The Imprint of the Divine
This past weekend my father visited to see his grandchildren’s school plays. This got him reflecting on plays he’d seen over the years, including plays at his all-male high school in New York City. He recalled one friend who’d played Ophelia in Hamlet. Was this a shocking thing for a young man to play a female character in a Shakespeare play? Of course not…it was an all-boy’s school! And of course, theatre has always held a fluid perspective on gender, especially when considering who’s playing what part.
The anti-drag law in Tennessee recently passed isn’t about performance or expression, though of course it casts great limits on each. Rather, it is a brazen attempt to enforce homophobia and criminalize trans and queer people in public spaces. Whenever we create laws that are hateful and violent, the hate and the violence are really the point, more so than any supposed cultural values that are espoused.
More to the point, such laws are bricks in a wall designed to wish away the lived reality of gender diversity and the free expression that allows us to celebrate the human beings God created each of us to be. It is of course a wedge issue that uses a marginalized community to generate political power, which is itself sinful. Yet it also misrepresents drag performance – very broadly defined– as a greater warrant for legal discrimination. And we all know the cost and the pain of legalized discrimination.
The Beloved Community envisions no such barriers; in God’s kin-dom there are no laws that would normalize and enforce the diminishing of others. Rather, our call as Christians is to celebrate the dignity of every human being, for in our diversity and our freedom we find the imprint of the divine.