Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Hunky Jesus

I'm not sure how I've passed eight Easters in San Francisco without attending the annual Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence celebration in Dolores Park. Every year the "leading-edge order of queer nuns" hosts all-day events for kids and grownups including an Easter egg hunt, an Easter Bonnet Contest, a Bring Your Own Big Wheel contest where you try to fly down a hill on a plastic tricycle faster than everyone else on a plastic tricycle, and my favorite of course, the Hunky Jesus Contest.

And more photos here.
This year, like the last seven, I missed the whole event. I had already spent the week before pestering Amir to let me hitch a ride with him to visit those ghost towns on the Delta on Sunday, so when my friend reminded me the Dolores Park festivities were the same day, I decided I'd have to wait yet another year to be a Hunky Jesus spectator.

While I personally find the irreverent themes witty and fun, I don't imagine most serious fans of Jesus do. I don't care enough what the perma-frowners think to spend any time trying to "defend" Hunky Jesus or cross-dressing nuns though, as if either of those were somehow morally corrupt and needed defending.

What appeals to me about The Sisters and their Easter party is that it's a celebration of the freedom to be who you are, or to dress up as someone you're not just because you want to, a chance to have fun while rejecting the idea that everyone should be the same, that if you're somehow different from the statistical or social norm by choice or by birth, than you are also somehow inferior or wrong. These kinds of iconic San Francisco events (gay pride, Folsom Street Fair, How Weird Street Faire, Bay-to-Breakers, Halloween in the Castro to name a few past and present) also represent safe havens of accepting and diverse communities for those of us who have ever felt marginalized.

I find it difficult to believe that anyone -- even middle-class, white, straight, non-immigrant Christian men -- could have gone their entire lives without at some point feeling disregarded or persecuted, part of an outnumbered minority unfairly judged or discriminated against by those who simply belonged to a bigger group or who had more power or wealth or who embraced a set of values most easily palatable to the average majority.

Which is why I find it hard to understand that anyone wouldn't relate to the spirit of these kinds of events. I say that, but at the same time my own experience has proven repeatedly that those who are mostly never marginalized rarely seem to remember the few times when they have been, and therefore are rarely willing to acknowledge they have anything in common with people who've chosen to transform their oppression into something positively joyful and inclusive.

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