Emory University's gay pride organization called "Emory Pride" concluded the end of their Pride Month celebration in October with an annual drag show at Glenn Memorial Chapel, a Methodist church that has ties to the Georgia university. The group holds Pride Month every October and this year, it decided to hold the show at the Georgia Methodist church.
"There is something very subversive about hosting a drag show at a church, especially a Methodist church like Glenn Memorial," Tommy Greenler, a senior who attends Emory University, told Campus Reform. He hosted the show while dressed in drag as his stage persona "Pam." He also hosted the event in 2018 and 2019.
Greenler lamented that the United Methodist Churches "has officially adopted some anti-LGBT stances in recent years, but I think it says a lot about Glenn Memorial as an individual church that it has continued to welcome the drag show in their space."
Meanwhile, Emory Pride president Layla Aberman told the Emory University's school paper, "Drag has provided a space for queer expression when homophobia, transphobia and racism make the world unsafe. Drag is about family."
Aside from the drag show at Georgia Methodist Church, the event also showcased hip hop dance performances and a costume contest. Church podums were also outfitted with transgender and gay pride flags for the event that celebrated Gay History Month.
Emory University students were enticed to attend and participate in the festivities, which had a $270 prize, most of which was cash. While there were no paid tickets required at the door, attendees were encouraged to make a $20 doination to a gay advocacy organization.
According to the Christian Headlines, Glenn Memorial Chapel has long been supportive of gay rights and advocacy. Its lead pastor, Mark Westmoreland, is known to have disagreed with the United Methodist Church to push for traditional marriage.
Westmoreland previously wrote to the Emory Wheel's editor, "Glenn Memorial and our many allies continue to stand and work with our LGBTQ siblings for full rights and rites. I know change is coming, and I believe it is coming soon."
While the thought of a drag show being held at a Georgia Methodist church may come off as odd to some, Greenler said that there were no objections to the event being held in a church in the last three years that he hosted the event. While he did "hear some concerns about the presence of religious imagery in the church" during the event, it did not disrupt the festivities. He added that it was "an opportunity for Glenn Memorial to show solidarity with the LGBT community despite the UMC's official stance."
Glenn Memorial's affirmation and support of the LGBT community is apparent on their website as well, which features over 1,200 words on "racial justice" and "LGBTQI+ inclusion," a page that encourages members of the congregation to participate in Atlanta's 2021 gay pride parade.