The Cincinnati Sisters Host a Variety Show for the Black Trans Protesters Emergency Fund

These LGBTQ+ Sisters — on a mission to spread joy and work for justice — are performing a livestreamed variety show and fundraiser on their Facebook page Sunday night

click to enlarge The Cincinnati Sisters Host a Variety Show for the Black Trans Protesters Emergency Fund
Photo: Bryan Patrick

If you've seen a member of the Cincinnati Sisters — or, more likely, a group of them together in solidarity at any outing from a Pride parade to a protest to a Tea Dance — they are hard to ignore.

And that's the point.

They are members of the LGBTQ+ community on a mission to spread joy, raise awareness and conduct acts of community service dressed in elaborate interpretations of "nun" dress. 

And this weekend they are hosting a virtual variety show to raise funds for the Black Trans Protesters Emergency Fund. 

The show takes place 8 p.m. Sunday, June 14 at facebook.com/CincinnatiSisters.

We emailed the Sisters to ask them more about themselves, as an organization, and what viewers can expect from the show, as well as why support black trans protesters is so important at this moment in time.

CityBeat: For people who may be unaware of the Cincinnati Sisters, can you please describe your organization — who you are, your mission?

Sr. Anna Mae Ceres: The Cincinnati Sisters is a house, or convent, of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, an order of activist nuns originally founded over 40 years ago in San Francisco. The original mission of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence was to spread joy and expiate stigmatic guilt; however, it was heavily influenced by the AIDS crisis, which deepened the community to social activism. Our House here was founded 4 years ago and is named The Cincinnati Sisters: Abbey of the Immaculate 4-Way, because every nun loves our famous Cincinnati chili. We are most easily identified by the white makeup and our coronets (our headpieces). Our local House is committed to the original mission of SPI, and we have furthered our mission into lifting and supporting our community when the need arises. The weekend of June 6, one of our Novice members lived that mission by organizing the House’s presence at a protest for social justice in the wake of the death of George Floyd, held at the Hamilton County Courthouse in downtown Cincinnati.

CB: Who can and how do you become a Sister?

Sr. Ceres: The Cincinnati Sisters are open to anyone who feels called to the Sisterhood, regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation. Our House is inclusive of all, and all are actively welcomed. If you are moved by our mission of spreading joy, expiating stigmatic guilt, and working for justice while dressed like a clown nun, you are welcome to join us. Please visit our website, cincinnatisisters.com, or also on FB, The Cincinnati Sisters.

There is a process to becoming a fully professed Sister, which takes at least a year, and during that time you learn what it means to be a Sister, how to do makeup and support the mission. The whole process begins with an email to [email protected].

CB: Also, a little bit about your outfits?

Sr. Ceres: Every Sister that you encounter across the country and worldwide is unique, but we do share some common things. Beyond the traditional white faces that identify the Sisters, each House has its own coronet (the headpiece) that marks which House the wearer is from. The official House coronet for Cincinnati is arched like a tiara and draws inspiration from the crown atop the Great American building as well as Union Terminal; it features red in its design because of the Cincinnati Reds and the University of Cincinnati’s use of this color. While each House has its own official coronet, you may also see Sisters and other members in other headpieces, either for comfort or for other reasons personal to the member. As far as the rest of what we wear, that’s entirely up to the member. We dress in a way that embodies our individual missions as members, and that will be different for each of us.

click to enlarge The Cincinnati Sisters Host a Variety Show for the Black Trans Protesters Emergency Fund
Photo: Kellie Coleman

CB: The event description for the variety show currently says "lipsyncs, poems, inspirational thoughts." Do you guys have anything fleshed out in terms of what virtual attendees can expect? 

Sr. Ceres: The event the House is hosting on Sunday is a variety show being streamed on Facebook Live. Most of the shows that we put together are drag performances, featuring both Sisters and other performers. However, given current events, we wanted to make this one a little different. This one will feature performances meant to bring joy, but some thought and reflection on what we’re experiencing on a daily basis right now. There will be drag performances of well-known songs, including some Disney music, and some live singing, we will also have some book readings and other segments aimed at younger viewers. You definitely don’t want to miss this. As mentioned above, we’re streaming the event live on Facebook, so follow the Cincinnati Sisters page to stay updated and watch the show. 

CB: Can you explain why it is so important to raise funds and awareness for Black Trans Protesters? And the emergency fund? Is this a specific fund that you can link to? 

Sr. Ceres: In light of the recent public killings of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and Tony McDade, millions of people have been motivated to protest systemic racism across the country and indeed around the world. Locally, we have been raising funds for bail for protesters as well as a relief station outside the courthouse. For readers, we would suggest donating to the BTFA, which is supporting the following groups: the Black Trans Travel Fund, Black Trans Femmes in the Arts, and For the Gworls. All of these organizations are nationwide and are supporting Black trans protesters with resources for medical care and bail.

To donate directly, cashapp and PayPal are available.

Cashapp: $btfacollective

PayPal: [email protected]



For more on the Cincinnati Sisters, visit cincinnatisisters.com.

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