News Briefs: Sarria to be posthumously honored at SF event

  • by Cynthia Laird, News Editor
  • Wednesday August 16, 2023
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José Julio Sarria, Absolute Empress I, the Widow Norton, blew out a single candle on a small cake to celebrate his 90th birthday during an Imperial Council of San Francisco sponsored evening on December 8, 2012. Joining Sarria on the dais were Empress Pansy of New York City, left, and Emperor XVI After Norton Steven Rascher. Photo: Rick Gerharter
José Julio Sarria, Absolute Empress I, the Widow Norton, blew out a single candle on a small cake to celebrate his 90th birthday during an Imperial Council of San Francisco sponsored evening on December 8, 2012. Joining Sarria on the dais were Empress Pansy of New York City, left, and Emperor XVI After Norton Steven Rascher. Photo: Rick Gerharter

Fresh off the news earlier this week that José Julio Sarria, a gay man and drag queen who left a lasting impact on politics and the LGBTQ community, was posthumously inducted into the California Hall of Fame, he will be honored at an event in San Francisco on the anniversary of his passing.

Sarria, who founded the Imperial Court System in 1965 and proclaimed himself Empress I, will be honored by Empress XLI Galilea and the Imperial Council Saturday, August 19, from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. at Beaux SF, 2344 Market Street in San Francisco's LGBTQ Castro neighborhood.

Sarria died August 19, 2013, as the Bay Area Reporter previously reported. He was reportedly 90 at the time of his passing, though there is some discrepancy on his actual birthdate, with some records indicating it was December 13, 1922. The Online Archive of California says Sarria was born December 12, 1923.

Before starting the Imperial Council, a philanthropic drag organization, Sarria, a Latino World War II veteran, became the first known gay person to seek public office with his ultimately unsuccessful 1961 bid for a San Francisco Board of Supervisors seat.

On Monday, as the B.A.R. reported, California Governor Gavin Newsom announced that Sarria would be inducted into the California Hall of Fame in a virtual ceremony set for Tuesday, August 22. He will be named to the hall along with several other Golden State trailblazers in an all-posthumous class of inductees, the governor's office noted in a news release.

The Empresses Tea at Beaux is a fundraising event for the upcoming 60th anniversary of the Imperial Council of San Francisco in 2025. A flyer stated that empresses/female titleholders are asked to wear hats for the annual tradition.

SF elections dept. seeks new sticker design

The ubiquitous "I voted" stickers that San Franciscans get when they cast or mail in their ballots are likely to have a new look. The San Francisco Department of Elections is having a sticker design contest and invites city residents to participate either by submitting their own design and/or helping choose the winner.

San Francisco residents ages 18 and over can submit their sticker design until Friday, September 22.

After evaluating design submissions, a five-member panel will nominate the finalists. Then, between October 10-17, San Franciscans can select their favorite design or choose to keep the current "I voted" sticker, a news release stated.

"We are looking forward to engaging with thousands of San Franciscans through this contest," stated John Arntz, elections department director. "By hosting this contest, we hope to draw attention to elections and remind everyone to prepare for the presidential election cycle. I encourage anyone interested to spread the word, to submit a design, or to help choose the winner."

The winning sticker will be issued to all San Francisco voters in the 2024 elections. The winner will receive $1,000. Second-place will receive $500, and third-place will receive $300, according to the release.

Next year, the department plans to host the "Future voter" sticker contest that will be open to local K-12 students, officials said.

For more information on the current contest, including all rules, go to

A man waved the Progress Pride flag during the June Pride parade. Photo: Jane Philomen Cleland  

SF Pride to hold 'gratitude' party
San Francisco Pride will hold its Gratitude party to thank volunteers and members Saturday, August 19, from 2 to 5 p.m. at the Lonestar Saloon, 1354 Harrison Street in the city's South of Market neighborhood.

