I wrote this speech originally for the Liz Taylor tribute at the Castro Theater on May 27, 2011. After showing it to other Sisters, we agreed that it was not appropriate for this event, besides being way too long. However, I put a lot of thought into it, and just in the process of writing it, I gained a lot of new ideas and perspectives on the WBC and how to handle them.
I am Sister Zsa Zsa Glamour of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, Inc. We are here to pay tribute to a Hollywood icon,
ELIZABETH TAYLOR HILTON WILDING TODD FISHER BURTON BURTON WARNER FORTENSKY
We could talk about Elizabeth Taylor's beauty, her talent, her movie career, her business career, her diamonds, her husbands, but I want to speak a little about activism. Having grown up in Hollywood and befriending closeted gay actors like Roddy McDowell and Montgomery Clift at a time when no one else would, Elizabeth Taylor was the first celebrity to bring awareness about AIDS to the public when her friend Rock Hudson became ill. Over her lifetime, Elizabeth Taylor raised more than $270 million dollars for Amfar and the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation. These actions are well-known and documented as they have affected all of our lives. So how SHOULD a group of fans and crazy nuns way up in San Francisco, who have never actually MET Elizabeth Taylor, pay proper tribute?
This event tonight began with a frantic phone I received from a new member of our Order. This new member was concerned that the God Hates Fags people were threatening to picket Elizabeth Taylor's funeral, and he wanted assemble the Sisters to go down to Hollywood and counter-protest the appearance of the Westboro Baptist Church.
Now, I've done a lot of research on this cult that calls themselves a "church", and I believe I have figured out their tactics and most importantly, their motivation. I quickly talked him out of the idea of the Sister doing a counter-protest for reasons I will explain in a minute, and our method of how we SHOULD pay tribute soon became clear.
First a little background about why The Westboro Baptist Corporation "hates fags". In the 1970's Fred Phelps was a struggling lawyer with a lot of kids. His own father described him as "the type of kid who would kick somebody and then laugh about it." As a young father, Phelps controlled his family with an iron fist by inflicting physical and emotional abuse upon his wife and small kids, instilling a sense of fear and discipline in them, punctuated with fire and brimstone religion as his justification.
Below is the speech I gave at the Elizabeth Taylor tribute last night at the Castro Theater.
I’m Sister Zsa Zsa Glamour. (I'm the Zsa Zsa with two legs...) From now on, when you hear the name Elizabeth Taylor, I want you to visualize a giant diamond, floating in space, surrounded by nothingness, except for the twinkling of smaller stars in the background. This diamond shines brighter than any other in the galaxy. If you’ve ever stared deeply into a flawless diamond, you’ve experienced the “fire” effect of reflected light. This giant diamond shines brightly only because of the reflected light YOU’ve sent to it.
Liz is gone, Oprah has retired, but the Sisters are still here, and more importantly, YOU are still here to carry on her work and support groups like Project Inform. Before this event was announced, a couple of us Sisters stepped back and asked ourselves, what WOULD be a proper tribute to Hollywood Royalty, and the answer was simple. Pay tribute to Elizabeth Taylor at the grandest of all movie palaces in San Francisco, the Castro Theater.
Thank you to the management of the Castro and to Project Inform for allowing us to participate and do what The Sisters do best - promulgate universal joy and expiate stigmatic guilt. And thank YOU for attending and paying tribute to one of the true saints of our lifetime.
And now I have the honor of reading the sainting of ELIZABETH TAYLOR HILTON WILDING TODD FISHER BURTON BURTON WARNER FORTENSKY.
Porn star Chip Tanner (real name Jamie Stroud) has declared it "Draw Mohammed Day". In response to all those religious nuts that challenge The Sisters to hold a "Hunky Mohammed Contest", we're not the only ones that sees humor in your antiquated Jesus/Mohammed/Name-Your-Invisible-Deity beliefs.
"Is your god so insecure that he'll actually get upset over a drawing made by a puny human with a history of mental illness and pycho-sexual problems? Or are you the one that's insecure and you project your feelings onto supernatural entities to shield yourself? Well, if that's the case, then fuck you, you little girl-fucking homophobic, intolerant, sexually repressed guilt-over-masturbation wanker!"
Yeah, we're all trembling in our boots about a drawing of Mohammed.
This afternoon I took Novice Sister Betty, Novice Sister Connie, Sister OyVey and Sister Mary Ralph to make an appearance at Mission High School. A High School. It was a little intimidating - not that I was scared, but I was scared that we only had 5 minutes to speak and we tend to have a lot to say.
I didn't really know what to expect when we got there, but as it turns out, it was a big performance put on by the school's Gay Straight Alliance club. They've done it once a year for 3 or 4 years, but this year they got to hold it in the big auditorium (which looks exactly like a slightly more ornate version of my high school auditorium.)
The kids, along with quite a few faculty, put together a full hour of entertainment including a couple of highly choreographed numbers, a drag fashion show, and two inspiring speeches by gay students. The school had a Stage Manager on staff that did some lighting effects to make it more theatrical. It was just like Glee! And like the Glee Club teacher Mr. "Shu" (short for Schuester), this school's GSA club has a Mr. Hsu (also pronounced "Shu").
The Sisters were invited to tell a bit about our Order, and seeing the full line-up of acts, I felt pressured to move it along. Afterward, I was really proud and amazed at the kids, but I kept wondering, why were we there? Those kids certainly didn't need to be taught anything by us. Not only were they talented but they were as "out" as could be, and the audience absolutely loved them. But most importantly the kids were supported by their peers and at least 12 faculty that also dressed up in drag - even the Principal and the butch Gym teacher were in drag!
So, again, why were we there? Does that mean our job is done, at least in this city?
