The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence (SPI), also called Order of Perpetual Indulgence (OPI) is a charity, protest, and street performance organization that uses drag and religious imagery to call attention to sexual intolerance and satirizes issues of gender and morality. At their inception in 1979, a small group of gay men in San Francisco began wearing the attire of nuns in visible situations using camp to draw attention to social conflicts and problems in the Castro District.
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 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 risky behaviors. In San Francisco alone where they continue to be the most active, between 1979 and 2007 the Sisters are credited with raising over $1 million for various causes, or almost $40,000 on average per year.
Early members of the group, while not hiding their masculine features or facial hair, are characterized by San Francisco gay community historian Susan Stryker as the embodiment of "genderfuck". Their appearance has changed over the years; the nun motif remains the same, but it has been joined with exaggerated make-up that accentuates the rebellion against gender roles and religion. The Sisters have attracted controversy both within and outside the LGBT communities, but have received the harshest criticism for obvious parodies of Catholic icons and policies.
|Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence|
|Founded||1979, San Francisco, California, United States|
|Method||Events, Campaigning, Advocacy, Charity|
The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence made their first appearance on Castro Street in San Francisco in 1979. Their approach and appearance was not new or extraordinary for the place or time. Starting in the 1960s, the Castro District began transitioning from a working class Irish Catholic district going through significant economic decline. A gay bar opened on Market Street and gradually, gay men began to migrate to the neighborhood. By 1977, between 100,000 and 200,000 had moved to San Francisco from all over the United States, changing the political and cultural profile of the city. The migration created a gay community in the city with enough political clout to elect a gay representative to city government, Harvey Milk.
Two theater troupes, The Cockettes and the Angels of Light, formed in San Francisco in the late 1960s and focused their entertainment on mocking popular culture through drag, embracing drugs, and free sex in the counterculture of the 1960s. The Cockettes performed regularly at the Palace Theater in the city's North Beach district as part of the late-night "Nocturnal Emissions" series and developed a strong following that would also dress in drag and ascribe to recreational drug use at their shows. One of their more high-profile performances was a parodic recreation of the 1971 wedding of Tricia Nixon—President Nixon's daughter—and Edward F. Cox, both characters of course played by men in women's clothes. Director John Waters called the Cockettes "hippie acid freak drag queens", whose first non-San Francisco appearance was at a New York City show with an audience full of celebrities who reacted with complete confusion to the performance. With their rising success came philosophical differences with The Angels of Light who broke off to present free shows, but who similarly employed drag and theater to satirize issues of gender and morality. The Angels of Light first appeared in a mock nativity scene at Grace Cathedral's Christmas Eve midnight mass in 1970. Both groups employed a sense of high camp: outrageous scenes and sets, fantastic costumes, movie references and bad puns, and intentionally bad acting combined with deliberately bad drag, which diverted from previous female impersonators whose mark of quality was realism.
The Castro was also known for the outrageous characters who were 1970s mainstays, such as Jesus Christ Satan and The Cosmic Lady, who endeared 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. They followed with appearances at a nude beach, a softball game and the annual Castro Street Fair.
At the same time, religious participation in politics appeared in the late 1970s with the activism of Anita Bryant, and Jerry Falwell's establishment of the Moral Majority. The Castro District had been publicized nationally as a major gay neighborhood and was targeted by several dozen church members who took weekly trips to preach to the residents about the immorality of homosexuality. In August 1980, a dozen men dressed in 14th century Belgian nun's robes and habits, and according to one participant using the name Sister Missionary Position, "a teensy bit of make-up so as not to be dowdy on a Friday night", met the proselytizers where a chase ensued and attracted an audience of gay supporters who heckled the preachers until they left.
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 began making regular appearances at Castro events that focused on sexual tolerance or provided a showcase for drag. They also developed a mission statement:
The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence is a leading-edge Order of queer nuns. Since our first appearance in San Francisco on Easter Sunday, 1979, the Sisters have devoted ourselves to community service, ministry and outreach to those on the edges, and to promoting human rights, respect for diversity and spiritual enlightenment. We believe all people have a right to express their unique joy and beauty and we use humor and irreverent wit to expose the forces of bigotry, complacency and guilt that chain the human spirit.
