History of The Imperial Court of Washington, DC
The Imperial Court of Washington, DC, founded in 2010 and officially recognized in 2011, is proud to be the newest court in the International Imperial Court System, making ICWDC the 69th Court in the ICS's 46th year. We strive to uphold the good deeds of our founder and pledge our allegiance to our State Head, Her Imperial Majesty, Empress Nicole the Great, Queen Mother of the Americas.
History of The International Court System
The Court System began in San Francisco in 1965, which has been known for its outrageous personalities and colorful figures since it has been in existence; Jose Sarria, a legend in San Francisco, was the first openly gay political candidate, when he ran for city supervisor in 1961. At the same time he was doing this, a group of gay bar owners were organizing the “Tavern Guild.” This organization was designed to provide support in coping with an anti-gay political machine operating in San Francisco at that time.
Crowned Queen of the Beaux Arts Ball in 1964 by the Tavern Guild, Sarria, stating that he was "already a queen," proclaimed himself "Her Royal Majesty, Empress of San Francisco, José I, The Widow Norton." Sarria devised the name "Widow Norton" as a reference to the much-celebrated citizen of 19th century San Francisco, Joshua Norton, who had declared himself Emperor of the United States and Protector of Mexico in 1859.
Though Norton was considered insane, or at least highly eccentric, the citizens of San Francisco celebrated his regal presence and his proclamations, most famously, his "order" that the United States Congress be dissolved by force (which Congress and the U.S. Army ignored), that the Republican and Democratic parties should be banned for misleading the country, and his numerous decrees calling for a bridge and a tunnel to be built across San Francisco Bay (which both happened long after his death in the form of the San Francisco – Oakland Bay Bridge and the Transbay Tube). Norton's legacy has been immortalized in the literature of writers Mark Twain, Robert Louis Stevenson, Christopher Moore, and Neil Gaiman who based characters on him
Sarria organized elaborate annual pilgrimages to lay flowers on Norton's grave in the Woodlawn Cemetery in Colma, California. He purchased a plot adjacent to Norton's and plans to be interred there. Sarria's assumption of the title of Empress led to the establishment of the International Court System, a network of non-profit charitable organizations throughout the United States, Canada, and Mexico that raise money for various beneficiaries. Sarria is much revered within the hierarchy of the International Court System and is affectionately and informally known as "Mama" or "Mama José" among Imperial Court members. The "José Honors Awards" are presented to Imperial Court dignitaries and others in a bi-annual banquet held in Sarria's honor.
For additional information, please visit the International Court System web site.