A play depicting Jesus Christ as a transgender "woman" is about to go up in Belfast, Northern Ireland.
"The Gospel According to Jesus Queen of Heaven" is slated to be performed on Nov. 15 at the Outburst Queer Arts Festival in Belfast. The play’s creator is Jo Clifford, a transgender person.
"The play imagines a transgender Jesus coming back to the world today," Clifford told BBC News. "She pitches a sermon and tells a few very familiar Gospel stories. Obviously being a transgender woman myself it concerns me very greatly that religious people so often use Christianity as a weapon to attack us and justify the prejudices against us. I wanted to see if we could move away from that and make people think again."
"She has a communion, shares bread and wine with the audience, which is really a gesture of solidarity in the face of death, and she gives a blessing," Clifford added.
“The Gospel According to Jesus Queen of Heaven” caused protests when it was staged in 2009, with close to 300 protesters rallying in opposition by candlelight outside a theater in Glasgow, Scotland. The demonstrators sang hymns and carried placards with messages reading: "Jesus, King of Kings, Not Queen of Heaven" and "God: My Son Is Not A Pervert."
At the time of the 2009 protest, Pastor Jack Bell of Zion Baptist Church in Glasgow said, "If this play had treated the prophet Muhammed in the same way there would have been a strong reaction from the Islamic community, but that just wouldn't happen."