A news release stated that anyone over the age of 21 is welcome to attend. SF Pride members and volunteers will be granted free entry. For others who wish to attend, a suggested donation of $20 is requested, though no one will be turned away for lack of funds.

Small bites will be provided by Concept Kitchen, and DJs Beverly Chills and Newoncé will be spinning beats.

LGBTQ task force unveils new website
The National LGBTQ Task Force, which is marking its 50th anniversary this year, has unveiled a redesigned website with increased accessibility. The organization with a progressive bent was established in 1973 and is the oldest national political advocacy organization for the LGBTQ community, officials stated in a news release.

According to the release, the new design was conceived to offer visitors ways to become involved with the organization, the larger LGBTQ community, and the many issues advocated by the task force.

The site features updated brand colors and follows web content accessibility guidelines (level 2) for color contrast and enlarged font size. The new adjustment will also serve those with color blindness, the release noted.

There is Spanish-language translation, a volunteer hub, an in the news panel, and a historical timeline.

The release stated that the task force worked closely with the Rad Campaign, a website designer.

"From book bans to drag bans to bans on gender-affirming care and the relentless attacks on the LGBTQIA+ community, Rad Campaign had one big audacious goal — to create an accessible website that serves as a safe and inclusive space where every LGBTQIA+ person or ally feels welcome and seen and is given the resources and power to get involved in some of the most important issues of our lifetime," stated Allyson Kapin, Rad Campaign co-founder.

Task force officials were happy with the finished product.

"We're pleased to offer a new web format that is accessible to more members of the community and our allies," stated Cathy Renna, communications director. "The task force is grateful for our active volunteer base, and the newly updated site offers new ways to stay in touch and get involved as advocates, participating in virtual and in person events and trainings, volunteering at the Creating Change conference, and supporting our centerpiece fundraising events like the gala and Winter Party Festival."

This year's Creating Change was held in San Francisco and generated some controversy, as the B.A.R. reported.

Next year's gathering of progressive LGBTQ community members is slated for New Orleans in January. There will be a community reception in the Big Easy August 24 to celebrate the conference coming to Louisiana.

To view the new website, go to

SF Civic Center Carnival coming up
The Civic Center Carnival, which aims to infuse the heart of San Francisco with summer fun and family entertainment, is coming up next week.

A news release from Mayor London Breed's office stated the event runs Thursday, August 24, through Sunday, August 27, on Fulton Street between the main branch of the San Francisco Public Library and the Asian Art Museum. It will be open from 2:30 to 9:30 p.m. the first day; 12:30 to 9:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday; and noon to 8 p.m. Sunday. Admission requires a minimum $10 purchase toward games, rides, or food for each person over 12, the release stated. The San Francisco Recreation and Park Department will distribute a limited number of complimentary passes to nonprofits serving youth in its equity zones, including the Tenderloin and South of Market neighborhoods, according to the release.

Attractions will include a Ferris wheel, a 100-foot super slide, fun house, spinning teacups, and more. Classic fair treats will be available for purchase, including hand-dipped corn dogs, funnel cakes, and Hawaiian shave ice.

"Bringing a carnival to Civic Center is one of the many ways we are creating joy and celebrating in the heart of our city," Breed stated. "Creating vibrant, lively public spaces with activities people of all ages can enjoy is how we create stronger, safer communities."

The release noted that the carnival comes on the heels of Rec and Park's announcement of a pilot program to transform neighboring United Nations Plaza. The agency will install a street skating area, exercise equipment, and tables for chess, pingpong, and teqball. That project is scheduled to break ground in September and open roughly six weeks later.

Not everyone is happy about the plan. The San Francisco Chronicle reported that vendors at the U.N. Plaza farmers market feel squeezed out by the changes and worry they will lose customers. The Heart of the City Farmers Market has operated in the plaza area since 1981 and will move on September 6 to Fulton Plaza, which is on Fulton Street between the Asian Art Museum and Main Branch of the San Francisco Public Library, the paper reported.

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