While I was getting ready, I recalled a vague memory that I hadn't really thought about much, and I never knew the details when it happened. Back when I was in 10th or 11th grade, which would have been around 1970-1972, I recall walking around the halls of the school, and walked past a room with a little commotion going on. I vaguely recall hearing that there were going to be some "homosexuals" as guest speakers in a Social Studies class that day. It wasn't one of my classes so it didn't really matter to me, but as I walked past this room, two guys in their early 20's stormed out of the class and shouted back at someone in the room as they walked out in a huff. I was obviously walking into the middle of a heated discussion, and the guests seemed to have been insulted and left. They were hurling insults back but also kind of amused by the rubes and bigots they had just encountered. And that was it. Done. I mostly forgot about it.
The alleged homosexuals were tall and very thin, with long wavy hair, platform shoes, and stylish clothing of the day that really stood out because it was the kind of sexy, androgynous velvet and paisley stuff that only Mick Jagger wore at the time.
It was a very brief moment, and like I said, I didn't know the back story of why they were there or what happened, but at 14 or 15, I think that was the first time I had ever seen a homosexual in person. Fast forward to today, and not only do we have gay high school kids on television (Glee), but real gay kids in real High Schools are having drag shows endorsed by the whole school.
Unlike a lot of people I know, I actually had a ball in High School. My friends all knew I was gay long before I did, simply because I lead such a sheltered life I didn't have any interest in sexuality of any kind until I was in college. I would certainly be a different person if I was raised today attended a school like Mission High situated right in the middle of a gay neighborhood.
Andrew Sullivan, is a gay traitor. There, I said it. He's what they call a "Rhino" - Republican in Name Only. He's a big fag, likes bears and approves of unprotected bareback sex. But he gets a nice, fat paycheck from conservative publication, and probably doesn't sleep well at night. Or get laid. Here's his recent rant about Easter, the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, and the Hunky Jesus Contest.
"I am a First Amendment absolutist, as readers know. And I'm also a solid defender of the right to blasphemy. But there are smart ways of doing this, ways that illuminate broader issues - think of 'The Book Of Mormon' or any South Park episode. And then there are smug, cheap and unfunny shots at the faith of other people. Really, this makes me feel like Bill Donohue. You want to grow some balls? Hold a Hunky Mohammed Contest on Ramadan. And, by the way, thanks for doing your bit to empower every religious right prejudice about gays."
Well, Sister Mary Peter, former Seminarian, wrote this response to Randy Andy:
I read your criticism of the Sisters’ Hunky Jesus Contest on The Daily Beast (link) and have to congratulate you for emulating every tired, lame bigot on FOX News by raising a straw argument suggesting Sisters’ should have a “Hunky Mohammed Contest” if we want to “grow some balls.” Really??
Honey, we’re not out to prove we have balls (though mine are doing quite nicely, thank you). The point of Hunky Jesus is to have fun and chip away at those hardened walls between sex and spirit so often reinforced by the bigotry of so-called Christians who deny the embodied, fleshy reality of Jesus the man who no doubt sported a woody or two in his lifetime here on earth and most definitely came with his own set of balls.
Rail against the supposed grief we cause believers and wrap yourself in self-righteous anger if it makes you feel good- it’s your shtick and in these tough times I know you need a paycheck.
But for the love of every young LGBTQI kid out there trying to find a way through this cruel world, please stop carping on about how events like Hunky Jesus “empower every religious right prejudice about gays.” Bigotry like that is irrational and self- generating. They hate us because we’re GAY, Andrew, period.
It’s actually the GAYS and all those stung by that hatred the Sisters try to help by creating space for a good belly laugh at all the holier-than-thou attitudes that keep us down. If we’re all going to Hell, there’s no reason we can’t have fun and look fabulous on the way!
I’m sorry that a bunch of drag nun volunteers with a cheap sound system don’t rise to your definition of high art, but blasphemy is a democratic art form that delivers its most profound punch at street level where ordinary people struggle every day.
Maybe you haven’t met one of my Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, but let me share a secret. When we don the pancake make up and fake jewels we aren’t pretending to be posh intellectuals. We step into the role of the clown, the Holy Fool for whom the profane is the best weapon against the hypocrisy of all those who pretend that pedigrees and politeness will get the jackboot off our dicks and vaginas. You may not think so, but for us, acting this ridiculous is a sacred and necessary calling to permission everyone else to let their hair down, enjoy life and make more room for joy.
My fervent prayer for you is that next year I might see you in Dolores Park, lounging on a big pink blanket, wearing a fabulous Easter bonnet, pounding back some Dom and laughing and hooting as a new line of Hunky Jesii parade before you. Until then, go and sin some more. It would be a good change of pace.
With indulgent love,
Rev. Sr. Merry Peter, SPI
I made a point to introduce myself to the runner up of the Hunky Jesus Contest because I knew I just had to do a photo shoot with him. He was the hunkiest Hunky Jesus ever! I got his email address backstage and believe it or not, he replied back to me that he would be willing to pose for pictures.
I wanted to use him on posters for our little monthly club, "Saviour Soul". We are going through the "7 Deadly Sins" for party themes, so I figured we better get somebody really good when it gets to "Lust". So what do you think? Does Jesus (and his hard-on) give you lustful thoughts? Apparently it gave Novice Sister Betty some lustful thoughts!
The Red Sea parted, the sky opened up, and I received this "sign" from the son of god (via email):
I must say I am truly amazed how they came out. I think they are awesome. Had a really great time working with you. Thank you for the opportunity. Not sure I can do the "adult work", and thank you for that compliment as well. I am interested in doing more fitness modeling, so I am open if you need other kinds of modeling. It's something we can discuss more of later. Again thank you for making it a cool experience.