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Meet the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, San Francisco’s Order of Queer Nuns

Picture of Deanna Morgado
Updated: 9 August 2017
The best way to describe San Francisco’s The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence is to start at the beginning. It began in 1976 in Iowa when a number of worn and torn habits were donated by a convent of Roman Catholic nuns to The Sugar Plum Fairies for their performance of The Sound of Music. One year later, one of the founding sisters took those habits and moved to San Francisco. And, thus, the following of The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence took hold.

The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence is a cutting-edge Order of queer nuns that have dedicated themselves to their community. Their first appearance in San Francisco was on Easter Sunday in 1979. Since then, the Sisters have been out in the San Francisco Castro District (and beyond) working to promote human rights, bring hope to those without, celebrate diversity, and spread joy, beauty, and spiritual enlightenment to the world. Currently made up of about 30 or so members, all sexes are welcomed and make up the Order.

They are often fundraising for different human rights campaigns, spreading cheer and laughter at hospices, plus planning and executing elaborate events to bring awareness. Though not exactly the conventional “nun,” the nuns of The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence have declared themselves a “ministry of presence,” meaning the Sisters act as educators, from giving lectures to students to informing a stranger about the risks of unsafe sex.

Ultimately, the Sisters have the simple statement of “Go forth and sin some more!” The Sisters believe that people from all walks of life have the right to express their beauty and selves. With intricate makeup and wardrobe, the Sisters use their own unique beauty, presence, and humor to expose those that hold onto bigotry, complacency, and guilt, helping them break those chains and setting the human spirit free. Their objective is to spread awareness and enlightenment, and the Sisters do it with style and flair to entertain.

Sister Rose Mary Chicken and Kali Condescension
Sister Rose Mary Chicken and Kali Condescension | Courtesy of The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence

The way that the members of The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence dedicate themselves to their work is incomparable. Most nuns are lifelong members, following an authentic calling to their work. The Sisters go beyond thinking that they are just another community service group; instead, they believe they are real sisters.

Once the San Francisco Order was founded in 1979, and the Order’s mission of promoting universal joy and exposing bigotry took hold, the Sisters spread beyond the San Francisco House. Today, The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence have houses nationwide and even worldwide.

The San Francisco House is often referred to as the “Mother House.” However, there is no existing hierarchy or ruling power among the Sisters. Each House, whether The Magic City Sisters House in Alabama or The House of the Common Sluts in London, has its own set of culture, rules, and habits. However, one thing is certain: each and every member of The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence shares the same idea of helping their beloved communities.

Sister Rose Mary Chicken
Sister Rose Mary Chicken | Courtesy of The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence