Legendary Activist And Community Icon Fabian LoSchiavo Has Died

Legendary Activist And Community Icon Fabian LoSchiavo Has Died
Image: Unidentified photographer, Papers of Frances Rand, courtesy Australian Queer Archives

Fabian LoSchiavo, prominent Sydney-based LGBTQ+ activist and community icon, has died.

The 78’er and founding member of the Sydney Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence passed away on Friday afternoon, as confirmed in a post by First Mardi Gras Inc.

“It’s with great sadness that we acknowledge the sudden passing of Mother Inferior, [aka Fabian LoSchiavo],” writes the Sydney House of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence.

“Also known as Mother Abyss, Sister Volupta, Sister Venus de Lilo, and Monsignor Porcamadonna”.

Known by many names, LoSchiavo is remembered for his work in “promoting the expiation of stigmatic guilt through the promulgation of universal joy”.

Loyalty, Activism, And Enlightenment

The activist would adopt religious imagery and regalia in an effort to transform its meaning and retake it from those who would harm the LGBTQ+ community.

As the “Gay Male Nun” Mother Inferior, among other personas, LoSchiavo would spread the good word by attending queer events across Sydney – inviting patrons to be absolved of guilt and celebrate their unique identities.

Like the Order he helped found, LoSchiavo’s life was one of “loyalty, activism, and enlightenment”.

A 78’er, LoSchiavo was also among those to march in Sydney’s first Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras parade, an event marred by police brutality and government intervention.

His presence was felt across dozens of LGBTQ+ events since, having participated as recently as the 2023 World Pride march across the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

An Outpouring Of Grief And Remembrance

News of LoSchiavo’s death has been met with significant grief, with users online across many platforms remembering the life, work, and personal impact the activist has had on queer lives.

“A warm, kind, caring, and wise soul,” writes one user.

“An icon of our times,” another says.

“I will always remember the times I spent in his company” tweets one.

A service for LoSchiavo will occur at St Luke’s Enmore next week.

Further details are available on the First Mardi Gras Inc Facebook Page.

You May Also Like

18 responses to “Legendary Activist And Community Icon Fabian LoSchiavo Has Died”

  1. Vale dearest Mother.
    Thank you for the joy, the fun and also for enlightening me about the importance of having just the right amount of starch in one’s wimple (something often overlooked by modern nuns).
    Your wisdom, humility and wicked humour will be sorely missed.
    RIP my friend.

  2. Devastated that we have all lost our beautiful, gentle Fabian. He brought a deep understanding and empathy to everything he did, and his brilliant humour kept us laughing at ourselves while trying to do better. Creative and generous.

  3. Mother Inferior received myself, Sister Caned and Abl, along with Nun So Perfect, and Maria von Klaptrap into the order in the 1980s. A wonderful moment for us was carrying Fred Nile’s head on a platter. Mother lent me her pink habit for that occasion. Fabian was always funny, wicked, and kind. He will be missed

  4. I first met Fabian in 1979 at the opening of a (short-lived) Franciscan monastery in Newcastle. Although he lived in Sydney, anything to do with religion was like a moth to a flame for Fabian. (He once dragged me off to not one but two Billy Graham Crusades in the late 70’s!) We became friends and have continued so until his recent very passing. We sang together for over twenty years in a small choir, meeting twice a week and having a meal, including doing some concerts on the island of Salina in Sicily, which was where his ancestors had come from. After being essentially expelled from the Roman Catholic church because of his sexuality, he became a life-long Anglican and was, at various times, sacristan, chorister, Sunday school superintendent and for most of the time also Church Warden at St. Luke’s Anglican church and rarely missed a Sunday – despite numerous attempts by Sydney diocese to have him removed. Fabian was a man of many parts and a very complex person. Yes, he was an outrageous activist and loved to make fun of religion but at the same time he had a very deep spirituality that transcended even Christianity (he constructed a Buddhist shrine in his front yard!). I had always expected he would outlive me, and I and our little group of ex-choristers as well the parishioners of St. Lukes, are totally devastated by this loss. He was a constant in so many lives and always fun to be with. We will miss him immensely.

  5. Not only was I appointed the Rabbi of the Order, but eventually the Chief Rabbi of the whole order.
    Mother Abyss was present at both ceremonies to commemorate the memorial for the Saint – Saint Kendall the Constant. but he helped scatter the ashes of the Saint and performed at the ceremony to support the Rabbi.
    am 96 but life will not be the same until my end without Mother and the support over all the years since I arrived on the scene.

  6. This is a very sad loss. Fabian was a true leader. He inspired so many people to come out and to embrace gay liberation. Fabian was a warm, loving man with the most droll sense of humour. And a real artist.

