News Briefs: Sarria to be posthumously honored in Palm Springs

  • by Cynthia Laird, News Editor
  • Wednesday December 7, 2022
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José Julio Sarria will be posthumously honored with a star on the Palm Springs Walk of Stars December 12. Photo: Palm Springs Chamber of Commerce
José Julio Sarria will be posthumously honored with a star on the Palm Springs Walk of Stars December 12. Photo: Palm Springs Chamber of Commerce

The California Hall of Fame may have snubbed him, but the city of Palm Springs will posthumously honor Latino drag icon and activist José Julio Sarria on its Walk of Stars Monday, December 12.

As the Bay Area Reporter previously reported, Sarria's star will be located near the Marilyn Monroe statue on Museum Way. A project of the José Sarria Foundation and the city's chamber of commerce, the event will commemorate Sarria's 100th birthday. Sarria, who died in 2013 at the age of 90, was born in San Francisco though there is some discrepancy on his actual birthdate. He used the date December 12, 1922 and that is what is inscribed on his headstone at his burial plot.

But some records indicate Sarria was born on December 13, while several birth certificates that the foundation has in its collection have him being born a year later. The Online Archive of California says Sarria was born December 12, 1923 at St. Francis Hospital in San Francisco.

Sarria became famous in the 1950s performing in drag at the North Beach gay hangout the Black Cat Cafe. A veteran and prominent Latino leader, he made history in 1961 with his unsuccessful bid for a San Francisco Board of Supervisors seat. It marked the first time an out gay person had sought elected office in the U.S.

In 1965, Sarria founded the Imperial Court System in San Francisco, having proclaimed himself Empress I of San Francisco. It has since crowned scores of empresses, emperors, and other drag royalty while raising funds for charitable causes.

The court continues to be a major LGBTQ philanthropic group with chapters throughout North America. For years LGBTQ leaders have called for Sarria to be inducted into the California Hall of Fame and, several years ago, launched an effort to see him featured on a U.S. postal stamp.

"I am so excited to see José enshrined in the Walk of Stars," Gene Brake, founder and chair of the José Sarria Foundation, stated in a news release. "As the 'mother' of the gay community, he gave birth to a political movement as well as an entire community, while teaching us how to live our authentic lives as equal members of our society."

Added Palm Springs Chamber of Commerce CEO Nona Watson, "The chamber is thrilled to host the star ceremony for José Julio Sarria, giving him the 453rd star."

As the B.A.R. previously reported, the California Hall of Fame, which is a project of Governor Gavin Newsom, first partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom, and the California Museum, recently announced its 2022 inductees. LGBTQ political and community leaders have been working for years to see Sarria posthumously inducted, but this year's class, to be inducted December 13, includes only one out member, lesbian soccer star Megan Rapinoe.

In the B.A.R.'s Political Notebook column last week, lesbian state Senator Susan Talamantes Eggman (D-Stockton), the incoming chair of the Legislative LGBTQ Caucus, pledged to see that Sarria is inducted into the California hall.

The Palm Springs ceremony takes place at 2 p.m. December 12 and is open to the public. Mayor Lisa Middleton, a transgender woman on the City Council whose mayoral rotation ends December 15, is expected to preside over the ceremony.

Closer to home, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors will mark December 13 as "José Sarria Day" in the City and County of San Francisco, in recognition of his significant contributions to the city and LGBTQ history, and in celebration of his 100th birthday.

Leather district to hold holiday market

Folks looking for that, well, unique holiday gift may find what they're looking for at the Leather & LGBTQ Cultural District's Second Saturday Holiday Market. Hosted with the SOMA West Community Benefit District, the holiday market will take place at multiple locations in the South of Market neighborhood.

Featuring kinky gifts and toys by local artists, craftspeople, and businesses, the event takes place Saturday, December 10, from noon to 5 p.m. A shuttle with hop-on, hop-off service will be available during those hours as well. (Look for the colorful "hippie bus.")

"The Artist and Artisan Fair features 20 booths featuring a wide variety of handmade kink-related items by local artists and vendors," according to a news release from the leather district. Participating businesses include San Francisco Fetish Flea, Mr S Leather, Leather Etc., Wicked Grounds, Azúcar Lounge, and SF Eagle.

Other activities include erotic performance art by Twisted Windows, a naughty Santa, and the Leather District Gear Swap at SOMArts, 934 Brannan Street. To sell or donate items for the swap, they should be brought to the gear swap booth between 11:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m.

Hormel center to hold drag story hour

Drag Queen Story Hours have been the subject of right-wing intimidation, including in the Bay Area back in June, but kids can enjoy one through the San Francisco Public Library's James C. Hormel LGBTQIA Center Saturday, December 17, at 11 a.m. at the Merced branch library, 155 Winston Drive in San Francisco.

People can join drag artist Persia as she takes kids on an enchanted tour that celebrates a rainbow of diversity, fun, and the unique value and worth of everyone, an email announcement stated.

There is no cost to attend.

Film on Czech Republic marriage equality efforts

Movies that Matter, an international film festival on human rights from the Netherlands, will have a local screening of "The Law of Love," a documentary by Barbora Chalupova about the long battle to open up marriage to same-sex couples in the Czech Republic. The festival is in partnership with Frameline, the LGBTQ film festival in San Francisco.

An email from Sietze Vermeulen, head of communications and public diplomacy for the Consulate General of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in San Francisco, stated that the screening will take place Wednesday, December 14, at 7 p.m. at the Castro Theatre, 429 Castro Street. Admission is free to thank the Castro neighborhood for its warm welcome of Queen Máxima back in September, Vermeulen stated. People can get tickets via Eventbrite.

During the queen's visit, she visited the GLBT Historical Society Museum and met with LGBTQ leaders at the historic Twin Peaks Tavern in the LGBTQ neighborhood.

Well-being Fair in SF

Mukunda Studio and Trendwell Collective will hold its first seasonal Well-being Fair Sunday, December 18, from 1 to 5 p.m. at the studio, 1250 Folsom Street, second floor, in San Francisco.

A news release stated that the afternoon would feature eight to 10 in-person presenters sharing information and offering mini-sessions to attendees. From 1 to 2:15 p.m. will be the EmpowerHour community discussion both as a live and livestreamed event, talking about well-being from the perspective of the presenters. Plant-based snacks and beverages will be offered.

Mukunda Studio is a new gay Hapa-owned well-being studio that opened on March 20, 2020 by Mukunda Marc Morozumi. Initially, all classes and private sessions were offered online because of the COVID pandemic, the release stated. Since then, its doors have opened and it now offers both in-person and livestream classes simultaneously.

The studio offers yoga and well-being, community resources, studio rentals, and video/media services, the release stated.

Trendwell Collective is a San Francisco-based wellness platform that connects values-aligned studio partners and facilitators with individuals and organizations overlooked by the mainstream wellness industry, the release stated.

To pre-register for the upcoming Well-being Fair, click here. The cost is sliding scale, $5-$40. Masks are optional unless city guidance changes, according to the release.

Justice dept. launches new ADA website

The U.S. Department of Justice has announced that it has launched a new and improved version of its Americans with Disabilities website, at

A news release stated that the updated version of the website is designed to more effectively serve the public and help expand access for people with disabilities. The website works well with mobile devices, the release noted, includes easy-to-use navigation tools, and is written in plain language.

To find out more about the ADA, visit the website or call the Justice Department's toll-free ADA information line at 1-800-514-0301 (voice) or 1-833-610-1264 (TDD).

Eric Burkett contributed reporting.

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