For a year now I've been doing a personal project w/ Bungalower.com called "Inhabit".
The series shares stories about the people who call Orlando home. It’s an exploration of where people live and spend their days, whether that be at home, in an office, the streets of downtown, or anywhere in between. I explore who people are and how they ended up there.
Who are you?
Jeff: I'm Jeff. I'm 40. I'm originally from Boston, Massachusetts. For a living, I work for an imaging center.
You moved here for it?
Jeff: Yes. I left Boston five years ago, because I wanted a drastic change in my life. I moved to New Orleans for two years, which is fun, but I hated the job and I always wanted to come to Florida. I ended up getting this job and I moved to Florida for it. That's how I ended up here.
Where are we currently and what is important to you about this space?
Jeff: We're currently in my home, and what's important about it, is that it's mine. It's my sanctuary. It's my home, it's where I hide away from everything. Keep to myself. If I want to do something, I can do it. I like just being able to say that it's mine. I worked very hard for it. It's a safe, clean and good environment for me and the dog.
What kind of dog is it?
She's a mix. She's a chihuahua and-- I don't know. I got her from a kill shelter in New Orleans. She was two weeks from getting put down when I found her. They found her wandering the streets. I almost jumped and say, "I saved her but she saved me". She's a good dog.
How much time do you spend in your home compared to anywhere else?
Mostly all the time. If I'm not at work, I'm home. Sometimes I go out at night for dinner, movies, and stuff like that. But a lot of my free time I like to be home, because I always have projects that I want to do, and things that I want to fix or change. I'm a homebody.
I know you through The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. Can you tell me about who they are and your relationship to them?
Jeff: They are a non-profit organization that are within the LGBTQ community. We help raise awareness for gay rights. We educate about safe sex, we also raise money for other non-profit organizations, have fundraisers, and have our face out in the community just to be there, be supportive, and help out as much as we can.
The sisters are a worldwide organization. Each chapter meets monthly and has a board with a president, vice president, and multitude of men and woman all taking on a variety of different roles to keep the group running efficiently. There is a hierarchy amongst the group. When entering the group, one must first start as an “Aspirant”. Over the course of a couple years, they will transition into different roles and eventually become a “Fully Professed” sister. Everyone has their own unique names and personas they embody.
Jeff: Some of them are funny, some of them are a play on words, some of them are meaningful. We get to pick our own sister name.
Is there a reason that people choose alternate identities outside of themselves? Why don't you just raise money, or do things as Jeff?
Jeff: I think, it's because when we're in whiteface, for me, you're a little more less guarded and more social. I'm not a super outgoing person. I'm very reserved, shy and quiet, but I feel when Edwina comes out, she's a little more social. There's times where, even as Edwina I’ll sit there, and not speak much, just observe and help out. There's other times where I'm loud and friendly.
Your sister name is “Edwina Rosewood”. Was there a particular reason why you chose that identity?
Jeff: Edwina was a character from a television show that I kind of grew up on and absolutely loved. Rosewood was a childhood street that I grew up on and had great memories from living there. It had a nice flow to it.
The sisters are always out and about in the community. You can keep up with their latest events over on their Facebook. If you see Jeff or any of the sisters, make sure to say hello!