Members of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence include people who identify with a variety of sexual orientations and genders, although the majority are gay men. Joining an order mirrors the steps for joining an actual order of nuns. Potential members are encouraged to attend organizational meetings as aspirants, and told that if they are not intending to make a lifelong commitment they should seriously reconsider. After showing intent and being approved by the order, an aspirant is promoted to a postulant and is expected to learn about the history of the organization and continue to work behind the scenes for at least six months. Postulants are not allowed to wear nun's attire, but may instead dress in "festive garb that fits in with Order", according to the Sisters' website. If the members approve of the postulant, a fully indoctrinated member may act as a sponsor and the postulant is promoted to a novice. Novices are allowed to wear white veils and whiteface make-up. This phase lasts another six months during which the novice is expected to work within the organization and plan an event. If three-fourths of the order agrees, the novice is promoted to a full member of the group.
After their inception, the Sisters soon spread to other cities within the U.S. as a loosely connected network of mostly autonomous houses. There are thirteen houses and six missions in various cities across the U.S. Globally, 600 members work for established houses or missions in Australia, Canada, Colombia, France, Germany, Scotland, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and Uruguay. The San Francisco Founding House anchors much of the activities and continues to be the largest and most well-funded. The San Francisco House (SPI, Inc.) also holds the registered trademarks for "Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence" and the "laughing nun head" logo.
Only in San Francisco could the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence not only make their first appearance, but become interwoven in the cultural and political fabric of the city, according to scholar Cathy Glenn in the journal Theory and Event. Glenn uses the examples of San Francisco as a society of hyperpluralism, where all the groups who have called the city their home have successfully maintained their individual identities, creating a culture defined by counterculture and at times marked by political violence. The Sisters use Catholic imagery as simultaneous inspiration and fodder for parody through camp. They choose names based on the process of renaming women inducted into Catholic orders, but that suggest sexual promiscuity or that are based in absurdity: Sister Anita Blowjob, Sister GladAss of the Joyous Reserectum, Sister Hellena Handbasket, Sister Sensible Shoes, and Sister Homo Celestial, among others. They wear wimples, habits, and robes of nuns, but accessorize them garishly with baubles, beads, and whiteface make-up. Sister Phyllis Stein, the Fragrant Mistress of Sistory, asserts that there is a clear distinction between drag queens and members of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence: "We're not dressed as girls, we're dressed as nuns... We definitely minister to the spiritual needs of our community, while drag queens sort of focus on camp and fun within our communities. We're very different communities. A lot of people refer to us as drag queens, but we say we're in nun drag. We are nuns."
Sister Irma Geddon of the Portland, Oregon-based Order of Benevolent Bliss offered her view of the efficacy of using nun's clothing and drag: "The lightness of everything, in addition to the whiteface and the nun's habits, are a mechanism to reach out to people. When we're dressed up like that, kind of like sacred clowns, it allows people to interact with us."
The organization of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence occurred at the same time HIV/AIDS began appearing in the Castro District and New York City. Ironically, safe havens during this crisis came in the form of bars such Maud's and Amelia's, which were shut down. Some theories of why they were shut down included a feeling of separation between male gays bars and lesbian bars, so mostly lesbian bars were being shut down. The AIDS crisis sprouted a clean and sober mentality which drove the number of bars down since people believed that bars were places were everyone had AIDS or could get it very easily. Some of the earliest attempts to bring attention to the new disease were staged by the Sisters, both in and out of costume. In 1982, Sister Florence Nightmare, RN (early AIDS activist and registered nurse Bobbi Campbell) and Sister Roz Erection (Baruch Golden a registered nurse) joined with a team of Sisters and medical professionals to create "Play Fair!", the first safer sex pamphlet to use plain language, practical advice and humor, and considered by one of the founders to be "one of the Order's greatest achievements in community education and support". In 1999, for the Sisters' 20th anniversary the pamphlet was revised. The Sisters worldwide continue to raise awareness of sexual health; many Orders regularly pass out condoms and participate in events to educate people on sexual health issues.
