Church boots bingo fundraiser

Cross-dressing ‘nun’ deemed ‘affront to Jesus Christ’ by Castro church’s official

A couple hundred gay men planning to play bingo with a band of cross-dressing nuns Thursday night had to find something else to do.

On Tuesday, just two days before the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence were to host their monthly bingo fundraiser, officials at Most Holy Redeemer Church at 100 Diamond St. canceled the group’s lease on the hall. Some charities slated to receive thousands of dollars in bingo proceeds this month and next say they will have to find money elsewhere to balance their budgets.

“People in our congregation were terribly offended by Peaches Christ being invited as the guest comedian. We saw it as a direct affront to Jesus Christ,” said Nick Andrade, the Parish Council president at Holy Redeemer, in reference to the San Francisco drag queen. “It’s the equivalent of using a Jewish space to host an Adolf Hitler look-alike contest.”

This ain’t your Granny’s bingo, the motto goes. At Revival Bingo, players get spanked for calling a false bingo, raffle prizes include liquor, and the “nuns” running the show are lightning quick with their religious and sexual jokes that leave crowds reeling.

Though Andrade says the group does great work raising money for charity, the sisters are disappointed that the church is not more tolerant of the risqué fundraising style they use to appeal to the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community.

“It’s a matter of how the sisters raise money versus how [the church] raises money. There’s this idea that there’s only one way to do it,” said “bingo chairnun,” Sister Barbi Mitzvah. Mitzvah, 44, is a partner in a Bay Area software company who volunteers up to 30 hours a week running fundraising events with the sisters.

After many years at Metropolitan Community Church, bingo’s popularity — and earning potential — grew so much that the sisters moved it to Holy Redeemer’s large Ellard Hall in September. Each month’s profits — about $3,000 from admission fees, raffle tickets and scratch card sales — are donated to Bay Area charities. The sisters were working on boosting revenues by starting food and beverage sales.

But this month, the AIDS Emergency Fund and Positive Resource Center, San Francisco groups that were counting on $1,500 each, will have to find another source to meet their clients’ needs. Tenderloin Tessie Holiday Dinners, which was going to receive enough money from December’s bingo proceeds to fund its entire winter dinner, will have to find another way to feed 1,000 homeless people this Christmas, said Toby Nelson, the group’s president. At least three other groups will lose expected charitable gifts.

The sisters refunded tickets for Thursday’s event, but encouraged people to donate the costs of their tickets for the nonprofit groups. Sister Mitzvah hopes to find a new home for Revival Bingo by January or February, but cautions that inspections and permits could delay the restart of the event by as much as eight months.

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