Happy Pride! It’s the time of year when we come out in technicolor and celebrate what makes this community so special and unique: the people, the activities, the causes, the relationships, the history, the hearts. As is obvious on our cover with some of The Ladies of the Lakes, we’re showing off colors and characters, too. In fact, the lovely dame in blue, Girtha Rotunda, referred to the Sisters in the article on page 170 as “giant acid trip clown nuns” who raise money and entertain people, which made me laugh heartily. As the Twin Cities’ local chapter of The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, The Ladies of the Lakes are seen at events that range from family-friendly to adult-only, raising money for different needs and causes in the community. What’s not to celebrate about that?
Okay, I need to come clean here. I owe clowns a cosmic apology. My lack of fandom is so well-known that people taunt me with clowns on a near-daily basis. It’s not personal (well, the taunting might be); it’s that I don’t sit well with not being able to see behind the makeup and costumes. I want to deal with people, not personas.
Except aren’t clowns the most obvious in their disguises amongst all the people who are disguising themselves? Aren’t they the most open in their illusions? Credible, even? “What you see is what you get” is rarely the case in this world as we all have multiple facets to our personalities, so why target a segment of performers for trying to make the world better by putting forth a facet that is happy and joyous and might leave a smear of makeup somewhere when we hug?
During our photo shoot at Betty Danger’s Country Club, the Sisters and their Guard were gracious and kind personalities, spreading goodwill. People smiled when they saw them and asked to take pictures with the colorful characters. Girtha Rotunda and I got to chat and laugh with some lovely ladies who read Lavender and were celebrating a birthday that day. With exquisitely painted faces and in various textures and designs of headwear, corsets, dresses, and heels, the crew golfed, posed, and rode the Danger. At a quiet moment, Hilda Clymb very earnestly looked me in the eyes and discussed with me how the community can’t become complacent in our work against discrimination and HIV/AIDS. It’s clearly not all fun and games for this crew. And, though I may not know the legal names of the people I’m talking to, the names they present as The Ladies of the Lakes are valid and honor the people they become when they don the makeup and garb of The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. That afternoon became one of the more memorable ones in recent history for me, considering that my already-open mind just got split apart by some nuns. Is this clowning actually duplicity? No. I simply need to look at authenticity through a different lens.
Mea culpa, clowns.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my four years in this job it’s that authenticity takes many forms. No matter what facet of our personality we choose to present at any given time, it is still a part of us, something of what makes up our authentic selves. Some of us have quite a ways to go until we feel comfortable in our own skin, maybe to come out of the closet or realize that our gender identity may be more fluid than we knew. Or, we want to change something in our lives that isn’t working for us or volunteer to help others or speak more openly about things that bother us. It’s all a journey and we can’t discount wherever we are on it. Please, look to the many examples in the pages of this Pride Issue and see how others have progressed toward authenticity, through support groups, spirituality, art, sports, music, makeup, activism, recovery, volunteering, and loving. As different as each person is, so is each person’s path.
With you, with authenticity, and with Pride,
(aka Sister Mea Culpa?)