Aw, come on, Dixon Sommers (Mailbox, "No, Sister!" Sept. 15). It shouldn't be that hard to smile! I'm an old hetero feminist, have been rabidly so at times, and I find the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence wonderful. We are fortunate there is a group in our community.
I attended the Bat N' Rouge ball game this year -- a remarkable event, indeed. Plenty of spectacle, with lots of opportunities to contemplate the whole continuum of gender identification. Everyday gays and lesbians happily holding hands, straight male community members daring to cross-dress to play ball, and the stunning Sisters, whoever they may be -- straight cross dressers, gay queens -- finding the courage to be themselves in public, and then the joy of experiencing that freedom. It was a gift for all of us. The stands were full of happy folks, mostly hetero, all getting high on the total acceptance of everyone, and the consequent joy and gladness swirling about. I don't know but that could be called love. It may be worth giving it a try.
Kathryn Corbett, Eureka
Thank you for Heidi Walters' well-written article highlighting the work of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence within our community ("Oh, Sister!" Sept.8). It is refreshing to see something good receiving media attention. What a wonderful dialogue it has opened up in our community at large and also within the queer community.
I was struck in particular by the letter in response from Dixon Sommers. His embarrassment by "mostly gay adult men parading around in clown makeup and women's clothes" and his concern for the impact that could have on the community's perception of queer people rang very familiar. I too remember the fear in the pit of my stomach, the involuntary wince elicited by any overly flamboyant expressions. Why, I thought, can't they just act normal? Maybe then others can learn to tolerate us. I too tried very hard to act normal enough, let myself be defined by other people's standards of acceptable expression just enough so that just maybe they'd forget that I wasn't like them. I get it. I really do.
Those who live in the darkness of fear are necessarily afraid of the light of joy and free expression. Why not choose not to be afraid? Even though my partner is a Sister of Perpetual Indulgence (manifesting as Sister Nova China, who was featured on the cover of the Journal), it took Dixon's letter for me to really understand what they're all about. We've had much too much stigmatic guilt already. There are enough people willing to love and accept that we don't need to worry about those who reject or merely tolerate our existence.
I am willing to tolerate Dixon and those within our community who share his views, if that's what they really want. I'd rather join them in celebrating who we really are. When they decide to play along, they'll know where to find me. I'll be flittering joyfully about somewhere around town, probably in the company of the Sisters, maybe making a difference in our community, definitely doing something outrageously fun.
Michael Goodwill, Eureka
In response to the letter regarding the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence: As someone who identifies as feminist and queer, I think dialoging about drag and its often hyper-sexualized/feminized aspect is a necessity. I also think the lack of women in drag participating in Bat N' Rouge is something to think about for future events. However, I applaud the Sisters for the success of Bat N' Rouge in bringing together diverse members of our entire community -- straight, LGBTQ, old, young, conservative and liberal -- for a fun and family-friendly event. And with that they bring visibility to ONE aspect of queer identity with a sense of humor, which gives all people permission to think about and play with gender expression. The nature of drag has its issues, to be sure, and is and will continue to be a topic to critically examine within and without the queer movement. But as we work toward progress, we need to appreciate the efforts -- even imperfect ones -- along the way.
Julie Slater, Arcata