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Imperial Court de San Diego to celebrate 40 years

SAN DIEGO -- Assemblymember Toni Atkins and San Diego City Councilmember Todd Gloria will join the Imperial Court de San Diego for its 40th anniversary celebrations, taking place Friday, Feb. 10, through Sunday, Feb. 12.

Over the weekend, reigning emperor of the San Diego court Allan Spyere will be joined by Empress Erika Odessa to crown the organization's 40th set of monarchs.

The weekend will also serve as a celebration of the court's 39th reign, which is coming to a close.

"Allan and Erika have raised well over $60,000 during their year-long reign," Imperial Court de San Diego board president Linny Tomas said. "The entire community is invited to our celebrations and we hope there will be good representation from the many organizations we have helped."

Initially organized in 1971, with its first election and coronation in 1972, the Imperial Court de San Diego has hosted fundraisers and events to benefit LGBT organizations in San Diego County. Among the programs sponsored by the court include the Harvey Milk/NMR Student Scholarship Program, the Tijuana AIDS Fund, the Queen Eddie Youth Fund, the Community Children's Easter Egg Hunt, Scott Carlson Thanksgiving Dinner, the Benjamin F. Dillingham III Community Grant, Toni Atkins Lesbian Health Fund, Toys for Kids and the Winter Blanket Drive.

The International Court System was founded in 1965 by WWII veteran and Latino entertainer Jose Julio Sarria, who was crowned Empress I of San Francisco.

Sarria will be among the honored guests at the weekend celebration, and will joined by Ted Northe, Empress I of Canada.

The Imperial Court de San Diego is known for its pivotal role in San Diego's early LGBT organizing. It was involved with San Diego's first LGBT Pride marches in the 1970s, and also helped fight homophobes such as Anita Bryant and John Briggs, and raised money to help those living with HIV/AIDS in the earliest days of the virus.

The organization is part of the International Court System which has chapters in nearly 70 cities in Canada, Mexico and the United States. Representatives from courts in these three nations are planning to travel to San Diego for the affair.

Tickets and information about the weekend's schedule of events can be found online. Events will take place at the Mission Valley Marriott Hotel.