The Washington Post is watering down the incivility and radicalism of AIDS activists at the International AIDS Conference in Washington. A prominent picture on page A-4 carries the caption “Ken Bunch, known as Sister Vicious, left, and Tracy Skinner, aka Sister Loosey, at the conference."
The Post did not explain these pseudo-nuns were members of the Catholic-mocking “Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence,” and the online caption proves “Sister Vicious” has an even stronger fake name:
“The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence: left, Ken Bunch, known as Sister Vicious PHB (Power Hungry B----), and Tracy Skinner, playing Sister Loosey of Las Vegas, pose for a photograph at the international conference.”
Would the Post suggest they just didn’t have enough characters to more accurately describe their photo subjects in the newspaper?
The group’s own “Sistory” includes nasty anti-Catholic humor such as this entry on 2003: “Celebrating the 2003 PRIDE theme, the Sisters paraded the slogan "We gotta give 'em Pope" by displaying our own Pope Dementia in a cage where he could just barely reach out to fondle our young acolyte.”
A 1990 performance art piece also included “Pope Dementia's Altered boys, flexing their muscles wearing only thongs and smiles.”
The Post's AIDS Conference blog carried another picture and this explanation:
The language of gender and sexuality has changed through the AIDS crisis, said Sister Vicious, a 66-year-old co-founder of the group who has been HIV positive since 1980 and looked like a cross between a vampy clown and Marilyn Manson, with a red wig, whiteface makeup and black and white ruffles all over her shirt and skirt.
In the early years, gay men were trying to lay low and be acceptable to general society, so “the emphasis was on conformity” — a certain notion of maleness, and gay maleness. But the terror of the disease created an urgency, and people wanted to express who they really were. That led to the use of words like bisexual and then transgender and queer. Now, the trio said, the adjective they use to describe themselves is ‘queer questioning’” — which relays the idea that gender and sexual orientation are fluid concepts.