God Hates Drag

Unless you are a heathen, you are probably familiar with the classics: Romans 1:26-27, 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, Genesis 19, and of course Leviticus 18:22 and Leviticus 20:13. In addition to endorsing incest, these passages from the Good Book have long been used to oppress gays and lesbians.

But the Bible is full of treasures, and while reading a (sadly, secular) book called Solomon Gursky Was Here I was alerted to another one (p. 230-231):

One evening Mr. Nicholson, having quite forgotten his wife’s presence, covered Ephraim’s hand with his own to guide him in a penmanship exercise. Ephraim, fully aware that she was there, contrived to draw his head closer to Mr. Nicholson, their cheeks blushing. Mrs. Nicholson spoke out: ” ‘The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman’s garment: for all that do so are an abomination unto the Lord thy God.’ ”

Mr. Nicholson’s eyes filled with tears. His lower lip trembled. “That will be sufficient for today, boy. Now you run along and see that you make yourself useful to Mrs. Nicholson.”

The young Ephraim Gursky is learning to read and write from the kindly Mr. Nicholson, who just happens to have the hots for his teenaged student. (For some reason, nearly everybody — man or woman — who runs into the young Ephraim Gursky develops the hots for him.) Mrs. Nicholson, wise to her husband’s unnatural desires, recites the above passage, which I had never heard of before. But sure enough, it’s Deuteronomy 22:5. Most of you are more Biblically literate than I am, and have probably run into this passage before. It was completely new to me, particularly in the context of oppressing the LGBTQ+ community. In my defence, Deuteronomy is not exactly the most plot-driven book of the Bible. But in all my years of living in this wretched state, you would think somebody would have thrown these verses around even once? Am I really that oblivious?

The context of this quotation is so weird. As far as I could tell, Mr. Nicholson was dressed in a perfectly masculine manner: pressed J. Crew slacks, Derek Rose boxers, maybe a nice button down shirt from the Gap, socks from one of those monthly buying clubs they advertise during podcasts. Yet Mrs Nicholson pulls out these verses, and not Leviticus or Genesis 19 or any of the other greatest hits. This scene was set in the 1830s or 1840s. Is that how people of the day oppressed homosexuals? Surely they had access to the classics too. It is entirely possible that the author was being intentional about the Bible verse being off-target, but I did not catch the significance. Or maybe Mr. Nicholson wore an earring in that ear? That could explain the verse for sure.

Even if these verses were off-topic ammunition for homosexuality, they make God’s opinion of crossdressing pretty clear. Aren’t there all kinds of Drag Queen Storytime events that make evangelicals itchy? Strictly speaking, these verses would not have been appropriate fodder for discriminating against transgender people, given that transwomen are women and thus presumably should wear women’s clothing, but lots of drag queens are cisgendered. Also, some women wear trousers and some men wear War Paint makeup. There are lots of targets for this particular verse.

The more I think about it, the more strongly I feel that I have just been oblivious. But now I am aware, and you are too. Let us all be very careful the next time we tune into catty Drag Race recaps on Maddie’s blog, or the next time Sixpence posts some charming video of a genderbending country music star giving us a tour of his tiny New York City apartment. Also let’s remember that clothing is strictly gendered, and be careful to abide by those gender rules. We would not want to jeopardize our immortal souls.

11 thoughts on “God Hates Drag

    1. That’s a tough one. Finding star-spangled Speedos should be easy enough, and I bet you could get some studly red knee-high work boots, but it gets more difficult from there. You might be able to modify some Roman plate armor in place of the bustier. But I think the Bracelets of Submission and the tiara are going to be a stretch.

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  1. Perhaps Mr Nicholson was wearing frilly women’s panties under his otherwise male attire, the same way that Ed Wood (the infamous D-movie director) had worn frilly women’s panties under his GI uniform when storming the beaches of Normandy in World War II. He said that, while afraid of the Nazis shooting at him, he was more afraid of his fellow American soldiers who he knew would kill him for sure if he was discovered.

    Also, remember that Joan of Arc was burnt at the stake because of the heretical crimes of “witchcraft” and “wearing male clothing,” not leading a revolt against established authority or anything.

    Good thing we know nowadays that the Bible is full of shit. I’ve happily cross-dressed all my life!

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    1. Do you read Uptonking’s blog? He was just blogging about Mr Wood: https://wonderlandburlesque.blogspot.com/2021/02/acquired-tastes-xliii-gay-pulp-fiction_15.html .

      It is good to know that rules are never abused. (That first scene from Stone Butch Blues when the gay bar got raided and the butch lesbians were arrested for not wearing at least three pieces of gender-conforming clothing comes to mind a lot.)

      I have no reason to believe that the Bible is full of shit, given that nobody in my blogroll is brave enough to blog about Historical Jesus. As for happily cross-dressing — that may be fine for this life, but what about the afterlife?

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      1. Thanks for the link! I enjoyed all the lurid covers and summaries — queer 1950s pulp fiction was always so sensationalistic and over the top — love it! And I did not know that Ed Wood was a prolific writer too — my esteem for the man is even higher now!

        If there were an afterlife (which there is not, of course) — I would happily crossdress there too!

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  2. Hahahaha
    How did I end up being mentioned along the Deuteronomy? This is what happens to me for being online so late. I get stuffed at the end of a paragraph talking about gender neutral clothing and apartments. Still, I find it fascinating that Abrahamic religions (they all pick and choose which verses to apply when talking about pleasure, even if the version of the old book they prefer is some other) always go for the sexy times as a way to scare people with eternal damnation. As if their Sky Daddy didn’t have enough yarn to be a sexist, chauvinist deity already.
    I find the idea of staying forever with one gendered set of clothes absolutely boring. Even though I really like boy clothes, I find clothes that are not boy-approved to be much more fun. Not like I’d be wearing stilettos tomorrow to go to work, but have you ever thought about the fantastic possibility of wearing a nice corset under a business casual button down?

    XOXO

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    1. Oh, you know I couldn’t write a blog post without giving you some kind of shout out. (I think that is a joke?) But yes, if you had not stayed up so late I would never have written you in.

      I thought you were working from home these days? Who would know if you showed up to work in stilettos, except your housemate and God?

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  3. Hello, I am heathen. The only thing I know about the bible, is leveling off the bedpost to make the bed stable.

    But I must look up that book Solomon Gursky Was Here. Sounds like an intresting story Id like.

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    1. I am not sure you would like it. I liked it because it was clever and misanthropic, but it is not terribly gay. Pretty much every character in the book (and there are many many characters in the book) is awful in one way or the other.

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  4. I recently heard a priest trying to clarify these old biblical rules fall into different categories of a) no longer applicable due to the nation of Israel no longer existing like that (or something) and b) laws ongoing as ‘all time’. I don’t remember if cross-dressing falls into which category but I smell a rat on the notion of a) vs. b) and who says so.

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    1. It’s enough to make you turn Muslim. At least the Muslims know that God speaks Arabic, and thus there is an unambiguous interpretation of the Quran.

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