H84.383.20

c. 1950's
Gift of Jose Sarria
H84.383.20


Headdress. Description: felt, turquoise and green, in the shape of a bird; worn by Jose Sarria in performances emphasizing gay pride, at the Black Cat, in San Francisco, ca. 1950's. From the History Information Station Object: Costume and flyer for the Opera Aida presented by the Opera Comique de Jose at the Black Cat Cafe in 1955. History: Jose Sarria presented Sunday operas performed in drag at the Black Cat that became a rallying point for many gay men and women in San Francisco. Because of his popular operas, Jose became known as the "Nightingale of Montgomery Street." One patron recalls the spirit of unity and pride that patrons felt when Jose performed on his impromptu stage of bar tables. "He was the biggest draw in the City for gay people...he would do his consciousness raising numbers the way Jose knew how to do best and at the end of each performance he would make us all stand up, embrace each other, and sing `God bless the Nellie Queens if we don't stick together they'll hang us one by one'." In 1961, Jose took his gay rights message one step further and ran for city supervisor. He wanted to prove that "a gay person could and had the right to run for public office." Gift of Jose Sarria

Used: Jose Sarria ~ gay pride performance | Gay rights

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