We contacted both sides to get their take on the story
Unlike the Outpost (or, as some call it, the Outhouse), Lost Coast Populist contacted both sides regarding canceling an ages drag show that would have been held at the Old Steeple in Ferndale on February 4, 2023. A few days ago, we published the interview with Cheri from Ferndale Music Company and The Old Steeple. Today you get to read what transpired from Rev. Tyrel Bramwell’s perspective. Because here at Lost Coast Populist – we don’t tell you how to think; we just provide the facts so you can think for yourself.
Bramwell, St. Mark Lutheran Church on Drag Show Cancelation
Q: Your sign reads, “Beware Drag show for kids coming to The Old Steeple.” Do you believe local parents are justified in their concerns when they protest recent all-age-drag shows?
A: Yes, I believe parents who protest all-age drag shows are justified in their concerns. What’s more, each parent may have his or her own personal (ideological, theological, sociological, etc.) reason why he or she is concerned. As parents those concerns are justifiable. As a Christian pastor, I recognize the parental vocation to be one of great responsibility because it is an office that affords the highest measure of influence on another human being’s life during the most influential years of that person’s life.Rev. Tyrel Bramwell, Pastor, St. Mark Evangelical Lutheran Church Ferndale, CA
Q: The local news media, along with plenty of local organizations, have lambasted the concerned parents, and now you and your church are part of a hate group. That the parents, even the founder of Lost Coast Populist, are accused of being terrorists with the sole intent of harming the LGBTQ community. Do you feel like this is authentic journalism and an accurate depiction of reality or something else?
A: I think this is a horribly inaccurate depiction of reality. Parents have a responsibility to protect and provide for their children, to guide them in truth, and to equip them with the skills to discern lies. While I, personally, have theological reasons for saying this, I could say the same thing from nothing more than a common sense approach to parenting. The world is full of liars and a buffet of opportunities for the individual to make bad choices–with varying degrees of severity.
With this in mind, parents who protest are defending their children from those who, whether they realize it or not, are actively working to undermine the very basic tools every human being uses to navigate life, which will only lead to a life of mental and emotional terror. That may be an answer that would take more time to fully articulate.
To succinctly answer your question, I believe using language such as terrorist, hate group, or any from the laundry list that have been used to label me is a manipulation technique. These thought-stoppers are employed to prevent others from thinking through the concerned citizen’s point of view, to keep people from hearing an opposing viewpoint. Respectable and honest journalists shouldn’t engage in such tactics.Rev. Tyrel Bramwell, Pastor, St. Mark Evangelical Lutheran Church Ferndale, CA
Q: In your recent video, you point out scripture verses that essentially describe the apparent nature of children being both innocent and highly suggestible. It turns out that science aligns with common sense and scripture in showing it is mostly nurture, as in the early years of a child’s life, where what they experience appears to have a strong relationship to who they become.
Pedophiles are found to be shaped by childhood trauma and sexualization. Do you feel like all-age-drag shows not only go against scripture but also basic morality? And: Would you agree with critics of all-age-drag shows who see this as a line far crossed by a community that is getting a pass merely because they are a self-proclaimed “marginalized group”?
A: As a rule, basic morality–the simple distinction between right and wrong–is universal to all mankind. Sociopaths are exceptions to this rule precisely because it’s their moral capacity that is broken. The morality found on the pages of Christian scripture simply expresses what the human heart naturally knows. Yes, the rise of all-age drag shows is due, in large part, because of intentional efforts to put selected groups (however critical theorists choose to define them on a given day) above and in place of the original and natural group–the family.
Whether we’re talking about drag in particular, the LGBTQ in general, race, or any topic where we might expect to find the words diversity, equity, and inclusion being tossed around, what we’re dealing with is an assault on the family and the individuals within it, in favor of something else. The one group that a healthy society is built on–family–is being destroyed in favor of giving the new “marginalized groups” a supposed equal standing. But that equal standing generally works itself out in terms of giving them a free pass.Rev. Tyrel Bramwell, Pastor, St. Mark Evangelical Lutheran Church Ferndale, CA
Q: Do you believe that all-age-drag shows in which there’s nothing expressly adult are okay? The “other side” likes to say these are akin to costume parties. What is your response to that stance?
A: I have a number of problems with drag, but the overarching issue for me is that drag is an idolatry issue where the creature makes a mockery of the Creator’s creation. Apart from any “adult” content, drag degrades the sexes and ridicules true femininity and masculinity. Drag promotes gender confusion. It is intellectually dishonest to argue that drag is akin to costume parties and I think advocates for drag know that.Rev. Tyrel Bramwell, Pastor, St. Mark Evangelical Lutheran Church Ferndale, CA
Q: Do you believe these current drag shows – appropriate for any age group – are comparable to Shakespeare’s time when women were not allowed on stage (talk about misogyny), and men were compelled to act out the female roles?
A: I think there are a number of misunderstandings connected with Shakespeare argument. For starters, one of the reasons it was socially taboo for women to perform on stage is because performance makeup, when applied to a woman, made her appear very similar to the heavily made-up and notoriously promiscuous girls of the night scene. Another is the long history of perversion associated with acting, dating back to the Romans and the Greeks before them. Theater and moral decay were bedfellows long before Hollywood.
