Vale US drag queen activist Jose Julia Sarria
Jose Julia Sarria, the founder of the first US gay rights association, has died at his home in New Mexico. Sarria was aged 91.
A World War II veteran with a penchant for drag, Sarria became an institution in the San Fransciso scene in the 1960s before anointing himself "Empress José I, The Widow Norton," and launching the first chapter of the International Court System of the United States, a longstanding LGBT philanthropic association which now has branches all across the US.
Sarria was also responsible for forming the League for Civil Education, and in 1961 announced his candidacy for San Francisco's Board of Supervisors, making him the first openly gay man to seek public office.
John A. Pérez, speaker of the California Assembly, commented on the enormous influence Sarria had in the movement towards equal rights for LGBTI people.
"José Sarria was a monumental figure in the LGBT community whose contributions to our movement cannot be overstated," said Pérez in a statement. "His trailblazing run for public office as an openly gay man laid the groundwork for LGBT Californians to run for public office proudly and openly. But José's refusal to be silenced or shamed back into the closet — in an era where LGBT people were routinely discriminated against — was the greatest contribution to our movement.”