Episcopal Church to Host “Requiem Mass: A Queer Divine Right”

Practicing the “Queer Mass” musical at the Episcopal Cathedral

An Episcopal cathedral is hosting a gay musical composition that borrows from the Latin Mass. The composer says the work is “a radical appropriation of a European, patriarchal tradition, the formal Latin Mass, which we reinterpret through the lens of the marginalized LGBTQ experience.”

Apparently, appropriation is okay so long as its religious and not cultural.

Holcombe Waller

“Requiem Mass: A Queer Divine Rite” will premiere on Nov. 16 & 17 at Grace Cathedral. The piece is a choral work by composer Holcombe Waller, and was created to honor those who have suffered persecution due to their homosexual sin. “Requiem Mass” is presented by Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in collaboration with Grace Cathedral’s Ghiberti Foundation.

‘Requiem Mass: A Queer Divine Rite’ is a radical appropriation of a European, patriarchal tradition, the formal Latin Mass, which we reinterpret through the lens of the marginalized LGBTQ experience,” Holcombe Waller told one San Francisco press outlet, the Bay Area Reporter.

He continued, “In many ways, the result is like an alternate universe in which the millennia of queer leadership in communities of faith have been out all along, shining their example of loving equity across all people. This is what the piece seeks to dream into being.”

According to reports, the idea for the Mass-inspired musical production was due to the Mormon and Catholic support for Proposition 8 in California, which sought to define marriage as between one man and woman.

Waller said, “At that time, I realized that the queer arts owed it to organized religion to intervene. It’s so misguided to apply Christian tenants against equitable social justice. It’s sort of a no-brainer to offer some ceremonial counterpoint. Music brings people together. It creates fellowship and shared experience. It disarms, it softens, it connects with heart. A Requiem calls on our common mortality. These were all points of inspiration.”

Waller added, “For many who grew up in religious contexts who felt alienated for their gender expression or sexuality, the piece may feel cathartic and surprisingly uncanny in how it intersects the familiarity of High Church with the incredibly queer-affirming love, despite the fact that it’s right there in all of the most basic Christian ideals.”

Waller himself is not a Christian or religious, but he claims to have an adequate enough understanding of the Christian Scriptures to pull out a pro-LGBTQ message from the Sacred Writ.



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