Sarria Papers include biographical material, correspondence, photographs, ephemera, artifacts and costumes documenting his career
as an entertainer and activist in San Francisco over more than half a century.
Sarria was born December 12, 1923 at St. Francis Hospital in San Francisco. He was best known as a performer and a pioneer in the
gay rights movement, most notably as the first openly gay candidate in the United States to run for public office in 1961.
He was a founding member of the League for Civil Education (LCE), the Society for Individual Rights (SIR) and the Tavern Guild.
Crowned Queen of the Beaux Arts Ball in 1964 by the Tavern Guild,
Sarria proclaimed himself “Her Royal Majesty, Empress of San Francisco, José I, The Widow Norton” and soon thereafter established
the Imperial Court System, a network of non-profit charitable organizations throughout the United States, Canada and Mexico.
Sarria died of adrenal cancer on August 19, 2013, at his home in Los Ranchos de Albuquerque, New Mexico.
2 cartons, 130 boxes, (17 oversize boxes) (65 linear feet)
Copyright to unpublished manuscript materials that José Sarria was the owner of has been transferred to the Gay, Lesbian,
Bisexual, Transgender Historical Society.
Collection is open for research. Funding for processing this collection was provided by the Council on Library and Information