Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Day 4

I feel like I should start off by redacting a lot of what I said in my last post; after talking to Jason Villalobos, an incredible HIV/AIDS activist and speaker, there was this unexpected and needed surge of commitment to this trip. As an "unconventional lecturer" he spoke predominantly from his own experiences and it ended up being an incredibly moving and motivational reminder that simple, individual acts make an impact. That being said, a lot of today was tinged with this feeling of...I guess the best word would be ineptitude.

A lot of this stems from the fact that this is the first half hour of the day back at the hostel-I'm exhausted. Traipsing around Noa Valley distributing flyers for SFWAR (San Francisco Women Against Rape)'s Walk To End Rape, getting lost trying to finagle our way back to the three or four streets we know, and then settling back in the Castro for a few hours waiting to meet with the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence has proved to be quite the adventure. The Sisters proved to be intriguing, particularly their stance on religion and spirituality in their work. For those unfamiliar with The Sisters here is their website: http://thesisters.org/. The group is quite obviously controversial for religious institutions-particularly the Catholic Church. They are "queer nuns" who serve much of the same form and function that conventional nuns do: they are activists, advocates, and altruists who work particularly in the queer community.

Originally we were supposed to help them construct safe sex kits, but that fell through and instead we had a dialogue with them about their organization, particularly its origination. What really struck me during the presentation/discussion was the discourse surrounding religion. As a Religion major with a focus on inter-faith dialogue the comments regarding religion from the Sisters were a little jarring. Obviously as a heterosexual, white female my opinions can be, as a speaker earlier in the week stated, "unnecessary," but this topic is one that I'm devoting my life to exploring. The Sisters are angry at the Church, but not religion. The general consensus (again, skewed by the fact that we only spoke to a couple of the Sisters) was that spiritual or religious sentiments were not outside of the Sister's mission; they are nuns, serving and fostering their community in the same manner that others do. The Church, however, is viewed as an ignorant, unfavorable institution. That is completely justified and a lot of my personal views coincide with that viewpoint, but my consternation comes from the fact that I still think the rift between Church and identity can be reconciled. I, in essence, need the possibility of that rectification in order to maintain my faith in humankind. Talking to the Sisters sort of reignited that sense of disconnect between possibility and practice.

Today was also filled with so many wonderful moments (a particularly phenomenal one in a Midwife Center a woman invited me in and told me it was "estrogen central" so of course) I could hang up my flyers), but I feel like my blog posts always fixate on my rambling attempts to understand my own thoughts. Hopefully the underlying optimism and excitement of this trip is seeping through, at least slightly.


---Also no one is lying about San Francisco's treacherous hills. My calves feel like steel.

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