Campbell appeared on the cover of Newsweek declaring himself to be the "AIDS poster boy" in 1983. He was active in AIDS education and prevention and split his appearances as himself and Sister Florence Nightmare until his death in 1984. He and three other Castro residents started the AIDS Candlelight Memorial. Losing several members to AIDS in the early 1980s, the Sisters' presence at the 1986 Castro Street Fair was accomplished with less than a dozen members who sponsored a fund-raising and safer sex education booth that featured pie throwing with the slogan "Cream yer Sister, not yer lover!"
Members of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence who have died are referred by the Sisters as "Nuns of the Above". Specific losses due to AIDS are immortalized in the folk art NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt. Created in the early 1990s the quilt has made history several times. It was featured at the 1996 NAMES quilt display in Washington, D.C. in front of the U.S. House of Representatives and was among the first quilts viewed by then Vice President Al Gore and his wife Tipper Gore and later featured in the Names Projects' calendar worldwide. The Nuns of The Above quilt itself has been flown around the United States and is in high demand for local displays. While in town for the AIDS Memorial Quilt display the Sisters led an exorcism of homophobia, classism, and racism on the steps of the United States House of Representatives, and assisted with the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT-UP) death march and protest, to the gates of the White House where ashes of people who had died from AIDS were illegally spread on the lawn.
In 1982, Jack Fertig, known as Sister Boom Boom, ran for San Francisco Board of Supervisors earning over 23,000 votes with her occupation listed as "Nun of the Above". San Francisco passed a law soon after, commonly called the "Sister Boom Boom Law", that all people running for office had to do so with their legal name.
Outlined as one of the Sisters' missions "to promulgate universal joy and to expiate stigmatic guilt", the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence have a history of bringing attention to conservative movements that attempt to shame members of the LGBT community or people with HIV/AIDS. Sisters performed a public exorcism of anti-feminist Phyllis Schlafly that was deliberately timed to take place at Union Square during the 1984 Democratic National Convention, taking place in San Francisco. A Sister dressed as Schlafly was held down as another spoke to the crowd, and other Sisters pulled out rubber snakes from the mock-Schlafly's clothing. Also taking place was Jerry Falwell's Family Forum, hosted by the Moral Majority whose major planks focused on condemning homosexuality, pornography, and abortion. A Sister dressed as Falwell was undressed during the performance to reveal fishnet stockings and a corset in front of an audience of 2,000.
In 1987, their Castro Street Fair presence was a protest of the rhetoric of Lyndon LaRouche, a California politician who advocated for quarantines for people living with AIDS. The Sisters covered their costumes with "Stop LaRouche" buttons, selling them as they mingled in the crowd to raise money for San Francisco General Hospital's AIDS ward. The same year the Sisters held another mock exorcism, this time of Pope John Paul II, coinciding with his visit to San Francisco, calling it the "Official San Francisco Papal Welcoming Committee". The Pope's visit stressed relations between Catholics and gays when Cardinal Ratzinger released an open letter from the Vatican clarifying the Church's position on homosexuality and recent events in San Francisco. The Bay Area Reporter, a local gay weekly newspaper, summarized the intent with their headline, "Pope to Gays: 'Drop Dead' ", and took greatest offense with the Vatican's points that gays cause the violence against them, and that they were primarily responsible for the AIDS crisis. The Sisters claim the action, also taking place in Union Square, earned the organization a spot on the Papal List of Heretics.
Continuing the tradition, members of the San Diego Order have made a presence at a Christian fundamentalist youth revival meeting called Teen Mania Ministries from 2006 to 2008. Sisters Iona Dubble-Wyde and Freeda Sole stood outside the Cox Arena in full regalia to intercept pastors and attendees. The responses from the children and adolescents were varied. While some told the Sisters they were going to hell, others asked questions and offered thanks and hugs; the event was generally reported as positive.
Celebrated even when the Castro was predominantly an Irish Catholic family neighborhood, as the demographics transformed, Halloween in the Castro became a major city event, described by author David Skal as "gay high holy day", attracting thousands of outsiders. On October 31, 1989, two weeks after San Francisco was devastated by the 6.9 MW Loma Prieta earthquake, the Sisters used donation buckets to collect thousands of dollars for the mayor's Earthquake Relief Fund from the Halloween crowds that poured into the Castro neighborhood for the massive street party.
