This morning at 7:02 AM a San Francisco legend and treasure… and my friend, Jose’ Sarria passed away quietly at his home. He was 90 years old. I felt like someone punched me in the solar-plexus when I got the news. Perhaps because I’ve been living with Jose’ in my mind these past couple years while working on Let No Stranger Wait Outside Your Door. Whenever I had a question or wanted to make sure my facts were straight, I’d call him if I knew he was having a good day. He was always there for me, like he was for everyone who lived in San Francisco for so many years. At the end of his life, Jose’ lived in a little cottage behind his friend Tony’s house in Albuquerque. When he began to get really sick Tony was always there for him. There aren’t enough different ways to say thank you to him for taking charge and loving a dying man like he did.
On the Sunday after January the 8th, 1880, when Emperor Norton I collapsed and died at the corner of California and Dupont (now Grant Ave.), as many as thirty thousand San Franciscans lined two miles of city streets as his funeral passed. A few years back, Jose’ bought the plot next to Norton’s and had a headstone put on it. It is my sincerest of hopes that by some miracle, the good citizens of San Francisco will once again line the streets, beat the drums and come to say goodbye to Jose’ Sarria. If you are gay, you owe it to him. He was the first one to stand up and fight for your rights.
God bless you, Jose’ and rest in peace.