Drag queen: 'Ama Namin' performance meant to challenge notions of praise and worship

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 13) — Amid religious uproar, Pura Luka Vega, the drag queen behind the viral "Ama Namin" video, said her performance was not meant to disrespect or blaspheme but instead challenge the notions of praise and worship.

The video depicts Vega in a drag outfit meant to resemble Jesus Christ performing to a rock rendition of "Ama Namin," the Filipino translation of the Lord's Prayer.

According to Vega, her intention was not to mock or demean religion. "In my mind, queerness has always been there naman, I feel like it's my way of actually praising God."

"If you would ask naman me what my religion is, it's really Roman Catholic – not a devout one – but I respect and I know how it is. Then again, I also did that intentionally to challenge our notions of how we worship or how we sing our praise," Vega said on Twitter Spaces.

Vega added that she felt she was careful in rendering her performance, and questioned why so many had taken offense.

"Was it offensive because I am a queer individual or was it of other factors?" she posed.

The drag queen argued the Bible had been weaponized to deprive the LGBTQIA+ community of basic human rights.

"I just want to create a narrative that despite all of these, Jesus, as the embodiment of God's love for all, does not forget about the oppressed, including the LGBTQIA+ community," she said.

Addressing those offended, Vega on Thursday said "the performance was not for you to begin with."

The Philippine Statistics Authority's census on Religious Affiliation in the Philippines published February 2023 found that at least 88% of Filipinos were Christians.

Lawmakers cry blasphemy

Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri condemned Vega's performance "in the strongest possible terms," and claimed it bordered on criminal activity.

"It offends the sensibilities of our Christian brothers and sisters, deeply demeans the faith of millions of Filipinos, and dangerously scales the boundaries of protected speech and expression," Zubiri said.

"In this case, a criminal charge can be filed under Article 201 of the Revised Penal Code, which 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.' We urge the authorities to look into this matter," he added.

Sen. Risa Hontiveros, a proponent of the LGBTQIA+ community in the upper chamber, likewise lamented the performance.

"As a woman of faith, I admit I personally find this regrettable. Alam ko madami ding miyembro ng [I also know many members of the] LGBTQIA+ community, persons of faith among them, find this regrettable," Hontiveros said.

"I also caution against the use of this incident to deny rights and protections to a community that has long been marginalized and excluded. I wish for self-reflection, compassion and healing for both the religious and LGBTQIA+ communities," she added.

Senators Koko Pimentel and JV Ejercito also slammed Vega’s performance.

"The true test of creativity is in gaining the admiration of people thru the brilliance of the work. Creativity is not about being brave enough to offend people. Hence we should not let this guy profit from his despicable work," Pimentel said.

"Ama Namin is sacred to us Christians; using it for humor is extremely offensive and disrespectful. Artists should always exercise discernment, as their craft may inspire division or worse, aggression," Ejercito added.