The next year, the Sisters, with the San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus and a group named Community United against Violence, took over the organization of the event for the next five years, drawing larger crowds and collecting for AIDS charities. By 1994 between 300,000 and 400,000 people attended the event. Controlling excesses became too difficult. Violence escalated, claimed by Dahn Van Laarz (Sister Dana van Iquity) to be the result of inebriated gawkers motivated by homophobia. When the police confiscated an AK-47 from a reveler trying to gain access to Castro Street, and they reported that 50 to 60 people had been arrested, the Sisters decided to move the celebration and Halloween in the Castro ended. The next year, the Sisters hosted a costume-mandatory dance named HallowQueen in a South of Market gay nightclub, which raised over $6,000 for charity.
A decade later the city was still struggling to manage the Halloween event. In 2006 nine people were wounded when a gunman opened fire at the celebration; it was canceled in 2007. The Sisters continued to organize private and safe events, raising money every year for charity. Without city funds they managed to keep the chaos under control by providing entertainment and structure. Their abilities for staging and running large events has kept them in demand as event organizers and advisers.
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 $1000" 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.
Using their attire to parody nuns and religious sacrament, some actions of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence have gone further to offend Catholics. As early as 1982 the Catholic Church in San Francisco protested the methods of the Sisters, particularly when they attended an interfaith prayer service at St. Mary's Cathedral. Balking at the stage names of Sister Hysterectoria and Sister Boom Boom, an editorial in a local Catholic magazine named the Monitor stated, "The organization, their names, and their use of religious habits is an affront to religious women and Catholics in general".
Starting in 1995, the Sisters began a Castro Crawl on Easter Sunday to celebrate their anniversary. The event features a 13-stop pub crawl that parodies Stations of the Cross. At each station in front of a gay bar or similarly affiliated organization, the Sisters call out "We adore thee, O Christ" to be answered by their traveling audience in "Luvya, mean it, let's do brunch". Actors portray the Virgin Mary, Mary Magdalene, and other people integral to Easter traditions, and the Sisters continue to educate for safer sex by passing out condoms, ending the event with a toast of vanilla wafers and Jägermeister.
In 1999, San Francisco Supervisor Tom Ammiano came into conflict with some in San Francisco's Catholic community when the Board of Supervisors, at Ammiano's request, granted the Sisters a permit to close a block of Castro Street for their 20th anniversary celebration on Easter Sunday, that included a "Hunky Jesus" contest among other activities. San Francisco's archdiocese requested the event be moved to another day. The city's Interfaith Council suggested the following Sunday, which was the Eastern Orthodox Easter. An Archdiocese newspaper compared the Sisters' event to neo-Nazis celebrating on the Jewish holiday of Passover. The controversy sparked a flurry of responses in The San Francisco Chronicle's Letters to the Editor. The Anti-Defamation League wrote to reply that such a characterization was offensive and "trivializes the horrific actions of hate groups" while others reflected offense at the sacrilege of the Sisters' actions and other writers merely wondered what the fuss was about. The resulting attention ensured a crowd of 5,000 attendees and what the Sisters claimed to be a million dollars of free publicity. In actuality, the event raised about $13,000 for the Tenderloin AIDS Resource Center and the San Francisco LGBT Community Center, among various groups.
The Sisters were featured in a 2008 book titled Catholic and Queer where they explained that their mode of dress was meant not only to employ the "fabulous attire" that had been forsaken by Catholic non-cloistered orders, but that their dedication to community service is an attempt to "honor and emulate [the] unstinting devotion" of actual nuns who work within their neighborhoods.
In August 1999, the Sisters were invited to be Parade Grand Marshals at Reno's first Pride Parade. Nevada's Republican Governor Kenny Guinn, who had signed a bill in May outlawing discrimination against gays and lesbians in Nevada, refused to sign a proclamation in support of the Parade, over concerns that the group "tends to cross the line of decency and appropriateness and would conduct themselves in a manner that would offend people of different religious groups".
