Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence … Podcasts … A Dame’s Tale


Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence

The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence are an international Order of gay male and trans “nuns”. They believe all people have a right to express their unique joy and beauty.

Since their first appearance in San Francisco on Easter Sunday in 1979, the Sisters have devoted ourselves to community service, ministry and outreach to those on the edges, and to promoting human rights, respect for diversity and spiritual enlightenment.

They use humour and irreverent wit to expose the forces of bigotry, complacency and guilt that chain the human spirit, and sprinkle glitter blessings on us whenever they get the chance.

The Sisters have no central seat of power and no single ruling body. Each House is an autonomous, unique group with its own habits, culture, and rules.

You will be glad to know there is a Manchester House – The House of the Swishing Curtain.

So what fabulous things do the Manchester Sisters get up to? As well as raising eyebrows for a better world, they fight the good fight, raise money for good causes, give hugs to everyone and spread masses of joy. It runs through their blood like ice cold gin.

Saintmaking: the canonisation of Derek Jarman

A new documentary, Saintmaking, tells the tale of a group of gay male and trans “nuns” in 90s London who decided to canonise Derek Jarman – film-maker, artist, gardener and more – as an act of political protest.

The London House of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, by 1991, had become radical left-wing activists and vicious critics of the UK government’s lack of care in confronting the Aids crisis. Frustrated that “exactly £0 had been spent on research” and seeing their community suffering and dying as a result, they decided they wanted to make a stand and make someone a saint – but who?

Diagnosed with HIV in 1986 and a master of many forms of activism, Jarman was openly gay and open about his illness – he was the perfect candidate. So on 22 September, 30 years ago, the Sisters took a trip down to Prospect Cottage garden in Dungeness to lay hands on their beloved Dessie.


Here are a couple of highly recommended podcasts to listen to.

Childhood Heroes

Why do some young people prefer to be known as queer rather than gay, or as a gay woman rather than a lesbian? Do 5-year-olds understand discrimination? Should I put pronouns on my profile?

Carl Austin-Behan OBE DL helps us unpick these questions and many more in this episode of Childhood Heroes. Carl is a figurehead of Greater Manchester’s gay community, as previous Lord Mayor of Manchester and the current LGBTQ+ Adviser to Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester.

Carl works with schools and the community to reduce stigma and normalise diversity. But personally, Carl’s own life tells the story of the dramatic changes that have happened over one short generation … from fear and discrimination (including dismissal from the Royal Air Force for being gay) to royal honours, and fulfilling his dreams as husband and father. Plus, we celebrate the writing of Russell T Davies.

Listen here

Nine Bob Notes

This is a drama by Philip Meeks, starring Matthew Kelly.

Daniel lives in a retirement home. He has lived his adult life as a gay man, but now finds that he has to suppress his sexual identity in order to fit in. But then an ex-policeman comes to the residence and he and Daniel realise they have met before many years ago.

A gentle and poignant comedy drama about two elderly men who discover a passion for life in their twilight years.

Listen here

A Dame’s Tale

Documentary following Gracy, who takes us on a journey that addresses universal themes of life, death and experiences of illness through tales of frocks, flowers and fireworks.

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One thought on “Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence … Podcasts … A Dame’s Tale

  1. Thanks for mentioning the Nine Bob Notes radio drama with Matthew Kelly. Listen with headphones if you can; the sound effects are fun!


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