On Monday night last, during a celebration of carnival, which tradition holds marks the eve of the start of Lent, a drag queen celebration in Gran Canaria, the second most populous island in the Canary Islands, crowned a mocking representation of Jesus’ crucifixion, featuring a drag and tearful Virgin Mary accompanied by four Nazarenes, as best act.
Francisco Cases, bishop of the diocese of Canarias, where the
Carnival of Las Palmas took place, lamented what he called the
“blasphemous frivolity” of the Drag Queen Gala and questioned if
everything is licit or if there are limits to freedom of expression when
it’s offensive to many people.
“I’m living the saddest day of my stay in Canarias,” the bishop wrote
in a statement. “My eyes were full of tears.” He even said that the
show was for him more sad than the 2008 crash of a plane where 150
Cases also wondered “if there are no limits to the freedom of
expression, if everything is licit in the festive manifestations because
nothing is truth, if there are no resources for ending the blasphemous
frivolity that offends so many citizens.”
He also wrote that the first thing he thought of was to ask
forgiveness “to our savior and his blessed Mother” for the offenses,
both for himself and for the many within the Christian community who
“don’t give the rightful witness.”
The show organized by Drag Sethlas- whose real name is Borja Casillas- began to the tune of Madonna’s 1989 hit Like a Prayer, a song which at the time led Pope John Paul II to call for a boycott of Madonna’s concerts in Italy since the video clip, the Vatican believed, contained blasphemous use of Christian imaginary.
During the show, called “My darling! I don’t do miracles, may it be
what God wants,” Drag Sethlas is first dressed like the Virgin Mary and
eventually loses his outfit, adds a crown of thorns and pretends to be
Jesus on the cross, while Madonna’s and Lady Gaga’s tunes are replaced
by someone praying the Our Father.
Coming down from the cross, Drag Sethlas asks, “Do you want my
forgiveness? Bend over and enjoy. Feel me in your mouth. Kneel down.”
The show was well received by the 6,000 people who were in
attendance, who, through electronic voting, made Drag Sethlas the winner
of the 20th edition of this drag queen festival.
In a radio interview given after the victory, the drag queen,
presenting himself as Casillas, says he’s a teacher in primary school
and that even though he’s agnostic, he’s studying to teach religion
class in private and public schools.
Cases wasn’t the only bishop to raise his voice against the show.
Cardinal Ricardo Blázquez, president of the Spanish bishop’s
conference, acknowledged the right to freedom of expression, but called
for respect for “the religious sentiments” of Christians in Spain.
The spokesperson for the conference condemned the show through
Twitter saying the “blasphemous acts” of the drag gala of the Carnival
of las Palmas in Gran Canaria were “revolting.” In the tweet, he shared
Carlos Alonso, president of the Cabildo de Tenerife- a governmental
figure of the Canary Islands – wrote in his Facebook account that the
show had been an “offense.”
“Carnival is transgression, freedom that is spilled, incredible. But
it must never be used to offend so much the values of so many people,”
Alonso wrote. “Yesterday, in the Drag Queen Gala of Las Palmas de Gran
Canaria, in the stellar moment there was no Carnival nor freedom, only