Although a gay-friendly Catholic church in The City’s Castro neighborhood is receiving heat for allegedly banning drag queens from all future events on its premises, church officials are saying that while they opposed the idea at first, they quickly changed their minds.
Members of the Castro Country Club, an LGBT addiction recovery group, say the new pastor of Most Holy Redeemer Catholic Church told them they could not hold their third annual Harvest Feast fundraiser on the premises if drag queens were to participate.
And although church Business Manager Michael Poma acknowledged that Pastor Brian Costello did tell members of the Castro Country Club that they could not hold their event if drag queens were scheduled to attend, Poma said he quickly reversed his decision.
“Father Brian wasn’t educated about the importance of drag queens in the gay community,” Poma said. “Once it was explained to him, he said they were welcome to attend as long as their behavior was church-appropriate.”
Church officials now say the new policy is not a prohibition against drag queens, but rather an end to all one-time events that do not originate at the church. Poma said the ban applies to all outside events — gay or straight — including weddings, parties or fundraisers. The church is still planning to hold its own events, including 12-step programs, suppers for the homeless and AIDS support groups.
“This is not a ban on drag queens or an insult to the gay community whatsoever,” Poma said. “In the church hall there have been issues with weddings and other groups, so we decided to put an end to them altogether. We are part of the community here and to think that we’re banning drag queens is obnoxious and ridiculous.”
However, Castro Country Club members seem to be viewing the new policy as an intentional slight.
“In previous years, we have had Ivy Drip and Heklina, both well-known entertainers and community fundraisers, serve as emcees of the event, and we felt we could not in good conscience abide by the new policies,” the club’s board said in a statement to the Bay Area Reporter.
The ban on outside events was scheduled to go into effect at the end of September, but was pushed forward after the church consulted with the San Francisco Archdiocese. Although the Bay Area Reporter suggested Salvatore Cordileone, who is set to be the next archbishop, made the decision, the archdiocese insists it was completely up to the parish.
“The new archbishop has absolutely no authority until Oct. 4 when he takes over,” Archdiocese spokesman George Wesolek said. “I’m pretty sure he didn’t even hear about this issue until now.”
Wesolek said there have been several events on the premises that were not “church-appropriate.” The San Francisco Gay Softball League allegedly held an event consisting of men stripping and simulating sex acts.