An actor who has played Jesus in a Spanish Easter parade has been banned because he is, “too gay.”
The actor, Ramon Fossati, said that he has been ousted from his annual performance in Valencia as Jesus, because he bared one shoulder and waved his arms in a way that was too “ostentatious” last year.
Fossati has been portraying Jesus in the parade for 30 years, according to The Independent.
In what amounted to a verbal flogging, The Junta Mayor de Semana Santa Marinera, which governs the brotherhoods in Valencia organizing the Easter Parade, told Fossati that he was banned this weekend, and would not be allowed to play Jesus again until 2019.
Fossati had exposed a naked shoulder, which was heavily frowned upon by the brotherhoods.
“It could be jealousy,” Fossati mused.
The parade officials accused Fossati of giving “false blessings” to the crowd and waving in “parody.”
But the actor said that he had merely waved to the crowd, and he had modeled his clothing to match traditional religious paintings, which showed Jesus as bare-shouldered. He had refrained from exposing both shoulders to keep from being too provocative.
“Maybe it is punishment for being gay. But everyone where I live knows my sexual orientation, and it is not an issue.”
Fossati was slapped with a fine of €300 ($334.95), but he was able to reduce it to €60 ($66.99) after appealing the decision.
Valencia’s Maritime Holy Week began with Catholic traditions in the 15th century. It is strictly regulated and discourages anything considered too risque. Women have been fined for showing too much cleavage or wearing dresses shorter than knee length. They are asked to dress in black, to show proper respect. They are encouraged to wear a traditional Spanish headdress called a mantilla, with a high comb and a lace or silk veil that cascades down, covering the hair and shoulders.
— Love Xàtiva. Tours. (@EstherPolop) March 15, 2016
The processions during Holy Week are held to tell the story of Jesus. The ValenciaValencia.com Culture Guide explains that the parade “is not a formless mob of followers. It is a precisely structured piece, full of rules and symbolism.”
“The heart of the procession, the very core is the imagen (image) – a sacred sculpture of a Biblical scene, elevated on a high stand, to which the Brotherhood is dedicated. The imagen also gives the meaning to the procession, it can act as the main actor of the stage. For example the Encounter of Mouther and Son Resurrected on Easter Sunday is a ritual of two imagenes brought close together – one of Mary and one of Jesus.”
Each procession may feature different actors as Biblical characters: Pontius Pilate, Herrod, and of course Jesus. Most of them carry some type of symbol. The image is a sculpture on a decorated platform, considered a sort of walking throne. They are revered as the most sacred part of the procession. Each day during the Holy Week tells a different story about the life of Christ.
Good Friday is the only day they proceed all in one chronological and very solemn group. It is the Day of Burial.
VisitValencia.com describes a “peculiar tradition,” the “trencà perols,” which takes place at midnight on Easter Saturday.
“People throw old pots and tableware and water from their windows and balconies, in stark contract with traditional Catholic Easter liturgies.”
Fossati being prevented from playing Jesus this year has thrown social media into a barrage about gay rights. He is clearly upset about being left out of the parade.
“I am deeply religious and this is the worst thing that could happen.”
[Image via Alberto Saiz/Associated Press]