Open Buddha

Open Source Buddhism, Technology, and Geekery
Bay Area, California

The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence

I was flipping through a scrapbook of my wife’s tonight and came across a lot of pictures of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence there. I’m a fan of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. I have been since the first time I encountered them, probably at some Pride Day event while living in Seattle. It may seem odd that I am a fan of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. I am, after all, a straight guy from Seattle. My idea of high fashion in my youth was a denim jacket and/or flannel.

That said, I’ve always been a fan of both camp and a willingness to tweak the nose of the powers that be. I’m also a big proponent of gay rights and an end to the often violent discrimination that many have received for the simple fact that the objects of their desire are seen as somehow horrible. The Sisters are very obvious (hard to miss in a crowd!) and seem to have an amazingly polarizing effect on people, especially ex or current Catholics. People seem to either love them to death or to entirely loathe them with very little in between.

The Sisters have been in the news a bit lately. First, the Catholic League got their knickers in a twist over the Folsom Street Fair in San Francisco. They complained that the Sisters were blasphemous and a mockery of Catholicism. While, in some sense, that may be true, I also know that many of the Sisters are actually Catholic and that they are a charity organization. They do a lot of good and raise a lot of money. Later, Bill O’Reilly got himself lathered up to a fine sweat (mmm hmmm) because a pair of Sisters “invaded” the Catholic Church in the Castro and dared to receive communion there. Of course, this is the same church where, until recently, the Sisters ran the Wednesday Bingo Night and many are members of the Church.

The Sisters are not the wavefront of the tsunami which is the culture war of San Francisco Values (tm) against good, wholesome America. They are a mostly a bunch of gay men who where fabulous costumes, raise money for charity, and have a really good time doing it. I don’t begrudge people like Bill O’Reilly the right to exist in America. It’s a big country. What I don’t understand is this seeming fascist-like desire to impose “proper” culture on all places in America. Must everything look like Kansas or North Dakota? It would seem to me that a diverse nation and culture is better for all of us. If you don’t like San Francisco or the West Coast, stay where you are or move to a place more suitable for your values. We won’t mind. After all, plenty of refugees from these places arrive on the West Coast every year, yearning for something other than an environment that hates them, often for the simple fact that they are gay or even simply a bit weird.

On that, I’ll close on a different note. Unbeknownst to many,  not all of the Sisters are men (or at least, they haven’t always been men). There have been a few choice Sisters who are actually sisters. In earlier years, my wife and another ex-girlfriend of mine (whom I just saw on Friday) were also members of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. This is why I came across those pictures this evening. I leave you with one of the pictures from there, which is of my wife:

r-as-sister