“Preaching in drag is a theological reflection on joy: Joy overflows so abundantly, it can’t help but make itself known,” Musser, who is a pastor-in-training, wrote in a Facebook post advertising the event, which was called “A Dress Rehearsal for Joy.” He encouraged all who came to dress in the clothes that made them feel like the best version of themselves. Musser read from a children’s book called Joy by Corrinne Averiss.
“Today, we consider what it might be like to have a dress rehearsal for the kind of joy awaiting us on the other side of Advent,” Musser wrote following the event, in which he wore a long white dress and a wig. “It’s been so hard to know what that joy will be, because it’s been so long since some of us have been joyful. It’s been a difficult and tiring couple of years,” Musser wrote in a Facebook post following the sermon.
“And I decided instead of telling you, ‘This is how I want you to be joyful,’ as we prepare for this dress rehearsal, “ he continued. “I figured I would instead put on a dress as so many who have inspired me have done. I decided to follow their example, showing that liberation from oppressive laws clears a path for joy.” Musser added that allowing yourself to feel joy can be “scary,” and that he wasn’t sure how people would react to him in drag.
“Joy is difficult to fee; it’ss vulnerable,” he wrote. “But isn’t it so beautiful?”
In a video clip of the service as shared by the Post Millennial, Musser encourages children to gather around before he begins to read from Joy. “Have any of you ever seen a drag queen?” Musser asks the children. “No? So, is it everybody’s first time ever seeing a drag queen? Well, hello. I am also a boy most of the time when I’m here, but today, I’m a girl.” Thankfully, people are heard clapping and making murmurs of affirmation in the background.
It seems the congregation was largely supportive, with Facebook comments celebrating Musser’s event as well. Sadly, it seems right-wing trolls have nothing better to do than attack folks who are literally reading to kids during a pandemic, and so the church closed comments on that Facebook post, explaining: “We’ve frozen comments on this post for the time being. We appreciate all the love and encourage you to keep praying for full inclusion, affirmation, and justice for LGBTQIA+ people in the church.”
As an openly gay person myself, I cannot imagine the impact this sort of event might have had on me as a kid. I was raised in a religious household (Catholic) and this simply would not have flown at my local church, to put it lightly. Religion can be a source of enormous pain and trauma for many queer people (and people in general, really) but it can also provide incredible healing, community, and camaraderie. If events like this help people become better allies, that’s great. But it’s even better if events like this help show queer folks—and especially young queer people—they’re not cast out from joy just because of who they are.
You can watch some clips from the event below on YouTube, as well.