The phrase, ‘the clothes make the man,’ calls to mind a way in which people judge each other based on appearance. Yet, what about those whose expressiveness lies within clothing that carries a purpose greater than the heterosexual assertion of what a man or woman is and should be? The Atlanta (Georgia) chapter of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence is a group of people who are man or woman, of varying orientations, who have chosen to be a part of something much larger than their individual selves. It’s a level of commitment that far exceeds simply volunteering one day at the local soup kitchen – it’s a commitment to freedom, peace, and love; to the LGBTQ community and all those that need help or are suffering; to move forward rights for all people and not to limit or segregate the gay community. The clothes that make these men question how people view femininity and masculinity, how the religious can subjugate people, and how all of it can be owned and honored in ways that promote the Sisters initiatives.
The Flaming Sugarbaker Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence in Atlanta, Georgia
I began working on this series (that is currently unnamed) when I was openly acknowledging myself and who I am as a person. I am both attracted to the male and female sexes, moreover, I do not attach my sexuality to a person’s gender. In every way, my so-called coming out was an admission to myself, and also, an acceptance of myself– it never had anything to do with anyone else. What also came with all of this – a voice and a sense of strength. Before I was safe within a passive world. I was part of the entitled. It took a lot for me to just be okay with myself. After being scared for so long, I’ve found community – as if I am understood and I belong. A feeling I had never experienced before beginning the portraits with the Armorettes and later, with the Sisters and Panthers. And this community continues to grow as I embark to capture an essence and life of people whose identity is also associated with great purpose and commitment to others in the LGBTQ and straight communities of Atlanta.
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Sara Hopkins is a documentary and fine art photographer in Atlanta, Ga. She is interested in how appearance reflects identity; how gender, sexuality, and societal roles are related; and how people develop and perceive belief and class systems based on gender and sexual identities. Her work is primarily based in Georgia and the Southeastern region of the United States. She is currently studying for an MFA in Photography at Georgia State University.