Over the years the Sisters have named as saints hundreds of people who have helped on various projects behind the scenes organizing, coordinating actions or projects, performing at events as an artist or emcee or even serving the greater LGBT community. Rarely but sometimes they canonize community heroes who have recently died. It is customary for the Sisters to award sainthood with the addition of an elaborate "saint name". Notable saints include:
The Sisters also award the title of "angels" to those non-members who make contributions to the SPI in some way.
12 Inches of Sin is an annual international juried exhibition of erotic art in Las Vegas. Founded in 2010, it explores human identity, sexuality, gender, and artistic expression. Accepted works include paintings, photographs, digital art, sculpture, illustration, mixed media and short films, but each work must not be larger than 12 inches in any direction (or one foot square). An expert jury of 12 judges chooses 36 artists from submissions. Artists from 26 countries have participated to date.AIDS/LifeCycle
AIDS/LifeCycle (ALC) is a seven-day cycling tour through California starting in San Francisco and ending in Los Angeles.Automatic Pilot
Automatic Pilot was a San Francisco, California band. Created in 1980 by members of the San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus, they were described by The Advocate as "a non-official offshoot" of SFGMC along with three official subgroups. Automatic Pilot soon came into their own as an independent force, creating a niche at the fringe of the nascent gay musical movement and a new musical style.
They achieved notoriety early on with songs such as "Sit On My Face" and "Killer Purses" performed at benefits for the SFGMC, Theatre Rhinoceros, and the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. They derived their name from psychiatric testimony at Dan White's trial for killing Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk.Cuff Complex
Cuff Complex, also known as The Cuff, is a gay bar and nightclub in Seattle, Washington, in the United States.Folsom Europe
Folsom Europe is an annual BDSM and leather subculture street fair held in September in Berlin, Germany. Folsom Europe was established in 2003 in order to bring the non-profit leather festival concept pioneered by the Folsom Street Fair in San Francisco to Europe. Today this is the biggest gay fetish event in Europe together with BLF's "Easter in Berlin" which is held every Easter in Berlin. BLF is the gay leather organisation in Berlin. BLF stands for Berlin Leder und Fetisch e.V. The main area for the two fetish festivals is in Schöneberg. The Folsom Europe street festival is at Fuggerstrasse and Welserstrasse, close to Wittenbergplatz. Each year Folsom Europe is getting bigger and 2013, 10 years from the start, it was bigger than ever. Most of the visitors are gay, but all sexualities are welcome. There are also some fetish weekends in Berlin other times of the year. Some of the big parties under the festival are Perverts, Pig and Sneakfreaxx.
Folsom Europe is also the backdrop for the annual German Titleholders' Conference, an event which brings together fetish titleholders from all over the world to meet and collect money for charitable organisations in Berlin. Fundraising is an important part of this fetish street party, as it is the only event in Europe where the nuns from the Order of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence stand at the gates to collect funds from visitors.Gender bender
A gender bender (LGBT slang: one who genderfucks) is a person who disrupts, or "bends", expected gender roles. Gender bending is sometimes a form of social activism undertaken to destroy rigid gender roles and defy sex-role stereotypes, notably in cases where the gender-nonconforming person finds these roles oppressive. It can be a reaction to, and protest of, homophobia, transphobia, misogyny or misandry. Some gender benders identify with the sex assigned them at birth, but challenge the societal norms that assign expectations of particular, gendered behavior to that sex. This rebellion can involve androgynous dress, adornment, behavior, and atypical gender roles. Gender benders may self-identify as trans or genderqueer. However, many trans people do not consider themselves "gender benders".Gender bending may be political, stemming from the early identity politics movements of the 1960s and 1970s, a guiding principle of which is the idea that the personal is political. In his 1974 article, Genderfuck and Its Delights, Christopher Lonc explained his motivation for performing genderfuck: "I want to criticize and poke fun at the roles of women and of men too. I want to try [to] show how not-normal I can be. I want to ridicule and destroy the whole cosmology of restrictive sex roles and sexual identification."The term genderfuck has long been part of the gay vernacular, and started to appear in written documents in the 1970s. Sheidlower cites the definition of the term gender fuck in L Humphreys' 1972 work Out of the Closets: Sociology of Homosexual Liberation as "a form of extended guerilla theatre". Also quoted is the August 1972 issue of Rolling Stone magazine, in reference to the glam rock style: "The new "macho" transvestism, called vulgarly "gender-fuck", a curious satire of female impersonation – dresses, pumps, full make-up and beards – Is represented by, among others, three men in WAC uniforms and big moustaches".Harvey Milk Plaza
Harvey Milk Plaza is a transit plaza at the Castro Muni Metro subway station commemorating Harvey Milk, in San Francisco's Castro District, in the U.S. state of California.Homophobia (song)
"Homophobia" is a song from Chumbawamba's album Anarchy, concerning the topic of modern homophobia. It remained a regular part of Chumbawamba's live set, usually in an a cappella version, from its initial release in 1994 up to the band's retirement in 2012. This arrangement was performed on their 1994 live album Showbusiness!. The version released as a single is very different from the album and live versions, having an upbeat synthesised backing, altered lyrics, and backing vocals by the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence.
