LONDON (BP)–Australian church groups are appalled that several dozen “drag queens” are expected to participate in the official closing ceremony of the Sydney Olympics, according to CNSNews.com. The involvement of men dressed as women, the church groups say, does little to enhance the city or the Games.
Christians, meanwhile, have been prohibited from openly displaying their faith.
While the Olympics opening ceremony is as always a closely guarded secret, the closing event usually provides the host city and country with the opportunity to showcase their traditions and cultures.
Along with such Australian symbols as Crocodile Dundee and Mad Max, a group of drag queens, wearing wigs, makeup and flamboyant dresses, will represent the cult movie “Priscilla, Queen of the Desert” in a float parade.
The subject has dominated the airwaves in Sydney in recent days, according to reports, with mixed reaction from callers to radio phone-in shows. The city has a large homosexual community and each year hosts a “Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras” which draws up to 1 million visitors.
Christian Democratic Party leader Fred Nile said the “public homosexual display [would] embarrass many Australians by giving the impression that Australia is the homosexual capital of the world.”
A spokesman for Australia’s Catholic Church, priest Brian Lucas, was quoted as saying, “Most fair-minded people would hardly think that it would reflect the values of the Olympic Games. I don’t think it would reflect any credit on the true culture of the country.”
The Anglican Archbishop Harry Goodhew of Sydney questioned the thinking behind the decision.
“It is very revealing that Christians can be restricted from even wearing a T-shirt with a gospel theme on Olympic sites, while something that represents a standard of confused sexuality can get such prominent exhibition,” the Sydney Morning Herald quoted the archbishop as saying.
An interdenominational group called Quest is coordinating church volunteers at the Games. Its chairman, Brian King, noted that Christians had not been allowed to include a prayer in the opening ceremony.
“So now we have a situation where a minority group is given preference over the majority of people who believe in God.”
A Muslim community representative, Ali Roude, also said the float would send the wrong message to the world.
Australia’s Olympics minister insisted there would be “no celebration of drag or drag queens or the Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras or homosexuality in the closing ceremony,” but the director of the event, Ric Birch, confirmed the participation of the drag queens in Priscilla costumes and dismissed critics as “right wing reactionaries.”
The city will offer a host of other homosexual-related events, if one alternative media outlet, the Sydney Star Observer, is anything to go by.
The publication reports there will be “a fair smattering of lesbian and gay talent” at sites across the city, featuring entertainment and live video feeds to the sporting events.
Participants will include such performers as the Topp Twins, described as “New Zealand’s finest lesbian yodeling duo export.”
One drag queen, Portia Turbo, is quoted as saying, “Being the only drag queen asked to perform in front of all those straight people is a pretty special thing. It’s like being given an honorary key to the city for a week.
“Daytime drag is lots of fun,” Turbo said. “Natural light is always so soft and beautiful.”
Sydney’s mayor, Frank Sartor, said he believed “the diversity and quality” of the entertainment provided would “become the new standard for the host cities of the Olympic Games.”
The Sydney Olympics website says the closing ceremony “marks the host city’s last turn on the global sporting stage and is used to full effect.”
Goodenough is the London bureau chief for CNSNews.com, an Internet news site. Used by permission.