and insulted and hurt gay people.

    For decades, the "Sisters" have been featured in a variety of anti-gay videos, websites and printed literature. People who know little about gay people, or who might be on the fence, take one look at the depravity of this group and they support the anti-gay side. And this has been going on since the 1980s. The so-called Sisters are the gift that keeps on giving to the anti-gay side. And the warped, selfish, attention-whores that make up this group have never cared. They just carry on with their vileness, however many gay kids it might wind up hurting.

    Screw them. If I believed in a hell, I'd say screw them to hell.

    Posted by: Sere | Aug 12, 2012 11:17:21 PM

  20. The happiest day of 2012 was when "Sister Boom Boom" dropped dead. How does someone spend a lifetime degrading gay people in order to satisfy his craving for attention? These people send a terrible message to gay kids about what it means to be gay and how gay people conduct themselves in their communities.

    The sooner the rest of these Stepnfetchits retire to a cave or a mental hospital, the better it will get for gay and lesbian youth.

    Posted by: Phil | Aug 12, 2012 11:28:29 PM

  21. "peterparker" :

    Who said they hate them ?

    They're ridiculous, cowardly clowns that hide behind masks.

    They should have stuck with what they were doing back in the late 70's - encouraging people to STOP spreading STD's.

    Posted by: WeDontNeedToLieToWin | Aug 13, 2012 2:00:08 AM

  22. Wait to the flock discovers that MOTHER NATURE IS GOD IN DRAG!

    Posted by: Jerry Pritikin aka The Bleacher Preacher | Aug 13, 2012 2:30:13 AM

  23. They wouldn't have let Francis Spellman in? Such short memories!

    Posted by: Gene Touchet | Aug 13, 2012 9:48:02 AM

  24. So what does it mean o dress in drag? it's an act a parody right? Why must folks carry an act into Church? I completely get a transgender person going along with his/her identity. But I don't get our insistence to overact in church. Be yourself and focus in the reason you're going to church in the first place. We aren't right all the time and this is one of those times.

    Posted by: Gast | Aug 13, 2012 11:10:02 AM

  25. Oddball parts of our community aren't the problem... our infighting is. Seems like nearly every story lately, on this and a number of other LGBT blogs, degenerates into a kind of "Us Gays vs. Those Gays" crap. When gay men fight about drag, it's really just a thinly encoded version of the "effeminate vs. masculine" false dichotomy that has tragically seized our community in the last few years (in which one side argues that masculine gay men are somehow in denial of their sexuality, while the other asserts that effeminate / flamboyant gay men are a kind of PR liability for the community). How about we all just *be ourselves* (whomever that might be), while being open to others unlike ourselves...

    Oh, and there's a priceless irony in a series of comments that slams the Sisters and other drag performers as attention whores... and then implies that the gay community should consist only of that which will make mainstream society "like us".

    Posted by: Reilly | Aug 13, 2012 11:44:46 AM

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