The International Court System (ICS) consists of almost 70 chapters or Courts in the US, Canada and Mexico. The individual Courts are both social and community service organizations bound together in shared structure, policies and goals. Even though each court is part of the International Court System they are governed in accordance with national, state and local charitable organization requirements.
The Court System was founded in San Francisco when a group of gay bar owners formed a Tavern Guild in early 1965 as a means to stand in solidarity with one another under the pressure of police harassment. The Guild put on the first large public drag ball in San Francisco’s history called the Beaux Arts Ball. In its third year Jose Julio Sarria, a World War II veteran and the first openly gay candidate to run for public office in North America, in 1961, was declared the Queen of the Ball, and then declared himself Empress. With that, the Imperial Court System was born.
When the Court System originated in San Francisco, California, in 1965, it was intended mainly for “camp” fun. From that beginning we derived our camp titles: Emperor & Empress, Prince & Princess, and so forth–as well as each court’s annual gala function, Coronation. Jose’s unique combinations of talent, influence and vision guided the start of what is now an international organization.
To learn more about ICS please click on the link below
Jose Julio Sarria
Absolute Empress I
December 12, 1922 – August 19, 2013
Openly gay candidate for the City and County of San Francisco – 1961
World War II Veteran