Sister Shea Hung-Ho, left, says the DFW Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence are here to help

The DFW Sisters ready for its annual Red Dress Party benefit event

RICH LOPEZ | Staff writer

The 1980s were a landmark decade. It was then that the queer community — furious over and fed up with how the mainstream world was ignoring AIDS — responded to the deadly epidemic with a vengeance, and proudly embracing visibility and activism — from newspapers to community centers. Perhaps no group was more proud, out, visible and active than the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence.

Dressed as nuns, with stark white makeup and irreverent monikers, the Sisters held their inaugural Red Dress party on May Day in 1982 at San Francisco’s White Russian Hall. That tradition has, through the years, perpetuated and spread — appropriately enough — to SPI’s other chapters, including the DFW Sisters.

That first Red Dress Party in San Francisco “was more of a political act against the mayor, Diane Feinstein,” explained Dallas Sister Shea Hung-Ho. “Now, we’ve all turned it into an HIV/AIDS awareness event.”

So Dallas, get your red dress couture ready. This year, the Dallas Sisters will host Disco Inferno: Red Dress Extravaganza on May 18 at the Dallas Eagle. The high-energy night will feature headlining DJs, a silent auction, live entertainment and more — all for a good cause.

“Our beneficiary every year is the Greg Dollgener Memorial AIDS Fund. We have a great relationship with them, and this can bring attention to that organization’s services for those living with HIV/AIDS,” Sister Shea said.

Sister SoFonda Chickenwings, left, thanked Dallas Eagle for hosting the 2024 Red Dress Party

The organization works with area HIV/AIDS service organizations to provide financial assistance to people living with HIV in ways that other agencies are unable to do. With Red Dress, the Sisters stand — and dance —  in solidarity and compassion with the HIV/AIDS community.

“We get to all come together — the Sisters, the community — to raise money, and it’s a good night for everyone,” Sister SoFonda Chickenwings said. “And we really appreciate The Dallas Eagle hosting the event for us.”

Before the previous iteration of Dallas Eagle closed during the pandemic, it was often the spot for the annual Red Dress parties. The event has also been held at TMC and The Hidden Door, this year marks a homecoming for the Sisters.

“The Eagle was so kind to welcome us back,” Sister Shea said. “We’ve done stuff there before since they’ve reopened, but this will be special.”

Sister Shea joined the house in 2019 and considers herself “fairly new” to the Sisters. Sister SoFonda also started her initiation process in 2019. The two both said they were drawn to the civic organization for a variety of reasons. Mostly though, it was the connection they saw between the Sisters and their own community.

“I would see them out and the different things they were doing,” Sister SoFonda said. “I knew Sister Lola Hangers and got interested. I had given time with professional volunteer groups but never personally, and I knew I needed to start within my community. I became fully professed in 2022.”

Sister Shea agreed, saying that being a Sister is about being there for the community she is a part of. She also joined by way of Sister Lola and began the year-long process to become fully professed.

The Sisters may be camp and fun, but becoming one is no joke. Sister Shea described her process:

“The first three months, we’re required to go to all the meetings and events we can. Afterward, we move to postulancy and humble ourselves and learn from the other sisters what it means to be that,” she said. “Once we receive noviceship, we get the wimple, and we’re given a voice.

“With our Mother’s support, we’re voted on to become elevated to fully professed status. It’s a lot of work, but it’s a lot of fun.”
Sister Shea Hung-Ho is now the Mistress of the House — or, in layman’s terms, president of the DFW chapter.

As fully professed Sisters, Sister Shea and Sister SoFonda both continue the legacy of the Red Dress party that began in 1982. “We have fun doing this and hope everyone makes it out,” Sister SoFonda said. “The more the merrier I say.”

Red Dress is about having a good time, but Sister Shea does find her own fulfilment with the party and the Sisterhood. “This isn’t just about HIV/AIDS,” she said.

“There are other issues — like drug use and domestic abuse — and we are here to help those people, too.

“We’re here to help everyone, and that’s what it means for me. Whether it’s a party or just one-on-one, the DFW Sisters will be there for the community.”

For Red Dress Party tickets, visit