Sister Lawna Jocqui

Sister Lawna Jocqui of the DFW Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence had tickets for the opening ceremony of the Gay Games in Cleveland, but Lawna says police refused to allow her and other sisters to enter the arena. The games are held every four years and run through Aug. 16.

Dallas Voice is following up on the story and will be contacting officials with the Cleveland PD, the city of Cleveland and the Gay Games. But for now, here is Sister Lawna’s account of what happened:

“There have apparently been some ‘ideas’ as to how the opening ceremonies for Gay Games 9 in Cleveland should be portrayed to the spectators and various other visitors to the city. I wasn’t aware of this until I arrived Wednesday night.

“I flew up early this week so I could visit my fellow Sisters and prepare for the opening ceremonies at Q Arena, as well as the Exequatur Weekend Celebration. Originally the Sisters were supposed to greet and take part in the opening ceremonies, and as I understand, those organizing and running the games — the city, Olympic officials and otherwise — were hesitant to allow any form of drag/crossdressing as part of the event.

“Perhaps it was a security measure? Luckily they canceled their plans on dress code enforcement for athletes and spectators. I also noticed they aren’t too big on calling it the Gay Games here in Cleveland. It’s referred to as ‘GG9’ or simply ‘The Games.’

“I asked a local why that is, and was informed the city of Cleveland isn’t too keen on the word ‘gay.’ I’m sure they’re just prepping their vocabulary for the Republican National Convention to be held here in 2016. Sister Rachel of Cleveland and I had 2 tickets to go in to at least watch the opening ceremony last night [Sunday, Aug. 10], so a group of the Cleveland Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, Sister Medusa, a member of the Seattle house, and myself representing the DFW Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence arrived at the sidewalk out front of Q Arena in downtown.

“We were immediately greeted by smiles from HRC, asking us to come up and take pics with them and share some hugs and laughs. We stayed with HRC as they passed out flags, literature and tote bags, greeted attendees, passed out our condoms to promote safe sex, and took photos with all those who came to enjoy the games.

“We’re Sisters. It’s what we’ve done for 35 years. We spread joy, expiate stigmatic guilt and promote safe sex and equal rights for all. It’s our mission!

“We were well received by the public as well as the Cleveland Police Department, many of whom stopped to shake our hands and even pose for pictures with us. Shortly after entry to the arena began, a lieutenant with Cleveland PD came to us and told us we were not allowed on Q Arena Property and advised us to leave. Even though Sister Rachel and I had tickets to not only be on the sidewalk in front of the arena, but to also be inside during the opening ceremonies, we were told we would need to go completely across the street in front of a closed building on another block.

“Two honor guards assisting us went back to speak to someone and the same lieutenant immediately intercepted them and told them he wasn’t going to tell them again to leave. They informed him they were not doing anything wrong and he yelled at them, ‘I don’t know who you are. You all fucking look alike! Go across the street!’

“Even though Sister Rachel and I had two pre-purchased tickets, we were not permitted near the arena. Later we were informed by the angry lieutenant that HRC had a contract with exclusive rights to be the only organization near the arena or passing anything out. I spoke to several HRC volunteers and they said they were not aware of such a contract, and it sounded like BS to them on the part of that particular law enforcement representative.

“After the games, many athletes and spectators asked, ‘Why didn’t the Sisters wall with us?’ and ‘Why weren’t the Sisters part of the ceremony?’ We’d simply reply that the Gay Games and the city of Cleveland didn’t want the Sisters.

“We stayed across the street, gave out condoms, hugs and smiles to all who passed by and continued our mission with our heads held high, even though we were not welcomed near the stadium. It’s not about pomp and circumstance, flags, banners and spotlights. It’s about helping people and loving your fellow humans. We accomplished that last night, therefore I view it as a successful evening, even though it didn’t go as planned.”