Sarria portrait courtesy of Nate Gowdy at the Seattle Gay Times.
PHOTOS: Elegance and Honor, the State Funeral of José Sarria

By Christopher Harrity

Originally published on Advocate.com September 08 2013 4:00 AM ET

From a job as a waiter at the notorious Black Cat bar to a state funeral held at the prestigious Grace Cathedral at the top of Nob Hill in San Francisco, Sarria's life has been an inspiration to not only his Bay Area followers and fans, but the larger LGBT community that wanted to participate in government and public service.

José Julio Sarria's official title was Empress Jose I, the Widow Norton, and his memorial — A Celebration of Life for Jose Julio Sarria — was held on Friday, September 6, 2013 in San Francisco, Calif. Sarria, who was born in San Francisco in 1922, died at his home in Albuquerque on Aug. 19 at the age of 90.

Sarria founded the Imperial Court system  in San Francisco and the organization that focused on community service and celebration grew nationwide to include at least 70 other court systems.

SFGate.com reports that Sarria was buried in a grave next to the last resting place of Joshua Abraham Norton, better known at Norton I, Emperor of the United States and Protector of Mexico.

Gratitude goes to Bay Area photographer Liz Highleyman for her photos here. See more from this special day on her Facebook page.

For more images from this celebration go to the following pages >>>


Int the photo above: Mayor's Homeless Coordinator Bevan Dufty, Treasuer Jose Cisneros, Supervisor Scott Weiner Tom Horn former BAR publisher; Second row; Michael Yamashita, publisher Bay Area Reporter.


The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence


Mourners pay respects.


Empress XLI Galilea


Colleen Small


Mourners exit Grace Cathedral to join the cortege to Woodlawn Memoria; Park in Colma.


Mourners exit Grace Cathedral to join the cortege to Woodlawn Memoria; Park in Colma.


Mourners exit Grace Cathedral to join the cortege to Woodlawn Memoria; Park in Colma.


Mourners exit Grace Cathedral to join the cortege to Woodlawn Memoria; Park in Colma.


Nicole Murray Ramirez accepts the memorial flag.


Nicole Murray Ramirez, Queen Mother of the Americas


A arge crowd gathered at Woodlawnd Memorial Park in Colma.


Court system royalty stands guard at Woodlawnd Memorial Park in Colma.


Vigilant Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence set a tone of glamor and respect.


Front row mourners in the bright Bay Area sun.


A tearful moment before parting for the memorial reception at the Lookout.



The memorial reception was held at the Lookout at 16th St. and Market St. in the Castro.


The memorial reception at the Lookout.


The memorial reception at the Lookout.


The memorial reception at the Lookout.


The memorial reception at the Lookout.


Certainly, the best hair at the memorial reception at the Lookout.