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    Honoring Our Mother and Founding Court

    honoringBy Nicole Murray Ramirez, Queen Mother I of the Americas

    San Francisco is the birthplace of the Gay Games, AIDS Name Project Quilt, Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, Harvey Milk’s gay activism and election and, yes, the birthplace of the International Court System of Canada, United States and Mexico. From a seed planted in San Francisco by José Julio Sarria in 1965, and cultivated by the Imperial Council of San Francisco, that seed grew into a Royal Oak Tree with branches now stretching out over three nations with chapters in over 68 cities.

    Now, fifty years later, we all are coming home to San Francisco to celebrate with, and to honor, our mother and founding court of the International Court System: the Imperial Court of San Francisco. We will make our annual royal pilgrimage to Colma, to the final resting place of our beloved founder Empress I José, the Widow Norton, and her Royal husband Emperor Joshua Norton, two San Francisco legends. We deeply wish to thank the Emperors of San Francisco and the chair of this annual pilgrimage, Empress Donna Sachet, for continuing this most important tradition.

    On a personal note, I like many other GLBT individuals from all over the world, have visited and stayed in San Francisco often in the 1960’s and 70’s. We always felt free to be ourselves.

    honoring3In San Francisco, I met José, Harvey Milk, Cleve Jones, Marcus Hernandez, Bob Cramer, Bob Ross, Sylvester, Willie Brown, Wayne Friday, Bevan Dufty, H.L. Perry, Mark Leno, Donna, Coretta Scott King and so many others that will always bring me everlasting memories. Such memories as when the Council of Emperors proclaimed me a member of the Royal Family of San Francisco (Sister to the Council of Emperors), to Mayor Brown proclaiming a “Nicole Murray Ramirez Day” to leading with Supervisor Dufty and the International Court Council the successful campaign to get a street named after our founder: “José Sarria Court” in the Castro. I owe much to so many in this most majestic city.

    This year marks the 20th Anniversary of when José named me her heir and successor during a ceremony in San Francisco. I will return to San Francisco on the historic weekend as the “Queen Mother of the Americas,” but I will come as a most grateful, humbled, and simple gay man who—without San Francisco’s GLBT Community, José or the Imperial Courts—would not have accomplished anything that I have as an activist these last decades. For like so many before me, I long ago left part of my heart in San Francisco.

    Nicole Murray Ramirez is Queen Mother I of the Americas and Heir to Empress I José. Ramirez is also a San Diego Commissioner.