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

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!


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