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A regal send-off for Mama José – Beloved Gay icon, pioneer, and legend is laid to rest in style

by Aleksa Manila – Special to the SGN On September 6, José Julio Sarria – Mama José as fondly referred to by her courtiers – was laid to rest next to her beloved, Joshua Norton, Emperor I of the United States and Protector of Mexico, at Woodlawn Cemetery in Colma, near San Francisco. Her tombstone is inscribed, United we stand; divided, they will catch us one by one. QUICK QUEERSTORY
Mama José was also known as Her Majesty Absolute Empress I of San Francisco and was the founder of the International Court System, one of the largest LGBTQ organizations spanning the United States, Canada, and Mexico. The Tavern Guild, one of the early homophile organizations she founded, wanted to name her Queen of San Francisco at the 1964 Beaux Arts Ball, but she proclaimed, Im already a queen! Thus she became the first Empress – José I, The Widow Norton – a reference to San Franciscos celebrated and colorful citizen, Joshua Norton, in the 1

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