Controversial play depicting gay Christ draws mixed reactions

By Don Tagala, ABS-CBN North America Bureau

July 10, 2013

New York – An off-Broadway play that depicts Jesus Christ as a gay man is going on a U.S. tour this September. “Corpus Christi” which means “body of Christ” is a passion play about the life and story of the son of God and his 12 apostles.

The only difference is Jesus and the apostles here are all gay men living in modern day Texas.

The play first opened in New York in 1998. Its producers and cast got angry letters, bomb threats and massive protests from critics aghast at the rumored sexual nature of the production.

“There’s no orgies on stage. There’s no sex on stage. It’s really the passion play as people know,” said stage actor James Brandon, who plays Jesus, “The parables that everybody knows are told through the lens of a different, tweaking it a little and telling it through a different perspective.”

But the thought of a gay messiah on stage got mixed reactions from ‘kababayans’ in Jersey City.

“It’s a disgrace! And it’s a big sin in the eyes of God,” said Jersey City resident Kenny Quiza.

“It’s not a problem for me.  Not everyone there is gay.  In the first place, everyone in America should be equal,” countered Amalia Yao, also from Jersey City.

Brandon who plays the role of gay Jesus said the message they’re trying to convey is drowned out by protests from people who haven’t even seen the play yet.

Corpus Christi’s message is simple: the church should be a place where all are welcomed including the LGBT community.

“That’s all it is; we’re recognizing that everybody is a child of God and that everybody deserves an equal place in their chosen table of faith if they want it,” Brandon said.

In this visionary play, Jesus administers same-sex marriage between two of his apostles.

Brandon said the play, written by Terrence McNally back in 1997, was ahead of its time.

“Marriage equality is very much a national discussion now, whereas the time he wrote the play it wasn’t. This is something that we address in the play. We address homosexuality and faith, and the equality that lacks there in the churches,” Brandon added.

A documentary called “Corpus Christi: Playing with Redemption”” will be screening in tandem with the play during the tour.

In an email to ABS-CBN, a group called 2000 Hail Mary Devotion Outreach vowed to stop the staging and screening of what they call a blasphemous and revolting mockery of Jesus Christ.

Brandon however said critics may want to see the play first before they cast the first stone.

You may contact Don Tagala at don_tagala@abs-cbn.com.

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  • kuya
    11 July 2013 at 1:12 pm - Reply

    For heaven sake, leave jesus alone!!! He already died for us and now you want to kill him again?

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