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Queen Mother Nicole's Journal Entry I - Jose's State Funeral - San Francisco, CA

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August 17, 2013 - Jose’s State Funeral San Francisco:


With this writing I’ve decided to start a journal of my visits as your “Queen Mother of the Americas” beginning with the “State Funeral” of our beloved founder Jose Julio Sarria, then my state visits to the Coronations of Washington, D.C., San Francisco Ducal 40th Anniversary, Cincinnati, Toronto, Portland and Los Angeles.

Though it has been over a week since the State Funeral of Jose I am finally able to sit down and write this, the beginning of my new journal to all of you my fellow members of our wonderful International Court System.  The viewing and funeral were two days in San Francisco mixed with so many emotions, sadness, pride, laughter, tears, smiles, difficulties, differences and LOVE.


Jose and I, especially this last year, spoke many times of our funerals and wondered what they would be like… who would come… what would be said…. what she would wear at mine and what I would wear at hers! Let me say that Jose’s memorial was one of the most beautiful and glorious funerals that I’ve ever attended in my entire life.


I woke up early Thursday morning to catch an early flight…Empress Lala was on my plane from San Diego. When I arrived at the San Francisco’s airport we were greeted by I.C.C. President Emperor Rob Surreal and Empress Julie and Emperor Michael of Arizona. We checked into the wonderful Hotel Mark Twain…I love this cozy hotel and have stayed there numerous times. A very big thank you to its general manager Mark Dean aka “Deena Jones Cartier” and her outstanding staff…also to Kevin Thomas. The young crew from Portugal was also staying at the Hotel Mark Twain in town for the “America’s Cup”…my room’s window looked right into their two rooms but that’s another story!!!


That Afternoon we went to the funeral home where Jose was in state for public viewing from 1-9pm, a steady stream of people from all walk of life stopped by….. Marlena had put up a historic display about Jose in the funeral home’s front room, it was just wonderful and brought back so many memories and as importantly educated people about Mama. To be honest I don’t like wakes as I want to remember loved ones as they looked but everyone was so right, Galilea made Jose look like she peacefully sleeping….Jose looked handsome in his suit. Thank you Galilea- you are a true artist and we know that for you it was a work of love. I was so happy I did go to the public viewing and thank you Donna Sachetfor taking me. By the way the booklet that was handed out “The Amazing Life of Jose Sarria” was one we will all cherish especially the biography written by Remy. Ron Ross was his usual outgoing self….it was good to see so many of Jose’s longtime friends. Then it was off to the historic 1874 Old Mint for an event celebrating LGBT History in San Francisco entitled “Out of the Past”… boy does that building have hundreds of steps to climb to reach the entrance!!! Among the special guest speaker were Stuart Milk, City Treasurer Jose Cisneros, Donna Sachet and Veteran Zoe Dunning. Then it was off to dinner with businessman Rick Ford and Coco LaChine. Mr. Ford lived in San Francisco during the time of the Black Cat and actually volunteered and registered voters for Jose’s campaign in 1961. In between all of these events I took time for some meetings with political and gay leaders in San Francisco and did a few radio and other requested media interviews. I was touched that Rev. Troy Perry called and offered his condolences to me and all of us court members. He even sent out a special message about Jose to all of the hundreds of M.C.C. Churches around the world….Cleave Jones (founder of the Names AIDS Quilt and historic advisor to the movie MILK) also called.


Before I went to sleep for the long day ahead, I re-read Lou Kief’s article in the San Francisco Chronicle posted on August 20th entitled “Into the Streets San Franciscans!”…please everyone must read this outstanding piece…pure brilliance as one of the best articles ever written about Jose.


Friday morning came and Ashley of Tacoma was kind enough to come over and paint my old fat face…..yes lots of cement for this job. Then the documentary film directors arrived at my room for a lengthy interview….after all those bright lights I needed more cement on my face and then off to the Cathedral in a stretch limo provided by Rob Surreal and riding together were Stuart Milk, Rick Ford, Dr. Rosie, Coco LaChine, handsome young veteran Nick, San Francisco Law Student Joseph Rocha, Rob and off we went.


