WESTMORELAND COUNTY (KDKA) — Religious leaders in Westmoreland County are expressing concerns over fundraisers in the community.
The one catching their attention: drag queen bingos at volunteer fire departments.
A group of seven Christian churches in the Mount Pleasant Township area called “Christians Uniting” issued a letter to about 14 volunteer fire departments in their congregation area on March 20.
It calls into question the use of drag queen bingos as fundraisers.
“These pictures depicted individuals in a very unpleasant way,” said Pastor Mark Werner. “Not in the way that God created us to live.”
The letter says:
“This event encourages the touch, fondling and groping of patrons dressed in drag.”
They go on to state that this could lead to lawsuits in the “Me Too”-era.
“With some reflection, there could be the instance where someone comes back and reveals something happening very differently, and that might trigger a lawsuit against the fire company,” Werner added.
“I promise you on everything we do not do the groping, we do not do the touching,” Jeffrey Kaczynski with the Sparkling Queens of Drag said.
According to Kaczynski, groups who do touch and grope are not a fair representation of drag queens and make Kaczynski’s job harder.
“It’s a shame. It’s really a disgrace to not only the fire departments but to the gay community,” he said.
He says his group has raised almost $200,000 in their fundraisers over the past year.
According to the Calumet Volunteer Fire Department, the Sparkling Queens of Drag’s bingo event raised them almost $10,000 in one night.
They plan to book them again for bingo in July.
“We’re not going to let anyone stop us. We are going to continue to do what we love to do,” Kaczynski said.
The churches understand the fire departments need to raise money, but they would prefer in the fundraiser “treat each person with dignity and respect.”
“Society has over the years viewed people as objects, as a commodity, as objects,” Pastor Werner said.