Community members of Evansville, Indiana, have organized a GoFundMe page for pastor Craig Duke, who was featured in an episode of HBO’s series We’re Here.
Duke, a pastor from the United Methodist Church in Indiana was allegedly “relieved of pastoral duties” after his appearance on the show in drag, according to a statement from the church.
"Unfortunately, Craig's participation in this show caused much turmoil in the church that he was serving at the time and ultimately lead to him being 'relieved of pastoral duties' at that church," a statement on the GoFundMe page read.
"Craig will continue with a significantly reduced salary until no later than February 28. Obviously, this poses a major challenge to Craig and his family as they determine their next steps," it continued.
We’re Here features drag queens Shangela, Bob the Drag Queen and Eureka traveling across the country encouraging locals to participate in a drag show while also promoting a safe and inclusive space for LGBTQ+ residents.
Recently, the trio traveled to Evansville in a Season 2 episode that debuted last month to “help Methodist Pastor Craig promote LGBTQ equality to his congregants.” Duke received a drag makeover and even performed a Kesha song during the episode.
He was nominated to participate in the show by the River City Pride organization, according to a GoFundMe and fundraiser organizers call Duke an “ally for the LGBTQIA+ community.”
After news broke, town locals, fans and stars of the show responded. Shangela posted a heartfelt video on Instagram on Monday, calling for supporters to take a stand.
“Rev. Craig Duke aka “Pastor Craig” who appeared as part of our @werehere show has been bullied by a large portion of his church congregation out of his role (or with relieved duties) because of his showcase of love for the LGBTQ+ community. Let’s take a stand." she captioned the post. "This is not right y’all. #IStandWithPastorCraig."
Meanwhile, Eureka tweeted, "Craig is an amazing person and deserves the same love that he shares with everyone around him,” along with an article regarding Duke's situation.
The GoFundMe page also says that Craig and his wife Linda “ would love to use some of this money to begin some kind of inclusive ministry whether it be a new and affirming church or a faith based camping experience for LGBTQIA+ youth/families.”
As of December 7, the donation page has raised over $50,000.Happy Holidays! Be sure to grab Drag Society’s latest curation to make your celebrations sleigh!