Drag Queen’s Protest Spawns Ex-Gay Petition
The scheduled appearance of a retired priest involved in reparative therapy has turned Cardinal Spellman Catholic High School in the Bronx into a battleground between anti-gay activists posing as advocates for the ex-gay movement and gay activists led by Spellman alumnus, actor/drag artist Clinton Leupp aka Coco Peru.
According to the New York Daily News, the controversy began when school officials booked Father Donald Timone to speak to parents about the Catholic groups "Courage" and "EnCourage’" whose aim is to convince children "struggling with same-sex attraction" to live "chaste lives through participation in support groups." Announcement of the event caused outrage by a group of gay and lesbian alumni led by actor / drag artist Miss Coco Peru.
"It makes it look like it’s a support group, but once you really see what they are doing it’s disturbing" said Leupp of the Courage and EnCourage programs advocated by Timone. "They are trying to shame these kids!"
The decision to schedule the talk by Timone was supported by school president Father Trevor Nicholls, who said "Courage is an organization that simply tries to teach what the Catholic Church teaches on certain issues," Nicholls said. "It is a very caring and supportive group."
In a statement on the school’s website, Nicholls supported the decision to schedule the speech.
"Part of our outreach is to the parents of our students, whose education and overall welfare is our number one priority," the statement reads. "The talk to be given by Fr. Donald Timone is to be addressed to the parents NOT to the Students[..]I know that any parents who may attend the meeting on Tuesday evening will find his presentation of great benefit."
According to a follow-up piece in the Daily News, after numerous complaints from school alumni and staffers who felt that the program treats homosexuals like addicts in a 12-step program, Timone’s speaking engagement, which was scheduled for Tuesday was postponed, but not cancelled.
"The idea that this is the end of the matter is incorrect," Father Nicholls said, adding that Timone would likely be invited back after a vote by the school’s board of trustees.
To further protest the speech, Leupp, who now identifies as Episcopalian produced and published a music video of the Nina Simone classic "Feeling Good" to YouTube and social media where she tells the school to "go f@#% themselves."