Drag Shows, Twerking, and Transgender Student Housing at the Jesuit’s Seattle U.

2019-01-09T21:49:11+00:00January 9th, 2019|Blog, The Church|

According to Seattle University’s “Transgender, Gender Non-Conforming and Non Binary Inclusive Housing Policy,” eligibility for student housing is determined not by biological sex but gender identity. In addition, students have the opportunity to: “Correct their gender identity, name, and pronouns…”

Jesuit-run colleges, including Seattle University, have a history of affirming transgender students as well as tolerating such public events as student drag shows. Bryan Massingale, a professor of theology at the Jesuit’s Fordham University, stated the following during his presentation at the 2018 Los Angeles Religious Education Congress on the Catholic Church and transgenderism:

So, what do we do when we don’t understand? It means the Catholic Church is all over the board on this. It means if you go to Holy Rosary College, and you transition as a student, they will welcome you with open arms, and the campus ministry will accept you and they will provide housing and accommodations. Or you go to Saint Kundykunda’s, try not to pick anybody…and you transition, you can be expelled. Because that’s the kind of place we are at right now because the Catholic Church is in a period of discernment as we are trying to understand what we don’t understand.

In 2018, at Seattle University, the women’s rugby team performed at the University’s drag show where female team members, dressed in cowboy gear and thongs, twerked in front of a screaming audience. Similar events featuring male performers have repeatedly taken place at Seattle U.

Also in 2018, an “indecent” photograph from the drag show appeared in the University’s newspaper. In his response to criticism about the photo, Seattle U.’s President Stephen Sundborg, S.J., said:

I allow the drag show…But then to go and show that pose—indecent pose—from a drag show on the cover is taking it too far.

[Apparently, Sundborg was not upset about the show, the performance, or the photograph – just that the photo was published.]

At the Jesuit’s University of San Francisco, prior to the University’s 2017 “Drag Ball,” the campus “Queer Alliance” offered a tutorial on “how to tuck and bind safely.” Tucking refers to a practice known among the transgender and drag communities involving the concealment of the penis and testicles between the legs, sometimes requiring the insertion of the testes up into the inguinal canals. Binding pertains to the forcible flattening out of the female breasts, occasionally through the use of elastic straps, in order to create a flat-chested male appearance.

Also in Seattle, the Jesuit-run parish of St. Joseph Catholic Church hosts an LGBTQ Ministry which openly promotes dissent and same-sex marriage. On July 7, 2017, James Martin S.J. posted on his Facebook page a response from John D. Whitney, S.J., Pastor at St. Joseph Catholic Parish, to Archbishop Chaput’s review of Martin’s book “Building a Bridge: How the Catholic Church and the LGBT Community Can Enter into a Relationship of Respect, Compassion, and Sensitivity,” as well as the Archbishop’s understanding of Biblical condemnations regarding homosexual activity. Whitney wrote:

I appreciate that Archbishop Chaput enters into the dialogue, but I am intrigued, as well, by both the translation he uses (not the NABR, published by the Bishops) and by the sections he omits. Paul, a man of his times and circumstances, was clearly connecting the idolatry of the pagan world to the sexual behaviors that often accompanied it. Ritualized homosexuality and pederasty are significantly different from the loving and mutually chosen relationships of many committed gays and lesbians. It is for this very reason that the Church faces a deep call to moral examination and discernment: pederasty, hedonism, ritual and non-consensual sexuality are clearly contrary to the freedom of Jesus Christ. But, what we see today is something else, something not so easily answered by St. Paul’s words or those of Leviticus. We must dialogue, because we must discern–from the experience of real people as well as the historical understanding of the Church. When bad people act badly, that we can condemn; but when people who express great virtue in many ways experience attractions we had previously associated with evil, we must ask if our association has not been based on a false premise. 

Whitney was also the former Provincial for The Society of Jesus, Oregon Province. In 2011, the Oregon Province settled priest sex abuse claims for $166 million as part of their bankruptcy proceedings. In 2018, it was revealed that the current Bishop of the neighboring Diocese of Spokane, Thomas Daly, was not informed by the Jesuits that unsupervised priests credibly accused of sexual abuse resided at Gonzaga University.

The Jesuits oversee numerous parishes with highly-affirmative LGBT ministries; most notably in BaltimoreBoston, Detroit, New York City, San Francisco, TacomaToronto, the Dioceses of Raleigh, and Charlotte.

One Comment

  1. Fran Macadam January 9, 2019 at 11:20 pm - Reply

    Discernment, they have none; their dialogue is no more than acceptance of their monologue.

Leave A Comment