The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence have “manned the gates” of Folsom Street Fair for more than 25 years in a symbiotic relationship that nets funding for both organizations, but a conflict whipping up a social media frenzy could end the arrangement.
Longtime attendees of the Folsom Street Fair are used to their first sight at the annual leather and fetish jamboree being the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, working the gates to collect a now-$10 donation in exchange for a sticker that gets you a couple dollars off on booze and cocktail purchases. These Sisters are of course volunteers, and the money all goes to Folsom Street Events’ charitable beneficiaries (one of whom is the Sisters). But the Examiner is reporting on a rift between the Sisters and the Folsom Street Events organization that runs the fair, and the beatings may not continue if the Sisters’ morale doesn’t improve.
NOTE: There is some profanity in the posts and quotes cited below!
What appears to be at issue here is the how much the Sisters organization gets compensated, and the conditions of their volunteer shifts. These terms are contractually revised every year, and several Sisters speaking up individually don’t like where this year’s negotiations are heading. Sister Flora Goodthyme complains in the post above from Monday that “After a 25+ year partnership with Folsom Street Events the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence are being squeezed out,” and that “FSE even had the nerve to want to charge us $500 for every nun who doesn’t make it to their shift at Folsom. In a single shift 1 Nun could earn an expected $350 for charity, how does this make sense or build community.”
A nun not to be outdone, Sister Roma had a follow-up post a few hours later clarifying that “The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, Inc. have not been ‘kicked out’ of Folsom Street Fair by Folsom Street Events. The contract has been revised and the new terms are being voted on by the General Membership.”
Roma continues that “The fact is that over the past two or three years our role at the gates has been diminished. We no longer take donations, offer stickers, or work within the Fair footprint. We have been reduced to ‘greeters’ who merely stand there and welcome guests. As a result the volunteer work has become more tedious, but more importantly, the amount of money we are making FOR THE COMMUNITY has been greatly reduced.”
Folsom Street Events executive director Patrick Finger responded to Flora Goodthyme’s post saying that “We are not squeezing the Sisters out. There is a lot of inaccurate information in this post.” In a follow-up statement to the Examiner, he explained that “We have a good relationship with the leadership [of the Sisters],” and “The accurate story is that the Sisters’ leadership and the leadership of this organization are still negotiating the contract.”
Also chiming in on that post was Folsom Street Events president Jennifer Schuster, who said the organization is “still working on the details of a mutually beneficial agreement with the Sisters.” She also sheds some light on the alleged $500 no-show charge: “The suggestion that FSE would charge $500 for every nun that does not show is incorrect. Past agreements with the Sisters have always stipulated that they recruit a Volunteer Coordinator which earns an additional $500 donation. If the Volunteer Coordinator is not supplied, a $500 deduction is applied.”
Just like genitals are often whipped out publicly at Folsom Street Fair, here we have the dirty laundry of contract negotiations being exposed on social media. We will stress again that these are all negotiations, and clearly some of the Sisterhood are using public pressure to influence these negotiations. This dispute may not be as significant as some personal posts make it sound. Or it might all be worse than it sounds, and the Sisters may insist they will no longer be roped into volunteering at the Folsom Street Fair.
Image: torbakhopper via Flickr