Homo History: The Sisterhood

Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, Inc. via Facebook.
Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, Inc. via Facebook.

A few days ago, a federal judge in Florida temporarily blocked a new law allowing the state to penalize businesses that admit children to “adult live performances” such as drag shows. Judge Gregory A. Presnell of the Federal District Court in Orlando issued a preliminary injunction blocking the new law, which went into effect last month. The Republican-controlled Legislature passed the measure in April. Gov. Ron DeSantis, who is running for president, has made anti-LGBTQ policies central to his agenda, signed the legislation in late May.  

As drag queens come under attack it is imperative that we continue to support them as they have been a central part of the LGBTQ community. And because of this let's focus on The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence and what they have done thru the years for our benefit. 

The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, also called Order of Perpetual Indulgence, is a charity, protest, and street performance organization that uses drag and religious imagery to satirize issues of sex, gender, and morality (particularly Christian perspectives on these topics) and fund raiser for charity. Upon their move to San Francisco from Iowa City in 1979, a small group of gay men in San Francisco began wearing the attire of Catholic nuns in visible situations using camp to promote various social and political causes in the Castro District. The Castro was also known for the outrageous characters who were 1970s mainstays, such as Jesus Christ Satan and The Cosmic Lady, who endeared themselves to local residents with their unique perspectives, particularly during street events such as the Castro Street Fair and Halloween in the Castro. On Easter weekend 1979, three men dressed as nuns with habits they had procured from a convent in Iowa under the guise that they were going to stage a presentation of The Sound of Music, made their appearance on Castro Street. 

Throughout the organization's history there have been a number of conflicts with Christian communities. The group has been characterized by some Catholics (including the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights) as anti-Catholic and a hate-group for impersonating and mocking Catholic practices and beliefs, including religious sisters

In October, 1980, the dozen or so erstwhile nuns held their first fundraiser, a bingo game and salsa dance that was well-attended in large part because of the write-up in The San Francisco Chronicle by Herb Caen the same day, who printed their organization name, the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. The benefit was for San Francisco's Metropolitan Community Church Cuban Refugee Program, and it netted $1,500 ($3,906 in 2009). 

The Sisters have grown throughout the U.S., Canada, Australia, Europe, and South America, and are currently organized as an international network of orders, which are mostly registered as non-profit charity organizations that raise money for AIDS, LGBT-related causes, and mainstream community service organizations, while promoting safer sex and educating others about the harmful effects of drug use and other high risk behaviors. They have also protested many Christians, and specifically Catholic, events including the visit of Pope John Paul II to the United States. 

 

 

The Sisters have been involved in various causes, including the promotion of safer sex, raising money for HIV/AIDS and breast cancer research, the Gay Games, Haight Ashbury Free Clinics, and raising the "first legal $1,000" for a city proposition to legalize medical marijuana. Sister Roma organized a "Stop the Violence" campaign in the Castro where the Sisters distributed placards in homes and businesses to signify which were safe places to go, and whistles to be used to alert those nearby in case of attack. They have sponsored dances for LGBT youth, and given to or worked for a variety of similar objectives. 

The self-declared goal of the Sisters is to assist the LGBT community and offer it "absolution from guilt." 

As our DeSantis HIT (Hitler In Training) continues to push annihilation of schools' curriculums, especially history, and picks his fight with drag queens in Kentucky a month ago a teacher from Pulaski County, allowed a student to dress in a KKK costume for a history project. A video surfaced of a middle school student riding the school bus in full hood and robe regalia.  The student had asked if he could dress up as Confederate army general Nathan Bedford Forest, the OG Ku Klux Klan grand wizard. Allegedly, he was given permission by his teacher to do so for extra credit on an assignment. Talk about drag. Amazingly the teacher was suspended. De Santis would have given her a medal. 

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