When most people think of the Imperial Rainbow Court of Northern Utah (IRCONU), the first thought that comes to mind are drag queens. And although most of the members who perform for fundraisers are drag queens… the organization is much more than a bunch of drag queens or a constant drag show. The tradition of the Court Systems in the gay communities of America started in 1965 in San Francisco when Jose Sarria began the International Imperial Court System. All courts receive their charters from the International Court, and there are many chapters in cities across the United States and Canada.
In 1993 by proclamation of Emperor XVII, Jeff Freedman, of The Royal Court of the Golden Spike Empire, The Barony of Northern Utah was established. During the first year the Barony had approximately 20 members. Since then, membership has grown to over 70. In the year 2000, The International Court Council gave approval to the Barony of Northern Utah to change to a Court. On November 18, 2000 at Barony Ball 8 / Coronation 1, The First Emperor and Empress was crowned and The Barony of Northern Utah changed its name to The Imperial Rainbow Court of Northern Utah.
The Court System has spread far and wide. Emperors and Empresses can be found from San Diego to Anchorage, Honolulu to New York. The Court system remains an informal organization, so no exact membership can be tallied. However, over 65 cities have Emperors and Empresses elected yearly. In the same spirit and practice, the courts operate much like other organizations, such as the Masons and Elks. It is also similar to a theater group, providing a creative outlet to it’s members. Talented individuals have the opportunity to design elaborate costumes, sets and musical numbers and then have a place to present them. A lot of networking and traveling takes place throughout the system, not only locally but from one city to another.
The primary goals of the elected officials are to further relationships with organizations and businesses within our community, to hold functions and fundraisers for the enjoyment of the community, to raise money for charitable organizations, and to help those in the community who are in need of assistance. Each different elected Monarch sets his/her own standard and selects causes that he/she feels are important. The Courts are an effective fundraiser in the community at large. No one associated with the Courts personally receives monetary gain from the money raised at court functions. The money goes directly back into the community.