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    Fantabulousness at the Imperial Court’s 49th Coronation

    howardWhat does one wear to a coronation? I’ve never had to ask myself that question before. But, as I was asked to give a Jewish blessing/prayer at the San Francisco Imperial Court’s 49th Coronation, I not only had to think about what I was going to wear, but what I would say.

    I’ve spoken in front of many large groups before, but never one that I knew would be so fashion-conscious and fantabulously bedecked and bejeweled. I knew I would be wearing a suit and tie. More importantly, I had to figure out how I would accessorize! Though I’ve never done drag, I do have a small collection of brooches: some thanks to my grandmother and some thanks to eBay.

    When I think of a coronation, I think of crowning royalty. So I selected my crown brooch and added just a bit more bling.

    What does a coronation have to do with a wedding column? Everything! The pomp. The circumstance. Special gowns, tuxes and uniforms. Creating a special space. Taking time crafting a meaningful and memorable experience. Presenting a meaningful ritual grounded in tradition. Striving to make everyone feel welcome. Those are my goals at each and every wedding at which I officiate. And I believe those goals were beautifully met at the coronation.

    My first step in learning about the upcoming coronation was to look at the Imperial Council’s website. I was relieved to find a friend of mine, Jim Oerther, was a Lord of the Realm. Jim has a strong religious background, so I knew that he would be able to give me great advice on proper attire and the tenor of my comments.

    I then contacted the other clergy who would be offering the Christian blessing. Over the phone and emails I found Reverend Tommy Dillion II to be warm and welcoming.

    As I drove to the Design Center building, I was surprised that I felt a bit anxious. What had I gotten myself into? Would the crowd care about my very brief blessings? Would they even hear me, or be so engaged in conversation that I would be like a Reno lounge singer who gets no attention?

    I took a breath. As luck would have it, I ran into my friend Jim outside the front door. It was comforting that he knew so many people and introduced me around. I loved the parade of glamorous drag queens and men dressed to the nines crowded together in the entry foyer. I didn’t know whether it would be an issue that I didn’t have a ticket, even though I was on the program. The drag queen running the ticket desk said something to me like, “Of course I’ll let you in, because you’re going to help me get into heaven!”

    I was tickled that Donna Sachet, past Empress and the evening’s Mistress of Ceremonies, asked to meet me. She was thrilled that for the first time at Coronation, blessings from more than one faith tradition would be offered.

    The coronation began with the Color Guard marching on stage in all their glory. They were followed by the national anthems of Mexico, Canada and the United States. Reverends Lyle Beckman and Dianna Wheeler from the Night Ministry, Tommy Dillan II from St. Aidans, and I took to the stage. I offered two blessings. The first one acknowledged that God has given us life, sustained us, and has enabled us to reach such a joyous, fantabulous, shining moment in time. The second blessing had three parts: asking God to bless and guard our sacred space, asking that God’s light shine upon us and fill us, and finally, asking that we may always be authentic so peace can shine through us.

    With my minute of blessing (and fame?!) over, the Reverends recited a prayer and sanctified the gathering with incense.

    I would like to say a very special thank you to the outgoing Triple X Golden Star Emperor, Drew Cutler, who invited me to participate at this special evening.

    With blessings of joy, peace and fantabulousness!

    Howard M. Steiermann is an Ordained Ritual Facilitator based in San Francisco. For more information, please visit