Non-profit

Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence

Website:

www.thesisters.org

Location:

SAN FRANCISCO, CA

Tax ID:

94-3032120

Tax-Exempt Status:

501(c)(3)

Budget (2016):

Revenue: $140,422
Expenses: $154,130
Assets: $194,750

Type:

Nonprofit

Formation:

1979

President:

(Decentralized governance)

The Sister of Perpetual Indulgence (SPI) is a far-left LGBT advocacy group that satirizes religious orders for the purpose of LGBT activism. The organization is a parody “order” of gay male “nuns” dedicated to “the expiation of guilt.” [1]

The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence fundraise through performances where they dress in drag, often in the form of a parody catholic imagery. Their signature fundraising event takes place on Easter Sunday, a high holiday for Christians, which includes a “Hunky Jesus Contest.” [2] Funds from such events are used to issue grants to LGBT advocacy organizations.

Background

The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence was founded in 1979 by four gay men who dressed in nuns’ habits in full drag and performed theatrical acts throughout the city. [3] Michael Williams, one of the founders of the organization and known by the stage name “Sister Roma,”- claims that SPI pioneered activism in drag or “dragtivism.” [4] The organization continued to support LGBT causes throughout the 1980s and in 1989 became a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, allowing it to receive tax-deductible dollars and engage in educational activities to further its mission of supporting LGBT interests. [5]

Controversies

In 2007, the Archbishop of San Francisco, George Niederauer, issued a public apology to the Roman Catholic community after he delivered the Eucharist to two individuals affiliated with the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. The affiliates resembled nuns and were dressed in drag. The apology acknowledged that it was a mistake for them to receive the Eucharist, referencing the organization’s longstanding mockery of the Catholic Church, and religious women in particular;[6] commenting that he found their presence to be a mockery of the church and offensive. [7]

In 2017, Westcott House in Cambridge, U.K. chose to celebrate LGBT history month. While the Church of England had allowed for services to take place to commemorate LGBT history, a minister at Westcott house overstepped the invitation by conducting an evening service entirely in Polaris-a form of Queer slang-based on a translation of the Bible written by the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. Some members of the church found the service highly objectionable, such as a part where the traditional “Glory be to the father, and to the son, and the Holy Spirit” was translated as “Fabeness be to the Auntie, and to the Homie Chavvie, and to the Fantabulosa Fairy.” This controversy led to the Rev. Canon Chris Chivers, the principal of Westcott House, formally apologizing for the incident. [8]

In 2019, the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence participated in London Pride, rebranding themselves as “The Imams of Perpetual Indulgence,” advocating for LGBT positions while denouncing anti-LGBT attitudes in Islam. The social media response to the event was polarized, with some condemning their general conduct and mocking of the Islamic religion. [9]

In 2019, the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence created an event titled “Drag Queen Story Hour,” to be held in a public library in Simpsonville, South Carolina. The event prompted a petition asking the library to prevent men dressed in drag from interacting with children in public space funded by tax dollars. A representative of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, Natalie Shaik, defended the event, stating that it is designed for parents who want to expose their children to “different kinds of people.” [10]

People

The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence was founded by Bobbi Campbell, Ken Bunch, Fred Brungard, Edmund Garren, and Bill Graham. [11] Today the organization claims branches in 10 countries, with offices and presence in over 25 states. [12]

Funding

The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence fundraise through donations received at their events and ceremonies. Over the last 20 years, the organization has raised $1.5 million to further its mission. [13]  In 2016, the organization received $135,459 in contributions and spent $154,130 on functional expenses. [14] Examples of organizations the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence have financially supported include the Center for Immigrant Protection (The LGBT Asylum Project), San Francisco Dyke March, and the Trans Liberation Coalition. [15]

The group has received funding from the Craigslist Charitable Fund. [16]

