What it takes to be a Sister
The Orlando Sisters gladly welcome people interested in becoming a Sister or a Guard regardless of their race, religion, physical ability, sexual orientation or gender identity/expression!
However, to be a Sister of Perpetual Indulgence is not a short and simple process. By the time a Sister recites her final vows, she is ready to represent the order to her community and has earned the community's trust and respect. Although each house of the Sisters has different criteria for progression, the journey generally takes almost a year of blood, sweat and tears (blood from the fabulous shoes that don't quite fit, sweat from the darling black wool Chanel number you thought was a good idea for "parade wear," and tears from the eyelash glue that managed to seal your eye shut).
The Abbey has four phases to learning what you need to know to becoming a nun or a guard: Aspirant, Postulant, Novice and Fully Professed.
An Aspirant is someone who is just beginning on their path. As an Aspirant, you are expected to attend three Sister events, at lease three meetings (of course we have meetings, how else would we plan our outfits?), and begin the time of watching the behind-the-scenes work that goes into being a Sister or Guard. This is intended to give an idea of the level of time, energy, and emotional commitment. If you feel that you can handle it, and you seem like a good fit, you would ask to become a Postulant.
A Postulant is where the fun starts. For a minimum of three months your task is to learn about the Sisters and the Abbey. You choose a Big Sister or Big Brother to guide your journey, and start "manifesting" with a painted face and wearing an austere Postulant's Habit (plain gray with a white dress shirt). As a Postulant, you may paint your eyes, but keep the lips painted white, without any color. Symbolically this shows that you are learning through observation (the painted eyes), and can talk about your OWN personal journey, but are not qualified to represent the Order yet (no color on mouth). On a practical side, this gives you an opportunity to practice your make up skills, since everyone looks at your eyes first, you'll need it. When you have met the requirements, you would be evaluated, and voted to Novice. At this point, you can decided if you would like to continue as a Novice Sister or Novice Guard.
A Novice Sister is now a step away from her final vows. For at least the next six months, just having learned about the Sisters, you now learn how to be a Sister. There is a visible change as well. Gone is the Postulant's headpiece and outfit and in its place is a white French Hood and Veil that we like to call our "Wish Dish." Also, a Novice Sister begins to make their own clothing decisions with the help of their Big Sister. And, not to forget, you now have a mouth, and you will need it, 'cause you're gonna put on a SHOW! Actually, maybe not a show, but each Novice Sister is required to produce a Novice Project. This is an event, fundraiser, whatever, that teaches you how to utilize the resources of the Order so that when you become a Fully Professes Sister you will be a one nun fund-, awareness-, hell-raising machine. Normally at the end of 6 months, it is time for the big vote, to be a Fully Professed Sister.
A Novice Guard begins their journey in learning how to assist and support the order. Like a Sister, a Guard can be of any sexual orientation or gender identity, but instead of direct ministry, they provide the help it takes to make the work we all do possible. They can often be seen learning all the work it takes to physically set up/tear down an event, protect personal items during a performance, provide security and other delightfully butch aspects of what the order may need. Although the help a Novice Guard provides may be a little more stealth than a Novice Sister, their importance (and voting rights) are equal to a Sister's, and should never be seen as simply as "servants." Instead of the veil and "Wish Dish," they wear a more masculine choice of headgear and outfit (usually something very masculine). Likewise, they too are required to produce a Novice Project, but instead of having a focus on community service, it would have a focus on fulfilling or developing a solution to an internal need of the House. Normally at the end of 6 months, it is time for the big vote, to be a Fully Professed Guard.
A Fully Professed Member, FPM, or "black veil" is a full member of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. The white veil has been traded for black (or any other color). You then take your final vows of community service. This promotion also means that you are qualified to represent every other member of the order and are able to support your community to the best of your abilities and talents. Once you are a Fully Professed sister, you are a Sister for life.
If all of this seems like a good fit for you, and you think you have what it takes to become a Sister, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org