Drag performance held at church in Durham to protest UMC leadership

Durham County News

DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) —  People in Durham on Saturday found a unique way to oppose a decision by leaders of the United Methodist Church and support members of the Triangle’s LGBTQ community.

They packed the Calvary United Methodist Church for what was an event called “Drag Me to Church.” 

“It brings such good and positive energy, which is really what we wanted this to be about,” Calvary UMC Pastor Chris Agoranos said. 

For Agoranos, he’s behind all members. 

“I told them as my pastor that I love them, and that I’m committed to them,” he said. 

This is after leaders with the United Methodist Church decided to uphold a ban on same-sex marriage, and ordaining LGBTQ clergy. 

“Our voice of resistance to that is to be a space of celebration, that holds space for everybody, that loves and affirms everybody,” Agoranos said. 

David Prater shares that same message as a member of Calvary UMC, and while emceeing the family-friendly drag show and silent auction at the church Saturday.

He and others are opposing the decision, while supporting and raising money for the Durham church’s LGBTQ youth group, iNSIDEoUT180

“It’s a church that helped save my life,” Prater said. “Calvary has loved me and supported me every moment that I’ve been here. Finding that the United Methodist Church at the highest levels didn’t share that same opinion was a bit mystifying for me, because it doesn’t seem to go along with the words in red that I read in the Bible.” 

Gus Svara is a member of the group iNSIDEoUT180. 

“I’ve made a bunch of friends here, and it’s really helped with my mental health,” Svara said. “I think it’s a good way to promote diversity, and it’s also a form of peaceful protest in a way.”

Susan Gilpin, a member of Calvary UMC, decided to come to the event to support others. 

“It’s not about being apart from, it’s about being a part of,” Gilpin said. 

Prater told CBS 17 they raised more than $5,000 at the event for iNSIDEoUT180. He said they plan on making “Drag Me to Church” an annual event.

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