References

  1. Maupin, Armistead. “JUNED IN AND GAYED OUT.” The New York Times. June 27, 1981. Accessed July 20, 2019. https://www.nytimes.com/1981/06/27/opinion/juned-in-and-gayed out.html?module=ArrowsNav&contentCollection=Opinion&action=keypress&region=FixedLeft&pgtype=article ^
  2. May, Meredith. “Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence have history of charity, activism.” SFGATE. October 17, 2007. Accessed July 20, 2019. https://www.sfgate.com/news/article/Sisters-of-Perpetual-Indulgence-have-history-of-2518235.php ^
  3. Fitzsimons, Tim. “Drag troupe ‘The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence’ mark 40 years of ‘dragtivism’.” NBC News. April 20, 2019. Accessed July 20, 2019. https://www.nbcnews.com/feature/nbc-out/drag-troupe-sisters-perpetual-indulgence-mark-40-years-dragtivism-n996701 ^
  4. Fitzsimons, Tim. “Drag troupe ‘The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence’ mark 40 years of ‘dragtivism’.” NBC News. April 20, 2019. Accessed July 20, 2019. https://www.nbcnews.com/feature/nbc-out/drag-troupe-sisters-perpetual-indulgence-mark-40-years-dragtivism-n996701 ^
  5. Fitzsimons, Tim. “Drag troupe ‘The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence’ mark 40 years of ‘dragtivism’.” NBC News. April 20, 2019. Accessed July 20, 2019. https://www.nbcnews.com/feature/nbc-out/drag-troupe-sisters-perpetual-indulgence-mark-40-years-dragtivism-n996701 ^
  6. Guthrie, Julian. “Archbishop apologizes for giving Communion to gays dressed as nun.” SFGATE. October 16, 2007. Accessed July 20, 2019. https://www.sfgate.com/news/article/Archbishop-apologizes-for-giving-Communion-to-2534879.php ^
  7. “Archbishop Niederauer apologizes for giving Communion to “Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence” at San Francisco Parish.” Catholic News Agency. October 12, 2007. Accessed July 20, 2019. https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/archbishop_niederauer_apologizes_for_giving_communion_to_sisters_of_perpetual_indulgence_at_san_francisco_parish ^
  8. “Church ‘regret’ as trainees hold service in gay slang.” BBC. February 4, 2017. Accessed July 20, 2019. https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-38863545 ^
  9. “CEMB marches at Pride in London 2019 as topless Imams of Perpetual Indulgence.” Ex-Muslims. July 9, 2019. Accessed July 20, 2019. https://www.ex-muslim.org.uk/2019/07/cemb-marches-at-pride-in-london-2019-as-imams-of-perpetual-indulgence/ ^
  10. LaFleur, Elizabeth. “Petition aims to cancel ‘Drag Queen Story Hour’ at Greenville County library.” Greenville News. January 30, 2019. https://www.greenvilleonline.com/story/news/2019/01/30/drag-queen-story-hour-petition/2719449002/ ^
  11. “Sistory” Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. https://www.thesisters.org/sistory ^
  12. “Orders Worldwide” The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. https://www.thesisters.org/world-orders ^
  13. “10 WILD MILESTONES IN THE TWISTED HISTORY OF SAN FRANCISCO’S SISTERS OF PERPETUAL INDULGENCE.” San Francisco Travel. November 19, 2016. Accessed July 20, 2019. https://www.sftravel.com/article/10-wild-milestones-twisted-history-san-francisco%E2%80%99s-sisters-perpetual-indulgence ^
  14. “Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax.” Guidestar.org. Accessed July 20, 2019, Part 1, Lines 8-12. ^
  15. “Grants” Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. https://www.thesisters.org/grants ^
  16. Data compiled by FoundationSearch.com subscription service, a project of Metasoft Systems, Inc., from forms filed with the IRS. Queries conducted July 24, 2019. ^
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Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: December - November
  • Tax Exemption Received: March 1, 1987

  • Available Filings

    Period Form Type Total revenue Total functional expenses Total assets (EOY) Total liabilities (EOY) Unrelated business income? Total contributions Program service revenue Investment income Comp. of current officers, directors, etc. Form 990
    2016 Dec Form 990 $140,422 $154,130 $194,750 $0 N $135,459 $2,043 $393 $0
    2015 Dec Form 990 $145,309 $127,637 $200,418 $0 N $122,779 $6,614 $184 $0 PDF
    2014 Dec Form 990 $250,546 $240,502 $180,306 $0 N $103,461 $83,790 $1,423 $0 PDF
    2013 Dec Form 990 $258,884 $154,840 $170,262 $0 N $117,044 $131,832 $283 $0 PDF
    2012 Dec Form 990 $183,166 $179,454 $66,218 $0 N $94,531 $79,292 $224 $0 PDF
    2011 Dec Form 990 $149,687 $171,623 $62,506 $0 N $48,108 $93,142 $178 $0 PDF
    2010 Dec Form 990 $224,954 $220,902 $84,442 $0 N $164,503 $41,063 $403 $0 PDF

    Additional Filings (PDFs)

    Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence

    584 CASTRO ST
    SAN FRANCISCO, CA 94114-2512