The Imperial Court of New York is part of the national Imperial Court System, an LGBT social organization across North America that makes incredible fundraising efforts and maintains an intricate hierarchy of monarchs to preside over the court. We spoke to The Imperial Court of New York's Emperor XXVI Harrington and Stoli National LGBT Ambassador Sir Patrik Gallineaux about the organization and how the Imperial Court system serves our community.
OUT: Can you tell us a little bit about the Imperial Court of New York’s mission and what being crowned Emperor of this LGBT organization means to you?
Emperor Harrington XXVI: The Imperial Court of New York was founded in 1986 under the reign of Their Imperial Majesties Emperor I George and Empress I Sybil Bruncheon. We are now in our 31st Reign under the monarchy of His Most Imperial Sovereign Majesty Emperor XXVI Harrington and Her Imperial Majesty Empress XXIX and Regent Empress XXXI Madison Mansfield. Our membership includes Lords and Ladies, Dukes and Duchesses, Princes and Princesses — all enjoying the “game” of court and royalty while raising much needed social awareness and money for deserving charities in the tri-state area. The Court is a social fundraising organization which has raised millions of dollars for social service and health support organizations. In addition to our own fundraising, we often lend our support and talent to other organizations in their ventures by performing, volunteering or just adding beauty and style!
Our members are people who have chosen to make a commitment, get involved and make a difference in the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. Our membership is broad and varied: lawyers, carpenters, therapists, ministers, stockbrokers, hairdressers, marketers, performers, accountants, teachers, florists, antique dealers, jewelers and more!
Being crowned Emperor of this organization has allowed me to get involved with other non profit organizations, meeting new people, helping the LGBTQ Community and having a voice to many individuals who are reaching out for a hand or support. For one year I will travel with other members of our organization raising money and attending outreach programs in our community.
OUT: Considering the obstacles you overcame growing up gay in Costa Rica, what are your primary goals for improving the lives of LGBT youth around the world today?
EH: First of all, acceptance. It starts in the heart of the family, we need to teach our kids and others that understanding comes with the knowledge of why we are born or grew up this way, teach them to love and to come out and be able to live without any prejudice or feel afraid of what's out there. Let everyone know that we are humans, and it doesn't make us different from the others.
OUT: It has been a long journey for you to achieve this powerful position as the Emperor. What do you want other LGBT people to take away from your inspiring story?
EH: Never give up. I came to America 25 years ago with dreams. I never thought I will be part of such an amazing organization like The Imperial Court of New York. After 5 years of being a member, I decided to run for the position of Emperor XXVI. Thanks to the support, love and embrace from our membership, I got elected. I was also the first Latino Emperor in New York City to be elected in 31 years. Dreams do come true. My faith and devotion helped me get elected, and I've learned so much traveling around the country and meeting so many beautiful and amazing people that I will definitely tell anyone who is interested in running for Emperor to do it.
OUT: You recently knighted Patrik Gallineaux, the National LGBT Ambassador for Stoli Group USA. What does the honor of knighthood mean in this organization?
EH: Every year the Reigning Monarchs choose someone that they feel has done an outstanding job bringing awarness to LGBT community. These individuals represented in various fields, like entertainment, social, political and non profit agencies, and we like to recognize those individuals who go above and beyond. One way to do this is through our Knighthood.
OUT: And Patrik, as you are knighted by the Imperial Court for outstanding contributions to the LGBT community, of which accomplishment are you most proud?
Patrik Gallineaux: I am a connector and love recognizing people and organizations that may be geographically distant, yet have goals and capabilities that can be used to grow stronger together. I am grateful for the tools I have been given to bridge communities and work for a stronger and prouder global LGBT community. This is my greatest accomplishment always.
OUT: How has your time with Stoli helped you get to this achievement?
PG: Stoli has given me the most beautiful platform to be able to travel and build amazing relationships, such as with the Imperial Court of New York. It is so special to have lived in New York as a young 20-something very aware of the Court and wishing I could be a part of the glitter and glamour, and today to be knighted by that same court. I am blessed!
OUT: Stoli just kicked off the 5th Annual Stoli Key West Classic, in partnership with the Key West Business Guild. What are you most excited about as you look ahead to the Finale Week in Key West this June?
PG: The fact that this year everyone has to call me “Sir”!