Guitarist and noted Trump pal Ted Nugent posted a picture featuring a person in a red dress, a sparkling headdress, and white face paint standing on the Minnesota Capitol steps.
“This is an anti-gun radical protesting your rights yesterday in Minneapolis,” the caption read.
That’s not exactly accurate. The photo was actually taken in St. Paul at a rally led by grassroots gun control organizations like Moms Demand Action and Protect Minnesota. The previous weekend, two mass shootings had rocked the nation, one in Texas and the other in Ohio. The moms and their fellow activists wanted “common sense” gun legislation, like stricter background checks.
But Nugent and the commenters on his post seemed to be more concerned with how the person in the photo looked than what was actually going on.
“Go ahead and profile,” he wrote. “Because everybody who thinks another gun law will end the slaughter of innocents is as braindead and idiotic as this anti-human buffoon.”
He went on to say that the “freedom hating freaks want their subjects unarmed and helpless,” and “Fuckyou.”
Others called the person on the steps a “fuckin clown.” Still others went lower, because a Ted Nugent post is where enlightenment always shines brightest.
“What the fuck is that beast doing?!?!” one asked. “Please someone put them out of their misery!! LMFAO!!!”
The person in the photo is not a “clown” or a “beast.” It’s Sister Tammy Gaye-Bakery of the Ladies of the Lakes. If you’ve spent any amount of time at Twin Cities protests, Pride Parades, and charity events, you’ve probably run into her or her sisters.
The Ladies of the Lakes is a Twin Cities chapter of an international nonprofit, the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. Since 1979, these queer and trans nuns have been taking sacred vows, raising money for charity, showing up for causes, and sharing the good news—that it’s more than okay to just be yourself.
“Our main mission is to spread joy,” Chapter President Luna Loveagoodtime says. If there’s “enough room in the world” for their wimples and glittery beards, there’s more than enough room for you.
They were at the rally because this is a cause near and dear to their hearts. Gun violence has a huge impact on the queer community, specifically on trans women of color. And besides, as Loveagoodtime put it, queer issues are human issues.
For the most part, the actual event went great. The sisters remarked, only half-joking, that more people took their pictures than at Pride, which is usually their most popular event. They only learned later that some of the people snapping photos had ulterior motives.
By the end of last week, Gaye-Bakery heard from her mother that none other than Nugent had posted a photo of her on Facebook. Then the sisters started finding myriad other conservative pages and blogs spreading the word, even posting a YouTube video of Gaye-Bakery doing a humorous reading of a bedtime story and labeling it “predatory.”
There were long threads of comments on the Mill City Citizen Media and the Daily Zealot Facebook groups, and a short shout-out on a Minnesota Gun Rights blog post. They called Gaye-Bakery a “sick fucker” and a “creep,” and called the sisters “demons and abominations.”
“They wanna disarm the manly men and everyone so they can have at the children,” a commenter on the Mill City Citizen Media Facebook group said. “Not surprised.”
Loveagoodtime says her chapter has been doing this kind of activism for a while, but the Ladies of the Lakes have never blown up like this in the far-right corners of the internet. This is the first time they’ve been specifically targeted for showing up at an event.
They’re not too worried, she says. It’s pretty par for the course that conservatives reflexively call queer and trans folk “predatory,” and experience shows the loudest keyboard warriors almost never show up to events in person (see Drag Story Hour for an example). Some of the sisters even found some of the comments laughable.
“What a glorious day!” a post said on the Ladies’ Facebook page. “Our very own Tammy Gaye-Bakery has been honored by the ‘Nooge’ and company. We are so proud of our ‘anti-human buffoon.’”
What does bother them, Loveagoodtime says, is knowing that these commenters usually have children and grandchildren, who may be learning to see people like the sisters as creeps, pedophiles, and demons.
“It just makes me sad that they have this much anger and hate and bigotry in their lives,” she says, “And they project it on us.”
The sisters will nonetheless keep doing their sacred work. Loveagoodtime encourages everyone to come out and see them at the Black Hart of St. Paul on Saturday, where they’re putting on a charity drag show.
And if the people calling them names ever need the Ladies' support, she says they’re always welcome to it.