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Many surprises at the 45th International Imperial Court coronation

Councilman Chris Ward, Queen Mother Nicole, State Assemblymen Todd Gloria, Emperor Mikie, State Senator Toni Atkins and County Sheriff Bill Gore.

San Diego was host to royalty on Saturday as members of the oldest LGBT organization, the International Imperial Court held its 45th coronation at the Handlery Hotel in Mission Valley, and there were plenty of surprises.

The event drew many dignitaries including Senator Christine Kehoe, State Assemblyman Todd Gloria, and County Sheriff Bill Gore.

San Diego Councilman Chris Ward was also in attendance; he presented a state and city proclamation honoring the Imperial Court.  

In a historic first, the general council of Mexico also honored the San Diego Imperial Court including other visiting courts, for their more than 30-year commitment to raising funds for the Tijuana AIDS Project.

On Friday, visiting members raised $8,000 for the project in just three hours.

Another exciting milestone on Saturday was the announcement of the new American civil rights arm of the International Imperial Court system, called the “National GLBT Network USA.”  

The new network was founded on the same day as the woman’s march because so many courtmembers throughout the United States took part in that rally. 

In a rare event, Queen Mother Nicole gave a special performance and raised over $2,500 in tips to donate to the the civil rights arm of the court,  

She told San Diego Gay and Lesbian News, “I’ve always said that a community and a movement that doesn’t know where it came from, doesn’t know where it’s going," .

The system has had a long history in activism over civil rights starting in 1961 when it’s founder Jose, a World War II veteran became the first openly gay man to run for public office. The courts also helped in the fight against Anita Bryant, Senator John Briggs and homophobic referendums in Colorado and Oregon.

Another special guest was Stonewall veteran Fredd E. Tree. Tree was at the Stonewall riots in 1969 and still bartends at the Stonewall Inn. He is also the reigning Emperor of New York. The Imperial Court system established an award in his honor called The Fredd E. Tree Spirit of Stonewall Award.

They went to three San Diego new generation leaders Sarafina Scapicchio, Fernando López of San Diego Pride, and Benny Cartwright of the San Diego LGBT Community Center. Outgoing Emperor 24, Summer Lee, who was the third elected San Diego Monarch, and Empress Jaeda Reign presided over the coronation.

Three outstanding San Diego students were awarded the The Harvey Milk Student Scholarship which began in 1979 and is one of the oldest programs of its kind.

Hillcrest was filled with revelry as many activities celebrated the 45th coronation throughout the weekend.

Emperor 45 Jay, and Empress 45 Angel were crowned the new emperor and empress of San Diego at the end of the evening.

SDGLN asked the reigning Queen Mother Nicole how she felt about this milestone:

“This was a historic event celebrating San Diego’s oldest GLBT organization," she said. "For me the most important thing to come out of this weekend was the sixty-eight chapters joining together to form the New Civil Rights Arm of the Imperial Court System the National GLBT Network because it’s time for everyone to come out of the closet into the streets and into the voting booths.”