About Us

What is the Court?
The court is a social and community service organization. The court system was founded in San Francisco when Jose’ Sarria and a group of gay bar owners formed a Tavern Guild in early 1965 as a means to stand in solidarity with one another under the pressure of police harassment. The Guild put on the first large public drag ball in San Francisco’s history called the Beaux Arts Ball. In its third year Jose Sarina was declared the Queen of the Ball and with that the Imperial Court System was born. Jose’s unique combinations of talent, influence and vision guided the start of what would one day be an international organization. From that “camp” beginning we derived our titles: Emperor, Empress, Prince and Princess, as well as our yearly gala function Coronation.

In 1974 a small group of people in Eugene, Oregon gathered to discuss forming a community based organization after the model in San Francisco and Portland, Oregon. In that meeting Sharon and Cherrisse were elected our first Emperor and Empress I of the Imperial Court of the Emerald Empire. It should be noted that Sharon was the first woman Emperor in the Imperial Court System and we should be proud of that ground breaking step against sexism in the LGBT community. In 1985 the name of the organization was changed to the Imperial Sovereign Court of the Emerald Empire (ISCEE)

Today most of the major cities in the western United States have a court system in their community. In Oregon we have three courts: Portland, Salem and in Eugene. We are all independent chapters of an international organization. As representatives of our court, our primary goals are to further relationships with businesses and organizations within our local community, to hold functions and fund raisers for the enjoyment of the community, and to help those in the community who are in needs of assistance. Each year our organization contributes thousands of dollars to local community services.

Our members assist other courts throughout the United States and Canada with fund raising by attending and performing at their Coronations and other events.

Throughout the years the court system has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars collectively to channel back into charitable and social causes. We are at the forefront of raising and donating money to the fight against AIDS and assist those persons living with AIDS.

You are probably wondering “Why aren’t they better known?” In our early years few people were truly out of the closet and discretion was a reality of life. As times have changed and attitudes progressed we now realize that it is necessary to publicize our positive contributions so the community, the whole community, is made aware of the history, actions and credibility of our organization. Perhaps the best aspect of our organization is that it is open to everyone!

There is absolutely no discrimination. Our members represent every aspect of society, both gay and straight. A person’s gender, lifestyle, or mode of dress has no bearing whatsoever on acceptance into our group.