The Motor City Sisters spreading their love and joy in Palmer Park during this year's Hotter Than July. BTL Photo: Jason A. Michael

Motor City Sisters: 'We Are the Nuns of Our Community'

BY JASON A. MICHAEL

They describe themselves as an order of 21st century nuns dedicated to the promulgation of universal joy and the expiation of stigmatic guilt. But odds are the Motor City Sisters are unlike any other nuns you've ever seen.

"We use the imagery of a nun because we all know that nuns in the Catholic Church are the ones who get things done," said Sister Estee Louder Harder Faster, who founded the order in 2014.

This imagery is used, she said, to bring the gay, straight and transgender communities together in an effort to raise money for the community as a whole. According to Sister Estee, that mandate comes with very little limitation.

"We'll work with anybody who needs help," she said. "We'll walk dogs, feed the homeless.

We'll do anything to bring the community together. If you're having a party, we'll mix and mingle with your guests or sell shots or raffle tickets. Whatever you need us to do. We'll help raise funds."

The first such order, the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, was founded in San Francisco in 1979. Today, there are orders in 40 cities across the globe. The newest is in Berlin, Germany.

"You can tell where a sister is from by what she's wearing on her head," explained Sister Estee. "We're the Motor City Sisters so we wear a coronet that looks like a hubcap. It's modeled after a '65 Cadillac hubcap."

Sister Christy Annity was first introduced to the sisters in Chicago several years ago.

"I thought how cute, a bunch of guys dressed as nuns," she recalled. "I later learned a little about the organization, but there were no sisters here in Detroit. About two years ago I saw the sisters at Motor City Pride and knew I had to join. It combines my love of drag, giving to my community, promoting human rights, having fun and using humor to expose hate, bigotry, and complacency that chain the human spirit."

But joining an order is not as easy as filling out a membership application or paying dues.

"It's a process of progression that includes learning about the sisters and completing a novice project," said Sister Christy. "The process is aspirant, postulant, novice, and fully professed sisters (or guard). In my case, my novice project was a show called Stars of the Holidaze that last December raised $1,000 for the Ruth Ellis Center."

The show would go on to win Best Produced Show at the Performers Awards of Detroit.

"My favorite thing about being a sister is just really being able to go out there and help and be incognito in a way," said Sister Gin-ja Lox. "People don't know who I am out of face. So just to be able to go out and do good for the community and be incognito about it. I remember one time it was me and another sister and we broke up an argument outside of a bar. It was someone who had just lost their partner of 25 years. And of course they were intoxicated and we were able to simmer down the argument and get them both cabs and get them both home safely. But it was really letting that person who had just lost his partner cry on my shoulder for about 20 minutes. That was really all the person needed."

Despite the goodwill they promote, there may be those, particularly those raised Catholic, who take issue with the concept of such radical and secular nuns. But the sisters are unfazed.

"We are the nuns of our community," said Sister Christy. "Catholic nuns aren't in our community providing safe sex kits at the bar, helping other charities raise money, educating our community, and telling people to let go of guilt and stigma. Yes we employ the fabulous attire of Catholic nuns. If that offends anyone, they can be offended and we will keep on our mission."

Sister Gin-ja agreed.

"There's many different religions within the sisters," she said. "We don't conform to a certain religion. But we're definitely not making fun of Catholics as much as we're taking that imagery of the nuns, because everyone knows that it's the nuns that help people."

The Motor City Sisters will host "Transtastic Night to Remember" on Aug. 13 at Menjos Complex, 928/950 W. McNichols Ave. in Detroit. Funds raised will benefit the order and the Ruth Ellis Center. Visit the event page on Facebook for details. For more information on the Motor City Sisters, visit http://www.motorcitysisters.org.
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