Reuben Kaye and MP clash over Jesus and Drag Storytime on Q+A

Reuben Kaye on Q+A talking Jesus and Drag Storytime
Images: ABC, Supplied

Australian cabaret star Reuben Kaye has defended Drag Storytime and opened up about the backlash around his The Project Jesus joke in a big Q+A episode on ABC.

Appearing on the program, Reuben was asked if he thought a straight comedian would receive the same backlash as he did if they told the joke about Jesus Christ getting nailed.

Reuben responded no, he didn’t and said many hadn’t for similar material.

“Ricky Gervais devotes almost 90 per cent of his routine to tearing down religion. Dave Chappelle does it,” he said.

“Big name, straight comics do this all the time. This isn’t about the joke, this is about who was telling it.”

‘I don’t think this is about one joke’

Reuben explained, “Since The Project, I can’t even begin to count the number of articles that have been written about me calling me lewd, demanding apologies.

“Three different state police organisations have confiscated and comber over my phone.

“My parents have been instructed to not open anything that comes addressed to me. My addresses and their addresses are on priority-response lists and have been scrubbed from the electoral roll so they can’t be found.

“In Sydney, there were mobs wanting to lynch me. So, I think there are comedians telling far worse jokes who receive far less. I don’t think this is about one joke.”

On Q+A, Reuben Kaye clashed with senior Nationals Senator Bridget McKenzie who said the joke offended her as a person of faith.

“It wasn’t just the Christian community that got offended. The Islamic community did as well,” she said.

“Although I guess Christians have been persecuted for over 2,000 years.”

Reuben responded, “Give it a break! You’re next to a Jewish homosexual and you’re going to say Christians have been persecuted?”

Senator McKenzie said she would’ve been “equally offended if anybody had said that joke.”

‘All of the panellists tonight are in drag’

A Q+A audience member also asked why a backlash against Drag Storytime was happening and the impact of it on performers.

Reuben Kaye replied, “First off, let’s define drag. Drag is whacking on a bit of make-up and a costume. It’s as simple as that,” Kaye said.

“‘Drag’ itself, the term, does not define content and it does not define aesthetic. One could argue that all of the panellists tonight are in drag.”

He added drag queen storytime is “simply a drag queen stepping into a library in a sparkly outfit, reading a story and singing some songs to kids.”

“That’s it. It’s not nefarious. Drag can span art forms as long as you like.

“It can be an adults-only club performance. It can be something as simple as this. It’s necessary because drag queen story time does something important,” he said.

“It opens kids’ eyes to a world that is diverse and reflective of reality, and it offers queer kids an opportunity to see themselves.

“If queer kids don’t see themselves represented in this world, how can they envision a future with them in it?”

“We’ve seen this sort of rhetoric – ‘Oh, we care about the kids,’ ‘They’re coming for the kids,’ – before. We saw it in Safe Schools. We saw it in marriage equality.

“All this does is send a message to queer kids that their lives are not as important as the points we score debating them in open forums.”

‘These aren’t protesters, these are aggressors’

Senator Bridget McKenzie added that she saw the issue is one of parental choice.

“If society is choosing to have open-access drag queens reading at local libraries … it’s your decision and your right as a parent to decide this is something I want my child to be involved in. Or it is something that I don’t want my child to be involved in,” she said.

But Reuben Kaye again pushed back, pointing out Drag Storytimes were “not about parental choice”.

“Mobs are assembling outside libraries. Librarians are getting death threats. Libraries and local councils are having to add security because people are trying to use this as a lightning rod issue. They’re using children as a shield for their bigotry,” he said.

Senator McKenzie said she “didn’t agree with violence”, but Reuben Kaye replied, “This isn’t about free speech or the right to protest. These aren’t protesters, these are aggressors.”

“We’ve seen Nazis on the steps of parliament twice. That is twice too many. What message are we sending not just to kids but to the rest of the world as to what Australia is?”

‘Just say no to intolerant shouters’

Labor MP Bill Shorten also dismissed the anti-drag protesters as “intolerant shouters” imitating American culture wars.

“This is not freedom of speech. It’s American culture wars. We should just say to the people doing it, ‘You’re not welcome,'” he said.

“There’s enough people in this country who are middle of the road. We are sick of intolerant shouters and we should just say no.”

Bill Shorten said instead, we should be praising the drag queens for one simple reason.

“I think it’s great that we can get kids to go to the library,” he said.

“Someone should thank some of the drag queens for getting kids to the library and making it more interesting.

“If a kid wants to go to the library and have a story read to them by a drag queen or a person in a koala suit or whatever, that’s fine. Let’s just do it!”

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Jordan Hirst
Jordan Hirst

Jordan Hirst is an experienced journalist and content creator with a career spanning over a decade at QNews. Since 2012, the Brisbane local has covered an enormous range of topics and subjects in-depth affecting the LGBTIQA+ community, both in Australia and overseas. Today, the Brisbane-based journalist covers everything from current affairs, politics and health to sport and entertainment.

QNews, Brisbane Gay, App, Gay App, LGBTI, LGBTI News, Gay Australia

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