The Imperial Sovereign Rose Court of Oregon
The Imperial Sovereign Rose Court Oregon, also known as The Imperial Sovereign Rose Court of the Inland Empire, The Rose Court or the ISRC is one of the original chapters of the Imperial Court System,. It is based out of Portland, Oregon  and was founded in 1958. The Rose Court is the oldest gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender organization in Oregon It has taken many different forms over the years. In October 2008, the organization celebrated its 50th Anniversary at the Annual Coronation of Rose Empress L (50) Krystal Lynn Benoit and Rose Emperor XXXV (35) JL Thompson at the Kridel Grand Ballroom at the Portland Art Museum. The reigning Monarchs of the Imperial Sovereign Rose Court of Oregon for the calendar year October 2015 to October 2016 is His Most Imperial Majesty, Rose Emperor XL Richard Rochelle and Her Most Imperial Majesty, Rose Empress LVII Vivica Valentine
The Imperial Sovereign Rose Court of Oregon's "Imperial Family" annually consists of the Rose Emperor and Rose Empress; the Imperial Prince Royale and Imperial Princess Royale; Mr. Ms. and Miss Gay Oregon; Mr. Ms. and Miss Gay Portland, and the White Knight and Debutante. The Organization is governed by a Board of Directors, consisting of Associate Members, Rose Monarchs and the reigning Rose Emperor and Rose Empress. The Organization has four separate classes of membership: General Members, Associate Sustaining Members, Sustaining Members and the Advisory Council. The Advisory Council membership class is unique because it is an exclusive class for those who have served as a Rose Monarch. The Advisory Council is also the only membership class which has sub-classes. The two separate yet equal sub-classes are the Advisory Council of Emperors (ACE) and the Imperial Council of Empresses (ICE) which include the reigning Rose Emperor and Rose Empress as members of this class.
The ISRC: A Community and Court Rich with History and Tradition
In 1958, Samuel Campbell issuing a royal decree formed an empire: the Court of Transylvania by proclaiming himself "Queen Eugenie I", becoming the Court’s First Monarch recognized seated on an erected throne in the back of the Half Moon Tavern (located front right of the Morrison Bridge at 72 SW Morrison Street in downtown Portland, Oregon). Why the name “The Court of Transylvania” was chosen…no pioneer remembers. Nevertheless, the Court of Transylvania would mark the genesis of a great empire yet to become known…but one, which has filled the historical archives, by its successes. The following year, he retained his title, and as was her privilege Queen Eugenie I continued granting royal titles of peerage all based on European nobility styled with Royalty and Camp to her courtiers. However it was short lived as the winds of time were unkind and the courtiers with them disbanded. Not again until 1965, with the birth of the Pruitts of Portland did the community find itself forming “the Court” born anew, and the future once again took hold. Between 1965 and 1969, the Pruitts of Portland brought great entertainment witnessed by tremendous gathering audiences at semi-annually ceremonial "Spring" and "Fall" Balls. At these early balls, brought forth a “Rose Queen” chosen and crowned in the mode of "Queen of the Ball" or “Queen for a Day” manner. The Rose Queens were the cultural founders and forerunners of the ISRC at a time when proclaiming oneself gay or lesbian was fraught with danger.
A female impersonator by the name of Rose was crowned at the 1965 Spring Ball "Road to Ruin", and later recognized as Rose Queen III since she proclaimed to be Rose Queen I and II prior to 1965. In 1969, the Portland Forum, Oregon’s oldest charted gay organization, took over the sponsorship of the balls. With the occurrence of the 1970 Fall Ball the Portland Forum changed the title of "Rose Queen" to “Rose Empress”. The change of title to "Empress" was congruent with the title being given to the heads of similar organizations, or “Courts”, springing up in other cities. These earliest Courts had begun to form the foundation of an association, the Imperial Court System, which would later become known as the International Court System.
In October 1971, the title of Rose Empress became a constitutional position elected by the public on an annual basis each autumn. In October 1974 by proclamation the title of Rose Emperor was created and in October 1975, the first Rose Emperor was elected alongside the Rose Empress. By the late 1970s, the ISRC experienced significant organization growth. Its events were many of the most successful in the GLBT community.
The fundraising and outreach activities grew exponentially. The Rose Emperor and Rose Empress as the elected dignitaries were expected to travel to and attend events sponsored by Courts from other cities. As the ISRC grew and developed the "Imperial Family" of titles were created to assist the Rose Emperor and Rose Empress in the leadership and work of the ISRC. In 1981, the ISRC elected its first Board of Directors. The Board assumed financial and administrative responsibilities for the ISRC. This action allowed the Rose Emperor, Rose Empress, and Imperial Family of titleholders to focus on being Ambassadors of Portland, Fundraising, and Community Outreach activities.
The Imperial Sovereign Rose Court of Oregon is Oregon’s oldest Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender (GLBT) organization. Membership is open to all persons over the age of 21 who live within the Washington, Multnomah, Clackamas or Columbia Counties. The ISRC does not discriminate based on race, religion, gender, sexual orientation or any other description used to categorize people.
Mission: The ISRC is organized for charitable, educational, literary or scientific purposes. The ISRC is established to create recreational, charitable, and cultural activities to promote greater understanding between members of a diverse community, and to represent that community and concerned individuals in support of community functions. The ISRC recognizes outstanding individuals and organizations for their service to the community and supports 501(c)3 organizations through its contributions.
In over 50 years, the ISRC has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for various 501(c)3 charities.
- "Home". www.rosecourt.org. Retrieved 2015-10-26.
- "International Court System - Home". impcourt.org. 2013-11-15. Retrieved 2013-12-02.
- Gorman, Michael R. (1998). The Empress is a Man: Stories From the Life of José Sarria. New York, Harrington Park Press: an imprint of Haworth Press. ISBN 0-7890-0259-0 (paperback edition)
- "Interesting Facts about LGBTQ History". www.glapn.org. Retrieved 2015-10-26.
- "Home". www.rosecourt.org. Retrieved 2015-10-26.
- "Board of Directors". www.rosecourt.org. Retrieved 2015-10-26.
- The Imperial Sovereign Rose Court of Oregon, Bylaws and Operations Manual 2013 edition, Article III - Membership
- The Imperial Sovereign Rose Court of Oregon, Bylaws and Operations Manual 2013 edition, Article III - Membership, Section 3.
- The Imperial Sovereign Rose Court of Oregon, Bylaws and Operations Manual 2013 edition, Article III - Membership, Section3, C