The B-side "Song for Derek Jarman" is a heavily reworked version of "Rage" from Anarchy. It quotes from Dylan Thomas's "Do not go gentle into that good night" and ends with a clip of Derek Jarman himself praising the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence.
The song reached number 79 on the UK Singles Chart.Humor about Catholicism
The Catholic Church has been a subject for humor, from the time of the Reformation to the present day. Such humor ranges from mild burlesque to derisive attacks. Catholic clergy and lay organizations such as the Catholic League monitor for particularly offensive and derogatory incidents and voice their objections and protests.
Examples of fairly mild burlesque of the Church in the twentieth century include material by humourists such as the Irish comedian Dave Allen and the comedy show Father Ted.James Broughton
James Broughton (November 10, 1913 – May 17, 1999) was an American poet and poetic filmmaker. He was part of the San Francisco Renaissance, a precursor to the Beat poets. He was an early bard of the Radical Faeries, as well as a member of The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, serving the community as Sister Sermonetta.Joe Balass
Joe Balass (born in Baghdad, Iraq) is an Iraqi Canadian film maker. He is gay.Of Jewish heritage, Balass is most known for Nana, George and Me, which is an autobiographical video by a young, gay Iraqi Jewish filmmaker who takes a charmingly unconventional look at three Iraqi Jewish lives; that of the filmmaker, his 92-year-old Nana and his 73-year-old friend, George. It was screened at the Castro Theatre.Balass escaped from Iraq with his family at age four, and eventually settled in Canada. He has previously worked as a freelance editor, photographer and producer.
He has directed a number of short films and videos including; Tattoo Needle Pricks, On a Very Violet Night in the Apartements Daphne, Nana, George & me, which won a Télé-Québec Award at the Rendez-vous du cinéma québécois (RVCQ]] in Montreal, and The Devil in the Holy Water.
His 2008 film Baghdad Twist is a National Film Board of Canada documentary about the disappearance of Iraq's Jewish community though his own family's history. The filmmaker's mother recounts their family's experiences, and the film is illustrated with Balass family home movies and photos and rare archival footage from Iraq.In 2012, he directed his second feature doc, "JOY! Portrait of a Nun" featuring Sister Missionary Position Delight, one of the founders of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence.
In 2013, he directed the documentary La longueur de l'alphabet avec Naïm Kattan about the Canadian writer of Iraqi Jewish origin Naïm Kattan.
In 2014, he was honoured with a retrospective at the Cinémathèque québécoise.Joe Piccininni
Joseph Joe Piccininni (1922 - September 16, 1995) was a long-serving city councillor in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. He represented the Corso Italia area on city council for 25 years.LGBT culture in Portland, Oregon
LGBT culture in Portland, Oregon has a long and vast history with great relevance to those who fit the demographic in the urban area.Safe sex
Safe sex is sexual activity using methods or devices (such as condoms) to reduce the risk of transmitting or acquiring sexually transmitted infections (STIs), especially HIV. "Safe sex" is also sometimes referred to as safer sex or protected sex to indicate that some safe sex practices do not completely eliminate STI risks. It is also sometimes used to describe methods aimed at preventing pregnancy.
