Rev Craig Duke makes a sensational appearance in HBO's new 'We're Here' series
IN three, two, one … shrieks of “blasphemy” and “sacrilege.” For at the start of season 2 of HBO’s drag show, We’re Here, Duke above, of the United Methodist Church in Newburgh, Indiana, conducts a brief service in white robe, then sheds it to reveal a fabulous frock, boots with four inch heels – and an oversized sparkly crucifix.
To roars of applause he then lip-sychs Ke$ha’s “We Are Who We Are.”
The new season of We’re Here, filmed this summer in Evansville (population 117,817) premiered on November 8, and is attracting an enormous amount of publicity, thanks to the participation of Duke.
The Courier Press reports that the minister agreed to take part in the show for two reasons: God’s “unconditional love” and the fact that his 23-year-old daughter Tiffany identifies as pansexual
There are very few people of faith saying anything truthful about how God feels about gay people.
Tiffany added her father’s performance was:
A positive experience for my family and those around us. I’m just really thankful they chose my dad.
Duke told Religion News Service:
It was an incredibly wonderful, refreshing, deepening, powerful spiritual experience. I was surrounded and immersed in a culture that I’ve never been immersed in, and one of the things in ministry, if you want to involve people different than yourself in your ministry, you have to go to where people different than you are. The invitation to be part of the show allowed me that.
Duke had never heard of the HBO show before he was contacted by Evansville’s Pride board, asking if he’d be interested in participating.
While he’d performed in theatre in his younger years, he said, he’d never performed in drag – something he described as way outside his comfort zone.
The United Methodist Church is currently deadlocked over the inclusion of its LGBTQ members, including whether LGBTQ United Methodists can be ordained and whether clergy can perform same-sex marriages.
United Methodist leaders introduced a proposal to split the denomination ahead of the 2020 meeting of its global decision-making body, the General Conference. But that meeting — as well as any action on the proposal — already has been postponed twice by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Duke’s “drag mother” was Eureka O’Hara, above. O’Hara was raised Southern Baptist in east Tennessee who said:
I’m such a spiritual person and I do believe in God. For a long time, I hated myself and who I was because I had been taught my entire life that I was going to burn in hell, and that I was a horrible person.
I think it’s really hard for queer people to get past the trauma that was inflicted on them by people in the church growing up. Being treated like a monster and being mistreated, it’s unfair.
Duke said he also hopes anybody who identifies as LGBTQ or who is wrestling with their sexuality will take away from the episode that “God really does love you for who you are, period.”
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