Those painted gay male nuns you’ve noticed throughout Queer Atlanta are on a mission … from God? Goddess? The Queer Force? Whatever, let’s just say that their hearts in the right place.
The Atlanta chapter of the 40-year-old Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence started in 2009. That’s when four local guys transformed themselves into nuns and appeared at Atlanta Pride. That same weekend, they held their first charity fundraiser. By 2010, the chapter saw vast expansion in its ministries, as well as its membership of instantly recognizable white-faced sisters. Members also include guards, who present as male with face paint that’s more mask – for masc.
But the Sisters are so much more than painted faces and nun habits. Or at least, they go well beyond that.
“In addition to serving as a helping hand for any local organization in need, we strive to motivate others into thinking beyond themselves and working to make our LGBTQ-etc community a better place for all …and of course, our role as Fashion Icons for the masses,” laughs Sister Ursula Polari, the white-bearded spokesperson who was confirmed in 2010.
Since their inception, the Order of the Flaming Sugarbakers is a ubiquitous presence in the community, whether ministering condoms, witnessing for LGBTQ rights, or accepting offerings for worthy causes like Jerusalem House, the Health Initiative, the Rush Center, and Lost N Found Youth, which was started with Sister support by founding Sister Rapture Divine Cox, aka Rick Westbrook LNFY’s director.
The number of Postulants and Novices is ever growing, Ursula says, and a new flock is eager to be out in the community, gearing up for an active 2018. If you’d like to be one of them, look into it.
“It begins with reaching out to us,” the good sister says. “We are actively recruiting new members, Sisters & Guards, and invite all members of the community to attend our meetings. Just know up front that being a Sister or Guard isn't all glitz and glamour. It requires dedication, perseverance and the desire to have fun while pursuing good works.”
Keep scrolling to meet the Sisters, Guards and some aspiring members and learn a little more about each one. We asked them each for three words to describe their 'character,' and those answers appear with their stunning photos by James L. Hicks.
Find the Atlanta Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence on Facebook and at atlsisters.org. Photos by James L. Hicks, with his special thanks to Christia Holloway. Shot on location at Saint Mark United Methodist Church.
Sister Ursula Polari
Thoughtful, Snarky & Resourceful
Novice Sister Soma Chextra
Humble, Abstract & Extra
Novice Sister Lynda Hand
Witty, Generous & Loving
Postulant Sister Anita Medic
Dedicated, Honest & Responsible
Postulant Sister Canna Bea Honest
Loving, Caring & Sarcastic
Guards Stitch and Token B. Mann, with Postulant Guards Given Hymn Som, Pants Teara & N. Ohm
Loyal, Kind, Funny, Loving, Patient, Giving, Caring
Sister Sissy Sweet Tea
Sassy, Political & Opinionated
A version of this article originally appeared in Q magazine. Read the full issue below.