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Empress Jose Julio Sarria remembered on fifth anniversary of his death

City Commissioner Nicole M. Ramirez has called Jose Julio Sarria "The Rosa Parks of the Gay Rights Movement."
Photo credit:
Nicole Murray-Ramirez

This past weekend Commissioner Nicole Murray Ramirez flew to San Francisco to attend memorial events on the fifth anniversary of the death of LGBT activist Empress Jose Julio Sarria. 

In 1961 Sarria, a World War II veteran, made history when he became the first openly gay candidate to run for public office (San Francisco Board of Supervisors).

Sarria was also a devoted LGBT pioneer who established many civil rights organizations in California. In the 60s the Latino-American also became a drag celebrity and was crowned the first Empress of San Francisco and established the oldest LGBT organization in the world: The International Imperial Courts System of the United States. Since then it has expanded to Canada and Mexico which now has chapters in 70 cities within these three nations.

In 2007 Empress Jose crowned Empress Nicole the Great de San Diego as her successor and proclaimed Nicole as her heir and titular leader of the Imperial Courts with the title and position of "Queen Mother I of the Americas" ina most regal ceremony in Seattle, Washington that 35 San Diegans attended including Senator Toni Atkins and State Assemblyman Todd Gloria.

City Commissioner Nicole M. Ramirez has called Jose Julio Sarria "The Rosa Parks of the Gay Rights Movement" and led the successful campaign (along with Supervisor Bevan Duffy) to get a street named after Jose in San Francisco. There are two documentaries scheduled to be released this year on the life of Jose: "50 Years of Fabulous" and "Nelly Queen....the Life of Jose Julio Sarria".

There is also an organized effort to get Sarria inducted into the prestigious "California Hall of Fame" which Senator Atkins and Assemblymember Gloria serve as "Honorary Chairs."

Murray-Ramirez and Sacramento Businessman Terry Sidie established the International Jose Julio Scholarship Program which in just two years raised over $160,000.

Nicole and Emperor John Carrillo (President of the San Francisco Imperial Court) visited Sarria at his gravesite and place flowers at the marker.

They also visited Jose Street in the Castro and Jose's Rainbow Street Plaque and attended the "5th Annual Empresses Tea" at the Twin Peeks Bar.