Kiyan Atrian

A “Chosen” Ministry: Drag Performance and Queer Religious Trauma

Mentor: Trish Fancher

The specter of religion has left indelible marks on the lives of queer people, whose identities have been historically shaped by religious discourses on gender and sexuality. For many queer and trans people, organized religion has long been a source of turmoil and baggage; for others, it has provided a sanctuary for various forms of religious trauma they have experienced. My zine will explore the contentious intersection of religion and expressive queerness, primarily through the performance of “drag.” With praxis rooted in the subversion of pillars of cis/heteronormativity, drag performance seems poised to strike the basic foundations of the religious convention. However, the performance of drag has also enabled artists to reconcile their existing struggles with their religious identities. I am a queer person who has contended with my own religious struggles for years and seeing my stories animated through the spectacle of drag has helped me navigate my own experiences and identities. By exploring the association of drag performance and religiosity in queer communities, I aim to ask, contemplate, and answer the following: What does it mean to maintain both queer and religious identities? How is this intersection transformed by performative expressions of drag, sexuality, and gender? Can and how do these forces coexist? In pondering such questions, I hope to unpack the dynamic potential of religion as both a healing force and a source of disorientation for queer people inhabiting similar identities.

Read an excerpt from Kiyan’s zine A “Chosen” Ministry: Drag Performance and Queer Religious Trauma