Sister Sparkle Plenty
I am Sister Sparkle Plenty, the nun too bright.
“I know it’s too much, but is it enough?”
I am the daughter of Sr Mary Margaret X-plosion (now in Palm Springs) and the granddaughter of Sr Vicious Power Hungry Bitch, who is a founder of San Francisco Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. I am a founding member of the Russian River Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence.
In March of 2001 I heard that there was an Order of Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence forming in Guerneville. I had little knowledge of the Sisters and their accomplishments within the SF community, but knew they looked fabulous and had a reputation for being “outrageous”. I realized that I desperately wanted to be a part of this group, because I was at a point in my life where I wanted to do something that would help me overcome my insecurities and get myself “out there”. As a gay man I had seen a lot of suffering within my “people” and wanted to do something to make a difference. Joining the Sisters gave me the opportunity to serve my community in a meaningful manner.
It was rather naïve of me, but I assumed that most of our community work with be in the LGBT community. But almost immediately after joining it became abundantly clear that it was not just gay men with AIDS who were suffering. Our ENTIRE community was suffering. The first year of Bush’s Reich had forecast a dim future for our community. Services were being cut and eliminated. Women, already burdened with enormous societal disadvantages were facing increased challenges, as were seniors, children and the homeless.
We Sisters began by building bridges with the seniors, local schools, sheriffs and firefighters’ associations and advocacy groups. By attending and creating events were able to accomplish several goals. Primarily we were able to raise our community’s awareness of the struggles that were going on all around them. Secondly, we were able to alleviate some of the financial burdens that Bush’s cuts had caused by channeling community donations to various organizations who worked to directly benefit our community.
We began with fun-filled events such as pie throws and bingo games. These events brought all kinds of people from all walks of life together, where they quickly realized that we all laugh, we all cry and we all bleed. It was wonderful to see the friendship form between folks who had never really spent time with those outside their own social groups. Gays were getting to know conservative straights and vice versa, opening eyes and hearts to the idea that we really are all the same underneath our exteriors.
This was community building and cohesion, and it was happening right before our eyes… simply by people from various walks of life coming together and having fun. Several college students have written papers on the success that we Sisters have had in helping to unify a divided community. In reality, the community healed itself, we were simply a catalyst in getting the process started.
Many other Orders of Sisters have expressed admiration for the way we have become involved with our entire community, rather than just the LGBT folks. We have been able to give them guidance and encouragement in expanding their ministries outside of their respective “gay ghettos”.
Becoming a Sister was the best thing that I ever did for myself, but it was also the hardest. My appearance as a Sister is unique and recognizable, and try as I might I was unable to hide in the background or blend into the wallpaper. People thought I was aloof and cold, but in truth I was scared to death. But I realized that I had lived my entire life in fear and I recognized that I needed to change. It was time for me to banish the insecurities and bring Sr Sparkle Plenty into her own power. It has been a lot of blood, sweat and tears. It has also been the most rewarding thing I have ever done for myself. My Sisters and I are truly loved by our community, and together we have indeed helped make it a better place to live.
As a child I remember I had always felt different. Growing up gay was partly responsible for the feelings of “differentness” but there was more. Lots more. I was also painfully withdrawn and introspective. I was definitely not a social achiever by any means. I spent most of my teen years hiding, burrowed deeply into art and history books. I quickly came to love past civilizations and their unashamed love of beauty and opulence. Stars, galaxies, bright twinkly lights and other sparkly things occupied my attention. I loved jewels and jewel encrusted objects, opulent fabrics, antique furniture, architecture and works of art. Ancient kingdoms captivated me, as did 18th Century Venice. Everything I read about Venice seemed oddly natural and familiar, as if I had been there before. Perhaps I was Venetian in a past life?
I wanted to be a painter, an architect or a designer. Maybe all three! But my dad died suddenly when I was 21. As the oldest, I found myself the head of a family of five. I left school and took over his automotive business and machine shop. It was a very difficult time, but we all stayed together and we made it. I ran the business for 21 years and hated every minute of it. I had buried my true self under layer upon layer of protective hardness. It was time for me to become who I truly was, so I sold out and moved to Sonoma County.
I bought the “Wishing Well Nursery” in Freestone and created “Freestone House & Gardens”. I rebuilt collapsed arbors and trellises and restored and expanded the gardens. I added an art gallery and designed and built a gorgeous, light-filled greenhouse in the style of the follies found in 18th century England. I learned to propagate and care for plants, and appreciate the gifts that Mother Nature showered upon me. I met hundreds of vibrant and wonderful people and soon felt my own vibrancy and aliveness returning. My talents were appreciated and rewarded. People wanted my paintings and the furniture I made. Finally my heart and soul were at peace, I was home.
After 14 years of idyllic life in my garden paradise I closed the business. My intention was to go back to school and resume studies in art and history. A surprise opportunity presented itself and I went to work for a well known photographer in Santa Rosa. I am presently a photographer, image editor, photo assistant and set designer.
ODDS AND ENDS
Born Feb 23 at 7:37am in year of the dragon.
Born in an army barracks in Camp Stoneman, Pittsburg, CA.
Fair, unbiased and slow to anger.
I believe no religion is superior to any other. There are many paths to Divinity.
We are all children of the Divine.