Jose Julio Sarria, a San Francisco LGBT activist who made history as the first openly gay man to seek political office, passed away yesterday at the age of 90.
Sarria, a World War II veteran who rose to fame in San Francisco’s drag scene in the 1950s and 1960s, ran for San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1961 and placed ninth in a field of 30 candidates. He later founded the Imperial Court System, which has since grown into the second largest LGBT charity organization in the world.
“Today’s out elected officials owe much to trailblazers like Jose Sarria, who braved discrimination and persecution in order to live an authentic life,” said Chuck Wolfe, President and CEO of the Victory Fund. “As the first openly LGBT person to seek elected office, he paved the way for a generation of leaders who have made a huge impact on our country.”