All-male casts protected the reputations of upstanding women. At least that was part of the idea as I understand it. Connected to this concern of reputation is the historic reality of the sexual perversions long associated with theater, as I just mentioned. Referring to Shakespeare’s time doesn’t dispel the concerns one has with drag, someone making drag innocent, but merely gives context to a long history of why men in women’s clothing is even a thing. Moral depravity is still at the center of the issue.Rev. Tyrel Bramwell, Pastor, St. Mark Evangelical Lutheran Church Ferndale, CA
Q: The Operators of The Old Steeple have been quoted: “Friends and customers reached out to us regarding threatening Facebook messages that pointed to the possibility of extremists attending the event to disrupt it.” Do you know or associate with any extremists? How would you define an extremist?
A: I do not know or associate with any extremists, not in the sense I think they mean. I sat down with the owners of The Old Steeple the day before they canceled the drag show. They expressed fear of violence. That’s where my definition would go, too. Along with breaking the law. But where I have the expected traditional definition of an extremist, I suspect, based on their interviews on the cancellation, that they would label anyone who protested outside their venue an extremist.
If that’s accurate, then to be consistent in their view, they would be extremists, because they were both in attendance at the Pride protest at St. Mark Lutheran Church in June of 2021. When you consider that the protestors didn’t have a permit to be in the street and yet disrupted traffic, and that they broke Ferndale’s nuisance code, at least with respect to noise… well, we’re getting closer to extremism, aren’t we?Rev. Tyrel Bramwell, Pastor, St. Mark Evangelical Lutheran Church Ferndale, CA
Q: Beatie said he’d been alerted to a comment on Facebook asking for the names and addresses of organizers. “We flagged that post, and it was removed.” What purpose would you imagine people would use this contact info for if they found it?
A: Writing letters of disapproval is the first thing that comes to mind. The Old Steeple is a venue that hosts different shows. Lost Coast Pride is a non-profit organization trying to host a fundraising drag show. Both are public entities that would benefit, I would think, from advertising the name of the organizers and the location of the event. I don’t understand. I know the Old Steeple was bothered that I mentioned them by name on St. Mark’s sign, but it seems like it would be free advertising. That’s the line of reasoning a bunch of their advocates used when they called to harass me about the sign. “Thanks for promoting the show. Can’t wait to go!”Rev. Tyrel Bramwell, Pastor, St. Mark Evangelical Lutheran Church Ferndale, CA
Q: “He refused to do so [remove the signage language] unless we required Lost Coast Pride to make their show adults only, at which point he would remove “kids” but still call us out by name for having a drag show.” What would you consider to be the primary issue of having an adult-only drag show in your community?
A: As I touched on above, drag itself, regardless of age, poses a number of problems related to idolatry, but that aside I think everyone should be concerned about drag because of the way it objectifies women. It disrespects the uniqueness of the sexes, especially women, and makes a mockery of what it means to be feminine and masculine, respectively. Why is blackface bad but woman-face is okay?Rev. Tyrel Bramwell, Pastor, St. Mark Evangelical Lutheran Church Ferndale, CA
Q: Re comments on lostcoastoutpost.com article: Posted by: Rivera, “There were men of the cloth, men of faith busted for going out and trying to have intercourse with minors [but] I’ve never seen a drag queen ever prosecuted.” What is your stance on the sexual abuse scandals that have come out of various religious institutions?
A: All sexual abuse is horrendous. When these sins are carried out by clergy, not only are the immediate victims hurt but so is the entire church. I publicized my views on this issue in the Times-Standard in September 2018 when “Pennsylvania’s Predator Priests” scandalized the church.Rev. Tyrel Bramwell, Pastor, St. Mark Evangelical Lutheran Church Ferndale, CA
Q: Comment Posted by: Rivera, “He said the Lost Coast Pride event was going to be an all-ages show, not a “drag show for kids”. Is there any significant difference in your eyes between an all-ages show and a “drag show for kids.”?
A: No. Under the label all-ages, it could be accurately said that the drag show is “for adults.” Based on the same logic, if it’s for all ages, it can be said that it’s also “for kids.” Using the for kids language on the marquee gets to the most pressing concern. There are other concerns, as I’ve said, but the most pressing one that I wanted to warn my neighbors about was that this was not only for adults but also for kids.Rev. Tyrel Bramwell, Pastor, St. Mark Evangelical Lutheran Church Ferndale, CA
Q: Comment Posted by: River “I don’t understand how we’ve let one man and one church spew so much hate .” What do you think Riviera means by saying “let” in this statement? What would not letting voice to your opinion look like?Rev. Tyrel Bramwell, Pastor, St. Mark Evangelical Lutheran Church Ferndale, CA
A: That’s an interesting statement, isn’t it? I don’t know what Riviera means. I’m going to put the best construction on his statement, show him grace and, say he didn’t mean “let,” just as I’m going to assume he didn’t mean “hate.” Both words are inaccurate in his statement.
Rev. Tyrel Bramwell, Pastor
St. Mark Evangelical Lutheran Church