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Drag Queen Bingo

Posted June 10, 2017

drag queen dancing

“Wanna go to bingo?”

Wait, what? I asked my friend to repeat her invitation. She's young and trendy, and I couldn't believe she had said bingo.

“It's a fund raiser.”

Oh, okay. My church had been talking about fund raising ideas, and bingo was on the list. I figured I could do some research while I was in Kansas City, soon to be my new home, while I was in town to find an apartment a couple of weeks ago.

So we met at this hamburger joint near downtown Kansas City for bingo.

With drag queens.

Yes, Drag Queen Bingo. Who would have expected this in the heart of America?

A place called Hamburger Mary's specializes in drag queens. I'm don't know why. But drag queens perform at dinners and a weekend brunch there, and four times a week, they organize bingo games to raise money for local non-profits.

The crowd, as far as I could tell, were salt of the earth Midwesterners who didn't seem to care what the fund raiser was for. They only wanted the bingo, food and drinks, and drag queens.

Some were in big groups, as if this is the place you bring company when they come to town.

I know I will.

drag queen calling bingoOur particular drag queen was hilarious, and the bingo was, well, racy. I didn't know bingo could be blue, but yes indeedy.

At one point, she stopped the game and performed a mildly raunchy song (see picture above). She was not the most beautiful drag queen I've ever seen (a limited sampling, to be sure), but her makeup was impeccable and her sassy hair-toss was well-practiced.

What does this have to do with spirituality?

I was struck by the abundant creativity necessary to be a drag queen. Clothes, makeup, hair, singing and dancing. They carefully cultivate a persona, simply to express themselves and entertain others.

My question is: What do you do for self-expression?

Paint, write, sing, knit? Plant gardens, design software, create video games? Build ships in bottles? Make balloon animals?

Creative expression doesn't require a costume or a performance. It also doesn't have to be your paid work. For all I know, the drag queens at HamBingo are accountants or construction workers by day.

I'm talking about a vocation or a calling, the reasons you were put on earth.

Your creative purpose isn't hard to find. What do you do naturally that brings you joy? That will be a clue.

You have to hand it to the drag queens -- they express their creativity without reservation or shyness.

What would it look like if you shared yourself with the world at that level of exuberance?

And what is the world missing if you don't?

I think somehow the drag queens offer us permission to let loose and be who we came here to be. That's how we express the divine – by living on purpose and doing what we love.

Whether it requires a wig or not.


How Do You Say Goodbye?

Posted June 2, 2017

Charlie Brown

Are you good at goodbyes?

I don't think many of us are.

Consider the long goodbye in the open doorway, where some people talk for another half-hour before they actually get in their cars and drive away.

Or the awkwardness of saying goodbye on the phone. When all topics have been exhausted, someone will say:

Well, great to talk to you.

Yeah, don't wait so long next time!

We'll have to get together soon.

I know! Have a great day.

You, too.

Talk again soon.


Oh! One more thing I meant to tell you . . .

I've been saying goodbye a lot lately as I leave one job and city for another.

But it's rarely a real goodbye. Most people don't seem to want to say the word goodbye.

So there's a lot of cheerfulness. Oh, you'll be back! We'll see you again.

Or, We're coming up there to visit you!

We'll stay in touch.

That might be true, and I hope it is. But after moving many times, I can tell you that staying in touch happens a lot less often than we promise it will.


When I left the newspaper world to go to seminary 20 years ago, I went up to the big boss's office for one last chat. At the end, he shook my hand firmly and said, “Goodbye.”

It was final. We both knew it was highly unlikely we would ever talk again, but he actually acknowledged it.

I was so startled that I've remembered it ever since. It was such a departure from the norm.

Personally, my heart broke every time a colleague left, and we always promised to keep in touch or get together for a visit.

But the big boss had seen scores of reporters come and go from the newsroom, and he probably enjoyed watching them fly out of the nest. His work was done.

We say that people come into our lives for a reason, a season, or a lifetime. But that means not every relationship will last forever. I think we have a hard time acknowledging when a reason or season has ended.

Would saying goodbye be easier if we were frank about it?

What if we hugged and said, “I know I'll probably never see you again. I've enjoyed our time together and wish you all the best.”

Or, “You have been a truly good friend to me, and I'm grateful.”

Instead, we're likely to say, “Oh, I'll see you again before you leave town.”

Or, “I've got your email address. We'll stay in touch.”

We rarely use the word goodbye. We don't like to admit this is the end of something that has been meaningful.


Why are we so skittish about saying goodbye?

I think the obvious reason is that we don't want to feel the sadness of separation.

And this is where people get really squirrely.

Once you tell friends you will be leaving, some pull away or even drop you like a hot potato. It's as if they're racing you to get out the door, diminishing the friendship so goodbye won't be so painful.

Others find reasons to become angry. I know this is human nature, but it surprises me every time.

Of course, most don't say, “I'm angry that you're leaving. I feel abandoned, and it's going to leave a hole in my life.” Or even, “This is massively inconvenient for me!”

They just start to find fault. Pick, pick, pick. They convince themselves they have real reasons to be miffed. You weren't so special anyway.

This also can happen to the person who is leaving. Suddenly you notice those little things you never really liked about a person or place. Or you secretly exult that you won't have to worry about certain problems anymore. Let someone else handle it!

It's easier to leave someone you're mad at. If you're mad enough, you might not have to say goodbye at all.

So faults are found, and small slights become major fractures.

It's exhausting and confusing, but I guess it's one way to avoid that ripped-apart feeling.


I'm not sure what to do about all this except to be more mindful when it's time to say goodbye.

To acknowledge the end of a reason or season. To be grateful for everything that has gone before.

We handle this better when someone dies.

“I'm so glad I had a chance to say goodbye.” We hear it often. Or, “I wish I could have been there at the end.”

We want to acknowledge the ending when there's a death. We know it's important to speak our final words.

At a deathbed, we might reminisce about good times, or have a chance to patch up old wounds and misunderstandings. Sometimes we forgive.

Saying the final goodbye doesn't mean we forget them after they're gone. Quite the opposite. Sometimes those last moments together become the most tender and warm of our memories.

So maybe our goodbyes when someone moves away should be like a wake, a celebration of all we have meant to each other, knowing we will each be starting new chapters.

Farewells are part of the human experience. So are feelings of sadness and loss when those we love are gone. We miss an important aspect of living, I think, if we pretend this really isn't goodbye.

Besides, we're all one. We will always be connected, even if we never see each other again.

Just as in death, the relationship continues. It is only changing form.


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