Pura Luka Vega not sorry for ‘blasphemous’ ‘Ama Namin’ performance
Drag queen Pura Luka Vega is standing firm on their performance as a form of art and expression despite the backlash that they received from various sectors including the church which manifested its objections to their use of the image of Jesus Christ for such entertainment, and a religious hymn during a private party.
The “Drag Den Philippines” alum, who was admittedly queer and goes by the pronouns they or them, found themselves at the receiving end of criticism when a footage of her performance made the rounds of social media after they uploaded it on Twitter.
In the video posted on July 10, Pura could be seen dressed as a jovial Christ in shining garb, with a crown of golden sunrays on their head, dancing and waving to a crowd of spectators who were also taking their video and dancing to an upbeat version of “Ama Namin” (The Lord’s Prayer), considered a sacred prayer by Catholics. In one part of the video, they appeared to be making the sign of the cross as they bobbed their heads to the music.
They captioned their video: “Thank you for coming to church,” then a praying emoji. It has since garnered over 17.3 million views
— Pura Luka Vega 🙃 (@ama_survivah) July 9, 2023
The video, however, drew the ire of netizens, including lawmakers, for supposedly being blasphemous and disrespectful of religious feelings, with no less than the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) saying such actions “border on mockery and profanity.”
But Pura said that they would not apologize for their performance, saying that it is not their intention to mock religion.
“I understand that people call my performance blasphemous, offensive or regrettable. However, they shouldn’t tell me how I practice my faith or how I do my drag. That performance was not for you to begin with. It is my experience and my expression, of having been denied my rights.
I understand that people call my performance blasphemous, offensive or regrettable. However, they shouldn’t tell me how I practice my faith or how I do my drag. That performance was not for you to begin with. It is my experience and my expression, of having been denied my rights.
— Pura Luka Vega 🙃 (@ama_survivah) July 13, 2023
In response to the criticisms, the drag performer took to their Twitter Space on Tuesday, July 11, pointing out that their performance is a tribute to God, and that they were even very “careful” with the performance so that they would not be “cancelled”.
“My intention was really never to mock per se. In my mind, queerness has always been there and I feel like it’s my way of actually praising God. I was very careful when I did that because I don’t want to come across something that’s very offensive,” they said.
“But then again, it was seen as something very offensive which made me realize [na], was it offensive because I am a queer individual or was it other factors? It was, in no way, trying to demean. If you would ask me what my religion is, it’s Roman Catholic,” they continued.
Pura then stressed that their intention was to “challenge our notions” of worship, as they stressed that their audience “understood” what the song was trying to say. They further said that this was not their first time to use an interpretation of Jesus Christ as a performance, but claimed that doing so was a manifestation of their Catholic faith as they resonated with Christ’s value as defender of the oppressed.
“The wig, the elements, the symbolism were there. (But) Jesus is also for the gays. That’s how I intended it (when I made the video). No one is engaging in a conversation na parang they are listening to me and allowing me to speak up because their minds are already made up and have already placed judgment on me,” they said on Twitter Space.
“I respect and I know how it is. But I also did that intentionally to challenge our notions of how we worship or how we sing praise. Tama naman ‘yung observations ng iba (other observations are correct), the only difference is that it’s a remix,” they added. “But it made me realize that so [many] people knew the lyrics of the song and understood what it’s trying to say.”
Abuse of freedom of speech
Meanwhile, Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri described the act as an “abuse of freedom of speech” in a statement, as he warned of a criminal charge against Pura as it’s supposedly a violation of Article 201 of the Revised Penal Code, which states that violators of “immoral doctrines, obscene publications and exhibitions, and indecent shows” shall be meted the penalty of prision mayor and a fine of up to P12,000.
“We urge the authorities to look into this matter. Article 201 of the Revised Penal Code punishes those who offend any race or religion in the performance of obscene or indecent plays, scenes, acts or shows in theaters, fairs, or any other place,” said Zubiri. EDV