José Julio Sarria: December 22, 1922 – August 19, 2013

One of America’s gay rights pioneering leaders, José Julio Sarria, passed away quietly in his home in New Mexico this morning. He was 91.

Mr. Sarria was a proud World War II veteran and the very first openly gay candidate to run for public office in North America. He was a candidate for the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1961. Mr. Sarria’s candidacy was the start of true gay political power and gave voice to gay people who were tired of being treated like second class citizens. San Diego City Commissioner Nicole Murray Ramirez, a close friend of Mr. Sarria’s and a long time Latino Gay Activist stated “José Julio Sarria was indeed the Rosa Parks of the gay rights movement as an activist in the 1950s and 1960s.”

Mr. Sarria was born in San Francisco, California on December 22, 1922 as the only child of Maria Delores Maldonado of Colombia and Julio Sarria of San Francisco. Upon his graduation from Commerce High School in San Francisco he immediately enlisted in the US Army during World War II, rising to the rank of Staff Sergeant prior to his discharge in 1945.

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