Wednesday, 14 August 2013

The Drag Circuit & the Imperial Court System ...

One of the things that made a big impression on me during my stay in San Francisco was meeting some of the area's drag queens and seeing how much money they raise for charity and how hard they work in their communities.

I had no idea that there is an Imperial court system in place for American, Mexican & Canadian drag queens, and was extremely impressed at how organised the structure is, and how much of a support the system is to those inside and outside it.  They support a number of charitable organisations and - in addition to their fundraising shows and events, they donate of their own time, talents and possessions to support their communities and those in need.

As I reflected in one of my earlier posts, to illustrate the power of embracing this community and their community ethic, during my stay in San Francisco, I learned of St. Aidan's, an inclusive Episcopalian congregation in San Francisco that welcomes the local drag community into their midst and the drag community is encouraged to fund raise on their premises. The congregation of St. Aidan's has also raised funds for the drag queen's chosen charities. As a result of this mutually beneficial and generous relationship, the drag queens in turn largely funded the parish's food pantry for an entire year.  To me, this is an example of the potential power that true inclusion holds to work for good in our communities.

I was trying to find the right words to explain a little bit more about the Imperial Court system, but decided that, rather than offer misleading information, it would be best summarised by simply quoting a leaflet I was handed at the coronation ceremony for the Alameda Ducal Court I had the privilege of attending before I left San Francisco:
About Latinos and the Imperial Courts
The International Imperial Court System of the United States, Canada and Mexico was established in 1965 by a Latino, Jose Julio Sarria.  There are Imperial Court chapters in over 68 cities within the United States, Canada and Mexico.  Jose, who is now 91 years old and retired, appointed Nicole M. Ramirez, a well-known gay Latino activist, as his successor in 2007. 
The Imperial Courts welcome everyone as members; gays, lesbians, transgender, bisexuals, heterosexuals, friends and family.  The Imperial Courts membership is based on a Royal Court, with Dukes, Duchesses, Prince, Princess, etc., and is headed by an elected Emperor and Empress.  Imperial Court memberships are all volunteer ... no one gets paid.  The Imperial Courts hold events in the LGBT Communities and raise funds for charities and many causes, including children's charity concerns and student scholarships.
For more information, visit 

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