In recent weeks, the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence have been the subject of high-profile media attention after the Los Angeles Dodgers rescinded an invitation to honor them with a community hero award at the stadium’s annual Pride Night following backlash from a small but vocal group of extremists. The LA LGBT Center, Equality California, the American Civil Liberties Union, and other civil rights organizations and nonprofits quickly publicly denounced the move.
After a lot of reflection and a personal meeting with the Sisters, the Dodgers since reversed their decision, stating “After much thoughtful feedback from our diverse communities, honest conversations within the Los Angeles Dodgers organization and generous discussions with the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, the Los Angeles Dodgers would like to offer our sincerest apologies to the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, members of the LGBTQ+ community and their friends and families.” The Sisters graciously re-accepted the honor and will join the Dodgers’ celebration on June 16.
The Dodgers should be applauded for their reconsideration and their thoughtfulness in doing the right thing. But it’s clear that there is much-needed education still to be done to showcase the contributions of the Sisters
The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence came into formation in the late 1970s and have been active for 27 years. Their advocacy and service-oriented mission was originally driven by the early days of the AIDS epidemic when there was a high level of religious condemnation of gay men and a lack of compassion and support from other institutions. The sisters believe laughter is therapeutic; and they use irreverent humor as a strategy to alleviate feelings of shame and guilt perpetuated by homophobia, transphobia and xenophobia.
Since then, the sisters have expanded their chapters (known as houses) to nearly every state in the U.S. across Canada, Australia, throughout Europe and South America where, as part of their mission, the sisters raise funds for local direct service organizations. The sisters continue to celebrate LGBTQ joy, in all its forms, as an antidote to the daily discrimination, historic condemnation and continued civil rights violations faced by LGBTQ people.
In their own words, the mission of the Los Angeles House of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence reads: “We believe in freedom of expression, teamwork, effort, and diversity. We are a family, committed to social activism, social service and spiritual development. The Order strives to strengthen its community through drag activism, by raising much-needed funds for community charities, and by bringing about a better understanding of gay spirituality.”
“We feed the hungry, we work with people who are unhoused, we support LGBTQ and trans youth, we support queer art,” a member who goes by the drag name Sister Roma told the Religion News Service. “The reason that we really manifest is to shed light on the hypocrisy of all organized religion, and the way that people interpret the teachings, the word, and use it as a weapon to justify their own homophobia, their own transphobia, their own hate.”
The LA House has raised funds for many organizations including AIDS Project Los Angeles, the American Red Cross, Alliance for Housing and Healing, Friends of Long Beach Animals, and the St. Mary Medical Center Foundation.
And this past week, the Sisters have been honored at a number of Pride-related events, including receiving a key to the city of West Hollywood by the mayor and being honored at the first-ever progressive pride flag raising with the Los Angeles County Supervisors. On Wednesday, June 7, the Sisters will accompany Anaheim mayor Ashleigh Altken toe the Los Angeles Angels’ Pride Night. Additionally, the Sisters have been invited to join the LA LGBT Center on their float at the Los Angeles Pride Parade on June 11 before also joining the Dodgers for their Pride Night on June 16.
To learn more about the Sisters’ good work, visit https://www.thesisters.org/.
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