Grace Cathedral is indeed a San Francisco landmark and it truly takes your breath away. Before I went in Carl Nolte of the San Francisco Chronicle asked for an interview to talk about Jose. Once inside I was seated with the public officials….on one side of me was former San Francisco Mayor Art Agnos who I had not seen in a long time and on the other Senator Mark Leno who himself is a future Mayor or Congressman….he is my favorite Senator in all of California!!! Also seated with us was my son former Supervisor Bevan Dufty who helped us get the city street named in Jose’s honor. Before the service began, we all talked about our memories and Mayor Agnos told me he wished he was contacted as he would have gotten the city’s flags lowered half-staff. The media has hailed Jose’s funeral as everything from a “funeral fit for a true monarch” to “a real state funeral” and indeed it was…..just magnificent! The service itself was like it was being held in Westminster Abbey in England and it was just as regal as Queen Victoria’s!


His Excellency, the Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of California, the right Rev. Mark Handleypresided and the first speaker was Panzi of New York…there are no words to describe her remarks because they touched all of our hearts and souls….Jose lived once again for us all through Panzi’s words. Senator Leno also spoke and he let the world know that because of Jose, San Francisco politics were never the same….a brilliant speech. ( Thank you Senator for introducing me as the “Mayor of Hillcrest”) former Lt. Governor candidate Jim Mangia is a true orator told the story of the “Rosa Parks of the Gay Rights Movement”…..Joe Castel touched on the love of Jose’s life…herJimmy….there was not a dry eye anywhere. Oh Michelle!!!!! Memories you brought back of your old friend from the 1950’s and 1960’s. Soloist Ms. Jennifer Paulino’s voice was like an angel from heaven…God Bless Grace Cathedral, its clergy, San Francisco Night Ministry, Galilea, Panzi, Mark, Jim, Joe, Fontana, Michelle, Jennifer, Anthony, Halsted, Grey Caren and English Funeral Home, the Imperial Family of San Francisco and its Board of Directors, Tom Horn, and everyone involved in this unbelievable send off for our Jose. As Stuart Milk walked me out of the Cathedral along with the Heirs and I.C.C. Council members, I believe there was no one that did not believe that this service touched the grace and glory of Jose who now sits with our Lord among our friends and family in the Heavens above. I took time to thank the Bishop on behalf of the International Court System and then jumped into the limo. Now it was on to Colma and Woodlawn Memorial Parkand let me tell you that the long funeral cortege was escorted by over two dozen San Francisco PoliceMotorcycle officers in full uniform… I am sure Jose was smiling down at these policemen whose department, over 60 years ago, were beating up gays almost every weekend! On the way to Colma our limo broke down on the freeway (Jose’s last joke on me). Thank Goodness San Francisco Grand Duchess Paloma’s limo was right behind and had room for all of us…Paloma, thank you so much for your kindness.


The last service at the cemetery was lovely and at times touching and Donna and Henry did a great job….as I stood there many final thoughts went through my mind and when I was brought forth to pay my final respects I touched her casket and bowed my head and vowed to her that I would do my best to make her proud as her heir….and from that moment on in difficult times I will continue to ask myself “what would Mama Jose do???”……..I vowed to continue to fight for her legacy and to try to be a peacemaker and not a divider and continue to lead her beloved Court System into the 21st Century.  I cannot do this alone and in the spirit of my mentor, friend and mother/father, Jose Julio Sarria, I know at times I will falter….but I will do my best.


I ask you all to join me in this journey ahead and I from the bottom of my heart extend my hand to all in friendship and yes unity and ask you not to walk behind me… nor in front of me but beside me….

…and together we will all do our beloved Jose proud….


God Bless you all.

By my hand, Nicole Murray Ramirez

Queen Mother I of the Americas

Journal entry #1


-          Next journal posting: #2 Washington D.C’s Coronation



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