Sister Unity (found on Facebook) responds to a self-professed gay male Roman Catholic political activist who accused Sisters (as in, of Perpetual Indulgence) of ‘mocking nuns‘ and putting the fight for equality at risk by offending all members of that religious faith tradition. In comments on a Facebook post Sister discounts the charges:
1] Sisters are not insulting nuns,
2] Not all Catholics are offended,
3] Such Catholics as are offended won’t defeat our fight for equality,
And he closes with a reminder that the Catholic Corporation (my term, not hers) has no ‘moral high ground‘ in regards to the rights of queer people. He has graciously allowed me to quote her words here as a guest post:
No, I’m sorry but you are incorrect. Thousands of Catholics adore our shenanigans, honor our work and vote with us on the equal rights we all deserve. A fair number of our Sisters ARE Catholics. Yes, practicing. The Jesuits in particular have been lovely to us, laughing with us and discussing the ancient Catholic tradition of secular satire of the church, used by the church to keep itself fresh and free from calification and unnecessary dogma. We have countless stories of nuns’ approbation. Sure some get their panties in a knot, (it’s always the converts that get hot – the born-and-raised folk LOVE us) but then they aren’t so fond of either your or my dick sucking either.
Time was they preferred burning us alive. We’ve rather had enough of that. If you can’t stand fag drag spiritualists, close your eyes. And puhlease let go of patronizing us. 36 years, 10 countries and 36 US cities, hundreds of thousands of dollars to LGBT charities, leading roles in major activist movements from Prop 8 to the Facebook debacle to the AIDS Quilt to organizing and leading the world’s first candlelight vigil for AIDS… The ship has left the dock. We’re queer nuns. You can like it or lump it, but its what’s going on. No queen gets left behind, not the trans girls working the boulevard, not drag queen teens, not leathermen, not even gay Catholics. No more closets for anyone. You’re going to have to explain to your Catholic folks that some of us gay people are REALLY gay. Like…. GAY gay. Not just gay.
They’re gonna find out sooner or later, some of us want our archetypes back. We aren’t sure they used them so well.
Often it is the case that hard working, devoted political workers retain focus on the machinations and strategies and relationships necessary within the central locii of power and governance which detaches awareness from the real politik of field activists and everyday people living the truths of the movement. HRC is often accused of this. The fact that drag queens do exist, that the Sisters have 36 years of work, reputation, and community relationships butts up against how politics wants to work, against the often important adage of running clean and clear. However, those in the locii enrich their efforts immeasurably if they return to the field and imbibe the truths founds with people living the lives this movement is about. It does indeed make the work harder at the top; it is indeed messy.
You now have the job of explaining the Sisters to your constituents who may have hair trigger defensive reactions. However, that inconvenience and difficulty does not and should not erase the fact that hairy chested men with beards (and others) dress up like fag nuns and serve their communities with joy, silliness, satirical sexuality, flamboyance, and love. They just do. Those in the locii have the opportunity to meet these creative expressions of life and understand them for what they are: expressions of life, creativity, self, and, dare I say, a very American exercise of liberty (1st Amendment, y’all). It is, I think, a fools errand to tell it to be quiet for political expedience. Everyone is going to find out sooner or later that some of us wear dresses and flail our glitter bespangled wrists around. We must meet our opponents as we are in all our diversity. Equality is for everyone. Now. Martin Luther King did not march for the light skinned first and the darker later.
Your argument is that we may alienate 24% of the voting religious. While I’m sure it is accurate,
1) it is potential. Their total reaction is unmeasured,
2) that leaves 75% of the voting religious, an increasing amount of whom accept us now: MCC, Unity CC, Lutherans, Methodists, Episcopalians, Unitarian Universalists, etc.
Not to mention the now vast majority of the American public who accept us. Just this morning NPR reported 75% approval rating for Gay Marriage.
My advice might be, it is known that the Sisters do good work. Let that mitigate any adverse reaction to supposed offense. As we ourselves have known time and time again: laughter and our service have changed even hard minds against us into sympathetic allied minds and hearts appreciating our assistance. Engagement has always won the day with segregation and bigotry. Hiding has never done so; it weakens a movement. Hiding is what NoM’s founder does. Let’s not do that. Let’s be us as we are and engage our fellow citizens.
And I can’t take your writing seriously. Quoting the Daily Mail is equivalent to quoting the National Enquirer. Name calling (“If you were really smart (which you’re not)“)? No rebuttal of the points made to you other than to repeat your contention about mocking Catholic nuns (which is allayed with a one word argument, “Satire“), an ad hominem attack accusing us of grand standing as though we didn’t know we are doing that, as though it were a bad thing, and ignorant of how we use it to promote equal rights, care for homeless LGBT teens and to raise money for underfunded charities, and then this high handed thing about us not being Gandhi (I have more in common with Gandhiji than you, Madame) as though we are trying to be anything other than the profane, absurd, unacceptable faggot clowns that we are – these chosen, these proudly held prejudices negate credibility and leave no space for an accurate critique of us well worded and thoughtfully presented.
The argument, the one argument presented with any merit is that we alienate Catholic voters. My own response (I will not speak for an entire 1,000 person order) is that I do not care whether the adherents to the institution that reviles me, killed my kind, tortured my kind, humiliates us, degrades us, moves against our equal rights at every opportunity in every nation on Earth, while they themselves, as you rightly say, practice the same sexuality (owning Rome’s biggest gay sex bathhouse for God’s sake!) .. I do not care whether or not they are offended. I have work to do. My tools are my look, my humor, and my team. The flamboyance is a lighthouse beacon guiding the lost to help and the helpful to the lost. And the Nun identity is our reclamation of a role Catholics stole from us when they took over Rome. READ YOUR HISTORY! The Pope and Cardinals are wearing our drag, our ancient, Roman, sacred drag! They took it as surely as they took the floor plans of the Roman temples for the floor plans of the Cathedrals. (source: “L’Erotisme d’en Face” Raymond De Becker, 1964) It is the women to whom you refer who ought to welcome us and thank us joining them in revival of the archetype they borrowed more than 1,500 years ago.
If they want to stamp their feet and vote my rights away, let them try: I’m a bit busy saving the lives and psyches of the children they got thrown out of their own homes and families. I’m busy getting sex education to the youths, men and women, whom they hamstring with ignorance and dangerous platitudes, before they contract HIV, among other diseases, because no one allowed them the simple knowledge that would have prevented infection. I would think the wake of calamity left behind this institution would cause some humility, but as Gandhi once said, “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”
Unity also reminds me of her 2008 youTube video: