Thursday, October 9, 2014

Tora And Visa’s Excellent Adventure

Hello everyone, this is Novice Sister Visa Dekline and I'd like to share with you some stories from when Sister Tora Wholes and I recently traveled to Regina, Saskatchewan to take part in the Imperial Court of Regina's Coronation. We had a fabulous time! 

We arrived in Regina at 9:00pm, and were met at the airport by the lovely Pup Striker. He brought us home and got us settled, and then we freshened up and changed for the in-town show. This show was our first introduction to the drag community in Regina - and several of them were pleased to finally meet us, as they’d heard quite a lot about us beforehand. Although we weren’t manifested - it was a great opportunity for us to meet some of the people we had been chatting with about the sisters prior to our trip - and to catch up with friends we hadn’t seen in awhile. 

Friday night was the out-of-town show - where kings and queens who have travelled to Regina for the weekend have the opportunity to perform and raise money for the reign’s chosen charities. Tora and I manifested this evening - and were escorted by Striker to the event. This was a fabulous evening - we got to meet several members of the local community - as well as those who have travelled from out of town. As I mentioned earlier, several knew of the sisters before either from their travels to other cities, or from the amazing work more prominent sisters like Sister Roma have done, or from having an interest in the sisters themselves. This evening was all about net-working, meeting everyone that was in town for coronation - paying homage to the Emperors and Empresses from other cities, and of course raising money for charity. After the show, Tora and I went to the only gay club in Regina to do a bit of bar ministry. We gave out some of our condom packs, met members of the community who weren’t at coronation, and spreaded the word about our mission. We even ran into some other Vancouverites who had also travelled to Regina for the weekend and are friends of the sisters. 

Saturday was the main event of Coronation. It was a long day - we were required to be at the hotel for 11am to turn in protocol. As invited out-of-town guests - we would be introduced that evening at the main event and the emcees would talk a bit about the sisters and our mission while we were on stage. After turning in protocol and enjoying the fine Saskatchewan hospitality - we headed home to manifest for the big event! I decided to pay respect to Saskatchewan by using the province’s official colours in my makeup that evening - green and gold. I’d also decided to pay homage to their beloved football team, the Saskatchewan Roughriders - who were playing that weekend - by adding silver and black accents to my makeup. It turned out great, and Tora looked amazing as always! We made it to Coronation, had reserved seating with the Kink Regina group and invited special guests of the Emperor. Tora and I had our walk early in the evening, and spent the rest of the evening enjoying a fabulous show. One of the highlights of the evening for me was seeing one of the former Empresses come out and perform “Goldeneye” by Tina Turner. She looked just like Tina - everything from the wig, to the legs, to the dress. She also sang like Tina - her voice was so spot on - I could’ve sworn she was lip-syncing but she was actually singing live. It was incredible! After six hours of performances, protocol, and networking - the new Emperor and Empress of Regina and all of Saskatchewan were crowned. Congratulations to Empress 24 China White Sanoir, and Emperor 24 Mitch deBitch Sanoir. I’m sure you will make your community and province very proud! After the coronation festivities, we wound the evening down at the hospitality suite where there was free food and libations, and lots of time to socialize in a more informal environment with the other attendees. It was a great environment for Tora and I to make some more great connections, and talk more about the work we do as sisters. 

Sunday was a much-needed rest day, sort-of. Tora and I (not-manifested) took part in the Regina AIDS Walk for Life, along with Striker and Ray, and the Queen City Pride crew. It was a beautiful day for the walk, and although their walk is MUCH smaller than Vancouver’s - it was nice to be there in support of all the amazing work they do - both in Saskatchewan and Vancouver. That evening was Tuff Drag - where the members of the court who would normally take on male roles (like Emperor, Crown Prince, and Duke) performed as drag queens for the evening. It was highly entertaining - Tora even got up and performed a number! It was a perfect end to a perfect weekend!
Overall, our mission trip was a huge success! We met a number of individuals who are interested in potentially starting a house in Regina, and made good connections with individuals from other cities across Canada where the Sisters could grow and thrive. They’ve now got a well-established fully-professed house from which to gain insight and advice, and we’ve got some fantastic new friends and supporters who will spread the word of the sisters throughout Canada’s heartland. I personally can’t wait to see what happens next!

Sending you love and light!

XO,

Visa










Sunday, September 21, 2014

Prayers for a Friend, a Saint and a Community Leader

Photo:  Queer Film Festival, 2008
The Vancouver Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence are holding the friends and family of Jim Deva in our thoughts and prayers.  Jim is one of the Saints of the Vancouver Sisters and earlier tonight we learned that he has died. We pray that the Nuns of the Above shower him in all the glitter and joy he can absorb.  We pray that his family, friends and community are able to support one another during this time of loss and grief.  We pray that our community will learn from Jim's presence and leadership to know that each of us can and must strive to continue to build our community and find ways to support those who struggle for freedom.

Jim was instrumental in our community's development and growth.  He co-created safe space in which we were able to gather, learn and plan the revolution well before it was safe for us to gather.  He, along with his partners at Little Sisters, stood up to the federal government to demand equal treatment for our literature and ourselves.

A brave man dies this week and the Sisters ask everyone to take a moment to send good thoughts to Jim on whatever this next part of his journey is and to all those who loved him that their healing after losing him may be as kind and gentle as possible.  If you are so moved, please join us in lighting a candle to help guide Jim on his way.

Blessings and much love to each and everyone of you.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Supermoon Grounding Ceremony

Last night, I had the opportunity to participate in a smudging ritual with Sister Tora Wholes, Cadet Paladin Pebbles, Sister Petunia Encarnata and guests down at the Vancouver AIDS Memorial at Sunset Beach. We were given some "Third Wave Faerie Dust" by our abbey's "Grandmama" Sister Merry Peter of San Francisco and told to smudge it on the next full moon. This Faerie Dust was magical and special since it contained several ingredients that are special and meaningful to us - cedar, sage, pink quartz from the pink triangle memorial in the Castro, wood shavings from the fence in Laramie, WY where Matthew Shepard was left to die, rose petals from Oklahoma City (one of Sister Petunia's first stateside homes), and many other meaningful additions. 

We grounded ourselves, stated our intentions and had a beautiful ceremony that helped us to remember why we are here, what we're working for, and what we hope to achieve with the Sisters. It reaffirmed my decision to join the Vancouver Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, and validated the important work that we're doing. We closed the ceremony off by adding some ingredients of our own: some dried rose petals from the base of the AIDS Memorial - to help us remember the many brave men and women who lost the battle before us, and who helped shape the direction of GLBTQI rights in Vancouver and elsewhere. I'm proud to be a Sister - thank you so much Merry Peter for giving us such a special gift!!

Sincerely, 

Novice Sister Visa DeKline
Sister Petunia Encarnata leads the Grounding ceremony at the bast of the Vancouver AIDS Memorial.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Vancouver Sisters Expose Their Pride!!


Sister Merry Peter and Novice Sister Visa DeKline.
 Hello my darlings, this is Novice Sister Visa DeKline speaking! I’m here to tell you about what an amazing time the Vancouver Sisters had at this year’s Vancouver PRIDE festivities! Although this was far from being my first rodeo, it was my first rodeo as part of the Abbey of the Longgggggggg Cedar Canoe! It was such an exciting experience! Let me tell you about it! 



 Our first official PRIDE event was attending the opening gala for the Queer Arts Festival, held at the Roundhouse Community Centre. Sisters Merry Q. Contrary, Petunia Encarnata and myself were present and sold 50/50 to the many art enthusiasts in attendance! This event was very special for me personally because it was  the first event that I was eligible to wear my wimple! During the event, Sister Alma Bitches showed up to lend her support, and enjoy the artwork and delicious Lebanese food. Because this was one of the first official pride events, several dignitaries and politicians were in attendance. A big highlight of my evening was running into Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson, and teaching him how to crack a fan! He was a natural - and yes - he really is as handsome in person as he is in the media! The event was a tremendous success, we helped the Queer Arts Festival raise approximately $200 to continue their work supporting local and international queer artists! 
Novice Sister Visa Dekline, Mayor of Vancouver Gregor Robertson,
Sisters Petunia Encarnata and Merry Q Contrary with Saint
Barberella of the Mega Mouth Ball aka. Barb Snelgrove at the Queer Arts Festival.

The next major event for the Sisters was a public elevation ceremony for the Novice members, held during the Davie Street Block Party. Working with the cooperation of Xtra West and their Archives project, the GLBTQ community bore witness as Novice Sisters Zahra Nansaidh, Lucy Caboose and myself publicly took our novice vows right on the rainbow crosswalks at Bute and Davie!  Reverend Mother Alma delivered the vows via megaphone, while Sisters Merry Q, and Sweet Cherribum bore witness. Postulant Lois Price and our Mistress of Novices, Sister Petunia also showed up in their male forms to lend their support! This event was such a special expression of our commitment to the SPI movement, and to do so in front of the greater community was such a joy! We posed for literally hundreds of photos with members of the community, tourists, and  curious onlookers alike! After the quick elevation ceremony, we wandered around the block party and took part in some of the awesome activities they had set up. For those of you unfamiliar with it - every year they shut down a three-block stretch of Davie Street on Friday afternoon ’til late, and have dancing, games, food, a beer garden, and other fun activities for community members of all ages to take part in! They’ve really been upping their game in past year - installing permanent rainbow LED strip lighting along the sides of the street this year. It looks really sharp! 

Novice Sisters Visa DeKline, Lucy Caboose and Zahra Nainsaidh take their vows publicly during the Davie Street Party.
After the block party and an impromptu sushi sesh, several of the members headed over to the Pint Public House in Gastown for Ruff: Pride. I personally took this opportunity to get out of face, and to transition back to my male form (after all, this gal is single - you never know who you’re gonna meet  during pride!). The Vancouver Sisters have been extremely fortunate to have a wonderful, longstanding relationship with Michel Nadeau - who is the owner/producer of the Ruff events. We volunteer at and help promote his events - he is a great friend to the Abbey! His events are incredibly fun, well-planned, and so damn sexy - and this party didn’t disappoint! Eight members showed up to help out - Sr. Alma, Sr. Merry Q, Sr. Sweet, Sr. Tora Wholes, N. Sr. Foxy G. Love, Cadet Paladin Pebbles, Postulant Lois and myself! As a result of this fantastic turnout, we all had several opportunities to mingle and enjoy the party. This party was banging - held in a HUGE venue over two levels, I lovingly refer to it as  MAN STEW! There’s so many beefy, sexy, scruffy men dancing shirtless to tracks thrown down by the amazingly talented Adam Dreaddy, DJ Mumbles, Jay Douglas and Jay Torres. Ruff always leaves you coming back for more! The event was incredibly successful, and most of us ended up shutting down the place! 
L to R Postulant Lois Price, N Srs Visa and Foxy with Sister Merry Q
work the door at RUFF Pride at the PINT.  
Sisters Alma and Sweet take a selfie
at RUFF PRIDE.





















Before  the parade began, a few of the members snuck over to the PFLAG float and presented them with a giant cheque for $1,000! PFLAG Vancouver is a fantastic organization that is doing some amazing work in our community, particularly in supporting transgender youth in our schools  
The Sisters Donated $1,000 to PFLAG Vancouver just
before the parade started.
This grant will go a long way in helping them continue this work, as well as funding their “crisis line” - where concerned parents, families or friends can call and connect with a PFLAG member anytime about any issues they are facing. Eventually the time came to start moving, and with our best faces forward, we marched with a message of “No Shame”. To achieve this message, we carried signs containing condemning words and statements that people have used against us in the past. Words such as “faggot”, and “slut” - or the stigma of being HIV Positive. These are words that have been used to stigmatize one another both from within our own community and from outside of it. As sisters, we vow to expiate stigmatic guilt and promulgate universal joy - and we collectively felt that we could make an incredible statement to this effect by encouraging the community to feel no shame in hearing these words that others might use to hurt them. It’s still early days, but I would venture based on the reaction of the crowd, that our message was heard loud and clear! I had an absolutely fantastic time marching - it was great to have the puppies running ahead and playing fetch, and interacting with the children in the crowd. I even got to walk a couple of them on leashes - they were such good boys, not pulling on the leash and always staying next to mama!







Once the parade was over, and we were well hydrated once again, we took the opportunity to explore the Sunset beach festival and interact with members of the community. Some of the sisters took the opportunity to park their derrieres on the hillside and enjoy the shade and ocean breeze, while others quickly wandered around the vendors seeing what it was all about. Some members retreated home early on to relax and “demanifest”. Sister Alma, Sister Tora, Cadet Paladin Pebbles, N. Sister Koo Koo Kachoo and I decided to keep the party going a little longer, and partook in a bit of  impromptu bar ministry at the Pumpjack Pub. The place was packed to the rafters with hot and sexy men, but eventually the heat (and the time) got to us wary sisters, and we all wandered home for some disco naps (or maybe not). 

The Vancouver Sisters and friends just before the Vancouver Pride Parade!
All in all, I would say the Pride 2014 was a resounding success for the Vancouver Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. We’ve grown so much in such a short amount of time (see Reverend Mother Alma’s blog entry: THE THIRD WAVE), and the community is becoming more and more familiar with us. With our participation in these events, we’ve had the opportunity to gain even more exposure to the greater community, as parade attendance was estimated to be around 500,000 spectators alone (not to mention the volunteers and participants). I’m really looking forward to continuing to be a part of this small but growing group of dedicated Sisters, and continuing to work together to spread joy, reduce shame, and raise tons of money for the community in which we live! We’ve got nowhere to go but up from here - so let’s fly!  

Wishing you love and light, and universal joy always!

xo,
Visa 

Thursday, July 24, 2014

THE THIRD WAVE

    Hello dearest reader, this is Sister Alma Bitches; the current elected Reverend Mother of the Vancouver chapter of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence (god I love typing that ).  I wanted to let you all know that our little Abbey is experiencing a bit of a membership boom at the moment and I have been so impressed with this new group that I am compelled to spread my joy around!

    Back in September 2010 when I started my journey to Fully-Professed status there were also quite a few new members around; about 6 if I recall correctly, 4 of which remain to this day.  So if our founders count as the first wave, and my group was the second, then this new group is the third wave to roll through our Abbey.  There have been members joining in between the waves, and I love them dearly as well, but right now we have six members all in either the Novice or Postulant stage (teetering on the tip of Novicehood) and as a nun who has been very busy these past few years I cannot begin to explain how great it feels to see so many people coming aboard to share in the experience (and work) of being a Sister. 
    So without further ado: 

     Cadet Paladin Pebbles:  Pebbles unofficially joined the Abbey when Sister Tora Wholes did back in the spring of 2012 and after having supported the efforts of the Abbey as a volunteer for over two years he finally officially declared his desire for membership in the fall of 2013.  Pebbles' ability to get things done and take initative on projects that have otherwise stalled have further endeared him to myself and the other members. I tell him daily how much he means to all of us and our work here in Vancouver.  Oh, and I get to be his supporting member too!
Pebbles
    
     Novice Sister Zahra Nainsaidh (zar-ah nan-zee): Zahra officially joined the Abbey in the summer of 2013 and has become our first bio female member to advance to Novicehood in the Abbey.  Petunia and Bamm Bamm met Zahra while participating in UBC's Out Week and she is currently overseeing our participation in this year's PRIDE Parade as her Novice project.  Zahra's name is tied directly to her faith and lineage; Zahra meaning "enlightened" in Arabic and Nainsaidh meaning "grace" in Scottish Gaelic. Sister Tora is her supporting member.
Zahra Nainsaidh

    Novice Sister Visa Dekline has long been a close friend of Sister Tora Wholes and Cadet Paladin Pebbles and officially declared herself an Aspirant in December of 2013.  Since the beginning of her journey Visa has expressed a willingness to help in any way she can with the planning of upcoming events; more importantly through her actions she demonstrates to us how valuable of an asset she is and will be for many years to come! Sister Tora is her supporting member.
Visa Dekline

    Novice Sister Koo Koo Kachoo declared herself an Aspirant in January of this year and in these short 6 months has stolen the hearts of many a YVR Sister with her calm demeanor and warm energy.  We are so happy to have you Koo Koo and look forward to your involvement in the Abbey! Sister Merry Q is her supporting member.
KooKoo Kachoo

    Postulant Lois Price declared herself an Aspirant in February of this year and has quickly shown she has a Sister in her through her humor and her willingness to pitch in.  If the costume she created for the last Sister Act Singalong is any indication; Lois will be delighting audiences very soon! Sister Petunia is her supporting member.
Lois Price

   Postulant Lucy Caboose has been a member of the Abbey since November 2013 and has impressed the Abbey with her ability to balance her busy secular life with the demanding schedule of the Sisters.  Lucy's excitement for the Sisters is contagious and although she sometimes can be shy she has definitely shown there is more than meets the eye! One to watch ;) Sister Sweet Cherribum is her supporting member.
Lucy Caboose

    As a newly elected Reverend Mother I was expecting my workload to increase with my lofty new position on the Abbey's board of directors.  I am quickly learning that my new role is to step aside and to let the newer members step into the light, because they are truly the stars of this Abbey.  I have had the opportunity to witness the newer members manifest themselves and do great work within the community and I know that if this is what they are showing this early in their journeys that the best is definitely yet to come.  

Sister Sweet Cherribum (far right) leads the Postualnts and Novices (and Petunia) in a makeup workshop. Sisters learn how to paint their faces early on and use their own funds to do so. 
     If you've ever thought about joining the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence but weren't sure how to go about it; it's as easy as coming to one of our general business meetings (7pm second Wednesday of every month at Qmunity) and/or reaching out to our Mistress of Novices: Sister Petunia Encarnata.  Everyone is welcome, but it's definitely not for everyone.  xo 

Regards,

Sister Alma Bitches
Reverend Mother
Mistress of Propaganda