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Jose Sarria

September 22, 2023

Celebrate José Sarria Who Paved Way for Gay Candidates in U.S.

Ask students: Who was José Sarria? What led him to become a drag performer and political activist? Why did he join the military during World War II?


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This Hispanic Heritage Month, we return to our “Hidden Histories” series with a look at the legacy of José Sarria, a Latino American political activist and drag performer who left his mark on U.S. history by paving the way for gay candidates.

For a transcript of this story, click here.

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Discussion Questions

  • Who was José Sarria?
  • What led Sarria to become a drag performer and political activist?
  • Why did Sarria join the military during World War II?
  • When was Sarria born?
  • How did Sarria continue to advocate for LGBTQ+ rights and charitable causes later in his life?

Focus Questions

How did José Sarria's historic campaign for the San Francisco City Board of Supervisors impact the LGBTQ+ community?

Media Literacy: How can the news bring more attention to marginalized communities?

Extension Activity

Discuss with a friend, neighbor or classmate — what were some of the challenges José Sarria faced during his lifetime? How might Sarria's sense of humor have helped him? Have you ever used humor to make light of serious situations so that they might be a little less painful?

Hispanic Heritage Month Lesson Plans and Activities

Celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month with these free activities, lesson plans and resources highlighting the contributions of the Hispanic world to history, music, art, literature and more.

Republished with permission from PBS NewsHour Classroom.

PBS NewsHour Classroom

PBS NewsHour Classroom helps teachers and students identify the who, what, where and why-it-matters of the major national and international news stories.

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