“United we stand. Divided, they catch us one by one”
A political activist and a drag queen, José Julio Sarria – aka Mama José – ignited a wildfire of gay do-gooding in swinging 60s San Francisco that burns bright to this day.
The first openly gay man to run for political office in the United States, she founded the International Imperial Court System which now boasts over 65 LGBTQ+ charitable chapters in the United States, Canada and Mexico.
This image – one of the final portraits of Mama José – was captured on February 22nd 2013, taken at one of her favorite places at one of her favorite events: Twin Peaks Bar in The Castro, San Francisco at the annual Empresses’ Tea.
to the San Francisco Monarchs’ Charity Fund. Administered by Emperor William Bulkley and Empress Mimi Osa of San Francisco, the monies raised throughout their one-year tenure is given to charitable causes benefitting the local LGBTQ+ community.
In 1965, José Sarria proclaimed herself the Empress of San Francisco, and laid the foundation for the formation of the Imperial Court of San Francisco.
Today, the International Court System (ICS) has over 65 chapters in the United States, Canada and Mexico, making it the second largest GLBT organization in the world. On October 23rd, 2015 The International Imperial Court System celebrated its 50th Anniversary with a gala state dinner, The Golden Jubilee in Portland, Oregon, headed by the Titular Head of the International Imperial Court System, Queen Mother I of the Americas, Nicole Murray Ramirez.