Pura Luka Vega, wearing a wedding gown.

The Arrest of Filipino Drag Queen Pura Luka Vega is a War on Drag

Politicians and agitated Christians in the Philippines have gotten what they wanted. Drag Performer Pura Luka Vega was taken into police custody on October 4, 2023, for failing to attend preliminary investigations. Their crime, aside from slaying as Jesus in drag, is violating Article 201 of the Revised Penal Code of the Philippines. Article 201 “safeguards the morality of [Philippine] society” from supposedly immoral doctrines, obscene publications and exhibitions, and indecent shows. Many Christians are celebrating this arrest, but there are those who wish to free the drag queen. Manila Luzon, Ru Paul’s Drag Race alum and Drag Den Philippines host, took to Twitter to support Pura Luka Vega.

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Pura Luka Vega, whose name off the stage is Amadeus Fernando Pagente, was a Drag Den Philippines Season 1 participant. They rose to notoriety after performing a remix of The Lord’s Player in a bar while cosplaying as Jesus Christ. The video made rounds on the internet, and the Catholic and Christian majority decried the performance as “blasphemy,” among other things.

The Lord’s Prayer is often regarded as the most important prayer for Christians, and outraged Christian leaders who saw the performance as a slight against their religion sued Pura Luka Vega for their performance with the aforementioned charge.

But even with a Roman Catholic majority, the Philippines does not have an established state religion and prohibits the establishment of one. To say that one group has a monopoly over the morality of Philippine society is not just inaccurate, but it also sets a dangerous precedent against minority communities. Giving credence to religious leaders to arrest drag queens like Pura Luka Vega is a war on drag as well as the freedom of expression of minority voices. Christians can feel offended by how their Jesus was portrayed by Pura, but Pura has committed no real injury to society. The ones who did cause substantial and consequential harm to society were the politicians who declared Pura as persona non grata in several localities.

The arrest of Pura emboldens intolerance and outright discrimination against non-believers and the LGBTQ+ community in the Philippines. While Roman Catholics and Christians fear that God might smite them for letting a drag queen dance to prayers in religious garb, they’ve already cast stones and impeded the freedom of a less-powerful artist whom they simply couldn’t agree to disagree with.


The vitriol of these angry Christians for this “infamous” drag queen would’ve been better utilized against public officials who pilfer funds for their gain, but that’s a separate discussion for another day. Pura Luka Vega’s Instagram account posted their bank details for bail donations. While the Philippines rags on a drag queen, Pope Francis II himself is allowing the Catholic doctrine to evolve and is welcoming changes that are beneficial for LGBTQ+ individuals.

(featured image: Pura Luka Vega)

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Vanessa Esguerra
Vanessa Esguerra (She/They) has been a Contributing Writer for The Mary Sue since 2023. After graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Economy, she (happily) rejected law school in 2021 and has been a full-time content writer since. Vanessa is currently taking her Master's degree in Japanese Studies in hopes of deepening her understanding of the country's media culture in relation to pop culture, women, and queer people like herself. She speaks three languages but still manages to get lost in the subways of Tokyo with her clunky Japanese. Fueled by iced coffee brewed from local cafés in Metro Manila, she also regularly covers anime and video games while queuing for her next match in League of Legends.

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