Notre Dame prof defends campus drag show as not 'counter to the teachings of the Church'

Notre Dame's Pam Wojcik will host a symposium on drag on Nov. 3 as part of her one-credit course, “What a Drag: Drag on Screen - Variations and Meanings.”

Wojcik told Campus Reform that it will allow students to understand the history of drag in a 'rational, intellectual environment,' rather than through the 'hysteria of Republicans trying to ban something that they don’t understand.'

A leading Catholic university appears set to allow a professor to host an upcoming drag show to allegedly educate students about the influence and tradition of drag in entertainment.

Pam Wojcik, the chair of the Department of Film, Television, and Theatre, plans on hosting a symposium on drag during Nov. 3 as part of her one-credit course, “What a Drag: Drag on Screen - Variations and Meanings.”

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According to the Notre Dame website’s class search feature, the class “provides an overview of the history of drag performance on screen.” 

“We will consider televisual drag, comedic and dramatic fiction films, documentaries, and silent films,” the course description states. “We will consider uses of drag as disguise, cross dressing for comedy, ballroom culture, drag contests, female to male drag, and more.”

In a conversation with Campus Reform, Wojcik cast doubt on the Catholic Church’s opposition to drag shows.

“So, do you have any evidence that the Church has opinions about drag one way or the other? ‘Cause I don’t,” Wojcik said.

“Drag has a very long history in entertainment,” she stated. “Drag has been central to all of these entertainment forms and part of the reason we’re doing this class in Film, TV, and Theatre is because there’s a lot of misperception about what drag is.”

Wojcik rejected the idea that drag performances had anything to do with Catholic teaching on sexuality or chastity, and downplayed the idea that showcasing such spectacles would be “harmful.”

“I don’t see any reason that drag would be perceived as being anti-Catholic in any way,” she said. “It does have its long tradition.”

The professor indicated that the purpose of the course is to “undo some of the misperceptions that drag somehow harms people.” She also said that, “There is no evidence of drag ever hurting anyone and I don’t think it’s counter to the teachings of the Church, I don’t think it’s counter to the teachings of Notre Dame.”

Wojcik also clarified that the class would be helpful in educating students on the topic of drag that they probably don’t understand from how it is discussed nationally. 

“[B]ecause the national conversation about drag has this distorted view, it really is just trying to give students the opportunity to learn about something in a rational, intellectual environment, rather than through this sort of hysteria of Republicans trying to ban something that they don’t understand,” Wojcik told Campus Reform

As noted by The Observer in March, Notre Dame denied an LGBT student group’s invitation to invite a “drag queen” to speak about his life at an MBA program “Diversity and Heritage Ball” event.

The Catholic Church has a longstanding tradition of teaching about the complementarity of man and woman, and has consistently opposed same-sex marriage and gender ideology. In March, Pope Francis condemned gender ideology as “one of the most dangerous ideological colonizations,” while also emphasizing it is “dangerous” because it “blurs differences and the value of men and women.” 

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The upcoming drag symposium event will be sponsored by Notre Dame’s Department of Gender Studies, Department of Music, Department of American Studies, and the Initiative on Race and Resilience.

Campus Reform has reached out to Professor Pam Wojcik and all mentioned departments for comment. This article will be updated accordingly.