Students at Manhattan’s Grace Church High School claim they were pressured into participating in a mandatory Pride drag show held in the school’s chapel last spring.
Every other Wednesday, students are required to attend chapel, reports The Post Millennial. When they arrived on April 27, church services were substituted with a show starring drag queen “Brita Filter,” aka Jesse Havea, an alumnus of RuPaul’s Drag Race.
The event, sponsored by Spectrum, the school’s LGBT support club, marked the school’s sixth annual Pride chapel, and students allege they were forced to have a good time, whether they wanted to or not.
“There was tons of social pressure to dance along and pretend like it was normal for sure,” said a student who wished to remain anonymous, “whether it be people tapping on shoulders and telling them to stand up or just a collective staring contest at whoever wasn’t totally participating.”
According to The Post, Pride stickers were handed to the students, along with a piece of advice: “Take one or you’re homophobic.”
As Brita sashayed towards the altar in electric orange go-go boots, some of the kids began “twerking,” one student recalled.
“I wondered, is this really happening in a chapel?” the student said.
Another student noted that there was “tons of social pressure to dance along and pretend that this was normal for church.”
On TikTok, Brita was thrilled with the opportunity.
“I literally went to church to teach the children today,” the performer posted along with a sample of the show. “A Catholic High School here in NYC invited me to their Pride 🏳️🌈 Chapel. Visibility matters and I’m so honored to have had the chance to talk to you about my work as a LGBTQ+ Drag Queen Activist.”
@thebritafilter I literally went to church to teach the children today… 💒💕🏳️🌈🏳️⚧️ A Catholic High School here in NYC invited me to their Pride 🏳️🌈 Chapel. Visibility matters and I’m so honored to have had the chance to talk to you about my work as a LGBTQ+ Drag Queen Activist. Comment if you want me to post part 2… #drag #church #dragqueen #lgbtq #pride ♬ original sound – Brita Filter
The school’s website offered more details on the event.
“After a performance of ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow,’ Brita sat with Director of Vocal Music, Andrew Leonard, to answer questions about drag, representation and what pride month symbolizes,” the website states. “Student members of Spectrum shared their own stories and experiences of identity and belonging at Grace, before the Grace Notes closed out the chapel with a performance of Rina Sayayama’s ‘Chosen Family.'”
And in case you were worried the little ones were being left out of all the fun, the school touts its first-ever “Lower School Pride Chapel.”
“Finally, this year marked the first-ever Lower School Pride Chapel on June 7,” the website reports. “GCS Chaplain Reverend Mark Hummel began the service by sharing a few words on the importance of Pride. Early Childhood Dance and Drama Teacher Laurel Lesio led students through the history of the rainbow flag and what it symbolizes, and Dean of Equity and Inclusion Jean-Robert Andre read ‘Twas the Night Before Pride’ to an audience of students and their families.”
What the site didn’t appear to cover was the departure of teacher Uyen Nguyen, who calls themself “The Gay Agender Teacher Nguyen,” and announced their resignation during the event because colleagues wouldn’t refer to the teacher as “they.”
As one student explained, “The administration is not supportive of their identity. They kept just saying that they were getting misgendered and people weren’t using their pronouns.”
Meanwhile, Brita discussed being “pansexual” with Christian teens.
Said one observant student, “It’s notable that this person consistently called themselves fabulous and talented and beautiful. Not just once or twice, but over and over this person reassured themselves that way.”
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