    It is a privilege to have known him.

    St David of the Bar

  7. Fabian took part as an Anglican (“Gay, free and CoE”) in the 24 June 1978 morning march, and in subsequent mardi-gras arrest related protests, and became active in Gay Solidarity Group. He was a 78er, and member of First Mardi Gras, because of his role in the mardi gras related protests in 1978. His politics had been ultra conservative in the early 1970s when I met him, but he evolved in late seventies towards radicalism. He engaged with internationalists, ecologists, feminists, pacifists, anarchists, socialists, communists and revolutionaries from the late 1970s onward, and in Italy twenty years ago joined the far-left Partito della Rifundazione Comunista.

  8. I knew Fabian for nearly forty years, through St Luke’s Enmore, though after moving to Melbourne years ago, I saw less of him than before. Of course he was ‘outrageous’, but was also a faithful Anglican, devoted to trying to remove prejudice and mistreatment of LGBTI people by the Diocese of Sydney. Some might call him a split personality, but that would not be right – Fabian showed honesty and integrity at all times, and behaved generously to all – except when aiming one of his barbs at some judgmental clergyman.

  9. The Sisters “under” Fabian were comic genius – in the tradition of drag but not drag (to my mind anyway) – somehow sprung, along with drag, from the music hall, pantomime and cabaret wellspring from which Barry Humphries’ characters gushed forth – both sadly gone at a time when it is more important than ever to lampoon pompous and damaging organisations like the churches, and to laugh at ourselves.

  10. I remember the first time I met Fabian. It was a housewarming party in Enmore in the mid 1980s. He was coming down the stairs in a cloud of smoke with his ubiquitous squeezebox in full Vatican II habit. Quite an apparition. With his good friend, and later, my good friend, Jen swinging the thuribule. I’m pretty sure this was my introduction to the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence.

    I would later go on to join the collective and Fabian would profess me before I was sent to London as a Missionary. Though most of them never met him the UK Sisters owe him a huge debt, as does the Order world-wide.

    I don’t think I properly realised the high regard with which Fabian was held by the Community until I returned from an SPI weekend retreat at Minto to find gay Sydney in uproar. At the retreat Fabian pointed out to all the sisters there present that as a founding member of the Australian House he’d never actually been a novice and would we allow him to ‘join’ the Novitiate. And being very accommodating nuns we, of course, granted his wish. And with the sort of joy only Fabian could muster he embraced the ‘white veil’ as Novice Sister Venus de Lilo.

    It was only when I got back to Sydney and found myself confronted by friends and strangers in absolute outrage and uproar demanding an explanation for why we had apparently ‘deposed’ Mother inferior. And who on earth did we think we were, treating her with such disdain?

    To this day I’m not sure how much Fabian had his hand in how all of it got spun. But he was ever mischievous, and I like to think he relished the chaos that sometimes surrounded him. It was a pleasure and a privilege to have known him. He will be sadly missed by many far and wide.

  11. So sad to hear this. As a novice I benefited significantly from Mother Inferior’s steady and patient guidance.
    Sr Mary Kubler-Ross of the Critical Mass of Unconditional Love

  12. Fabian will be fondly remembered my me :
    Sister Maria von Klapp Trapp. She professed me into the order of sisters in early 1980s and I left Australia for U.K. in 1990. Ashes to ashes and dust to dust.. may your journey as atoms brighten the universe .

  13. So sad to hear this news. A dear man who I was privileged to know through our connection with St Lukes Encore Choir. The gentlest soul I’ve ever known. RIP Vale Fabian😥

  14. On behalf of the Lo Schiavo family, I extend our gratitude to all those who share our grief and shock at the loss of our brother. Fabian meant as much to all the communities he worked with, as he did in his own family. I am remembering all his dear friends who stood beside him in all his work, and I acknowledge and share their deep, and utter grief at losing him. The world will never be anywhere near the same without him.

  15. Fabian made a great contribution to our movement. He was one of those activists who did not seek any accolades. I should make one correction. While Fabian was a ’78er’, he was not at Sydney’s first gay Mardi Gras. He confirmed that with me on numerous occasions. The last being in a Message on 23 October 2022. May Fabian rest in peace!

  16. extremely sad Fabián was part of are family he use to cook us the best lasagna at young street he love the Archibald family we will miss he alot very sad we i was told the news

  17. Fabian was a wonderful soul much loved by everyone who had the privilege of knowing him.
    His grace and kindness will always be remembered by me.
    My memories of Fabian will always be of one the special men I had the joy to know