They are a group that are hard to miss, but the Vancouver Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence are more than a group of men in brightly painted faces and signature head pieces. And even while their costumes are meant to make them instantly recognizable (and perhaps stir a little controversy), it is what these queer ‘nuns’ do to raise money for the homeless and those living with HIV/AIDS that really matters.
Formed five years ago as The The Abbey of the Long Cedar Canoe Society inside the larger international Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence organization, the YVR Sisters are celebrating this milestone with a party and Unveiled, a photo exhibit by Vancouver photographer belle ancell.
“I adore the Sisters and I feel reverence in their presence. I wanted to do a photo project to honour them and create images as beautiful as they are,” says ancell.
The photographs on display will feature many of the twenty plus sisters who are currently part of the local organization, including the photo above and left. And with names like Sister Merry Q Contrary and Sister Alma Bitches it isn’t difficult to see how the photos will prove to be provocative and for some, maybe even a tiny bit inspirational.
Created in 1979 San Francisco, the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence originally began wearing their nun attire to draw attention to issues in that city’s Castro District. Since then, the Sisters have grown to be an international network raising money for various causes and providing outreach for such things as safer sex education. The Vancouver chapter was formed in 2000.
“The Sisters mandate is to spread joy, expiate stigmatic guilt and support the homeless and those living with HIV/AIDS in Vancouver. In my opinion they far exceed their mandate,” concludes ancell.