The concept of safe sex emerged in the 1980s as a response to the global AIDS epidemic. Promoting safe sex is now one of the aims of sex education and STI prevention, especially reducing new HIV infections. Safe sex is regarded as a harm reduction strategy aimed at reducing risks of STI transmission.Although some safe sex practices (like condoms) can also be used as birth control (contraception), most forms of contraception do not protect against STIs. Likewise, some safe sex practices, like partner selection and low-risk sex behavior, might not be effective forms of contraception.Sister Boom Boom
Sister Boom Boom, also known as Sister Mary Boom Boom, was the drag nun persona of astrologer Jack Fertig (February 21, 1955 – August 5, 2012). She was a member of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence.Fertig was born in Chicago, Illinois. Often erroneously credited as a founder of the group, Sister Boom Boom actually joined the Sisters in 1980, several months after its founding. She left the order in the Spring of 1986. Her full name was Sister Rose of the Bloody Stains of the Sacred Robes of Jesus, which would trail into a sing-song cadence and a long fermata. This called for a short nickname.In 1982, Sister Boom Boom ran for a seat on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors with agitprop campaigning tactics bringing humor and raising issues she felt were being ignored in the race. She won 23,124 votes with her occupation listed as "Nun of the Above". Five supervisors were elected; she placed eighth. After she started campaigning for mayor in 1983 against incumbent Dianne Feinstein, San Francisco passed an ordinance requiring candidates to use only their legal names on the ballot. This was commonly called the "Sister Boom Boom law".Boom Boom wrote a theatrical-ritual exorcism of Jerry Falwell and Phyllis Schlafly performed in Union Square on July 13, the Friday before the 1984 Democratic National Convention before a crowd of 2,000. She is one of the characters in Emily Mann's play Execution of Justice about the trial of Dan White for the 1978 Moscone–Milk assassinations. George Moscone was mayor of San Francisco and Harvey Milk was the city’s first openly gay supervisor. In the Broadway production she was played by Wesley Snipes.Jack Fertig retired Sister Boom Boom in 1985, and joined a sobriety program. Born to a Jewish father and a Christian mother, he converted to Islam in 2001. He had previously identified as Roman Catholic and as an Episcopalian.Fertig worked as an astrologer until his death in San Francisco, California, from liver cancer on August 5, 2012.Sister Roma
Michael Williams (born December 22, 1962), better known by his stage name Sister Roma, is an American drag queen and art director of gay pornography. He is a twenty-year member of San Francisco's Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence.Sydney Pride Centre
The Sydney Pride Centre was established in 1989 by PRIDE Sydney Lesbian and Gay Community Centre Limited, with a mission to 'establish a permanent community centre for the diversity of lesbians and gay men in Sydney and to build a vital, visible and positive community.'. Initially focused on fundraising and establishing the right organisational framework, early fundraising parties were produced by PRIDE and in conjunction with Bacchanalia, Sweatbox, ACON and Prasit . The Founding board included Gary Cox, Adrian Gough, Gigi Legenhausen, Gillian Minnervini, Paul Nicholson, Philippa Playford, Malcolm Thorne, David Wilkins and Rob Williams.
During 1994 the PRIDE Board made the decision to pursue a lease rather than purchase a building, in order to expedite the opening of a Pride Centre. The following year, on the 25th June 1995, the PRIDE Centre was officially opened at 26 Hutchinson Street, Surry Hills . Inaugural tenants included Fitness Exhange and Support of Positive Youth, who were soon joined by Alternative Networks; later tenants included Women's Liberation House, Sydney Leather Pride, The Luncheon Club, The Larder, Positive Access Program, Out & Out, Deaf Gay and Lesbian Association, Gay Freethinkers, Gay & Lesbian Martial Arts, Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, Team Sydney and Sydney's Pride History Group was founded through discussions at the Centre .
While the Centre has closed, activities like Sydney's annual pride festival carry on in a different form.Sydney Pride Centre provided a physical venue at the Erskineville Town Hall for the community organisations and individuals to meet, work, and socialise together.