Here Comes Mister Marcus

After far too many moons since a Visions and Voices update, we are back with some exciting news; the GLBT Historical Society has a new website! So go ahead and explore the sections, click on links, and see what amazing virtual nuggets of LGBT history await you.

Marcus and Matthew of Glendale, 1973; Carton 21, Marcus Hernandez (Mister Marcus) collection (#2011-03). Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Historical Society
Marcus and Matthew of Glendale, 1973; Carton 21, Marcus Hernandez (Mister Marcus) collection (#2011-03). Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Historical Society

In other exciting news, Visons and Voices is proud to announce the Marcus Hernandez (Mister Marcus) collection (#2011-03), now fully processed and available to researchers in the GLBT Historical Society Archives. Coming in at just over 43 linear feet, this is one of the archives’ larger collections and includes an array of Mister Marcus’ personal and professional materials: photographs, memorabilia, correspondence, awards, press packets, clothing, and more, highlighting Marcus’ deep and dedicated involvement within the leather community, the Imperial Court System, and his well-known weekly column in the Bay Area Reporter, which he wrote for over 38 years from 1971-2009. Additionally, Marcus contributed articles and photographs to Drummer Magazine, The Leather Journal, and many other publications, in addition to being a frequent judge at Mr. Leather, Mr. Drummer, and International Mr. Leather contests (among others).

Marcus and Sarria, ca. 1976; Carton 21, Marcus Hernandez (Mister Marcus) collection (#2011-03). Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Historical Society
Marcus and Sarria, ca. 1976; Carton 21, Marcus Hernandez (Mister Marcus) collection (#2011-03). Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Historical Society

Beside his expansive work within the leather community, Hernandez was actively part of the Imperial Court of San Francisco, one of the largest and oldest LGBT organizations in the world. In 1972, Hernandez became the first Emperor of the Imperial Court, or Emperor I After Norton. During his reign, he established the Spoon Awards which were presented to individuals in 20 different categories for continuously “stirring the pot”. He continued his involvement with the Imperial Court throughout his life, judging contests for many years.

Box 1, Marcus Hernandez (Mister Marcus) collection (#2011-03). Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Historical Society
Emperor Marcus; Box 1, Marcus Hernandez (Mister Marcus) collection (#2011-03). Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Historical Society

His collection, which was donated to the GLBT Historical Society in 2010, is just over 43 linear feet and documents his life from the years 1933 to 2009. The materials have been arranged into “photographic and AV materials”, which make up the bulk of the collection, and “non-photographic and AV materials”. Included are: photographic prints, negatives, slides, floppy discs/compact discs, and VHS; memorabilia such as awards, contest programs, buttons, and books; personal papers including correspondence, ephemera and keepsakes, notebooks and schedules, and creative writing; professional papers, such as Bay Area Reporter columns and newspaper clippings authored by Mister Marcus; and textiles and apparel which include hats, watches, leather vests, and other related personal artifacts. A few of the collection’s photographs even document his childhood in the 1930s through his time serving in the US military in the early 1950s and up into his early years living in San Francisco in the 1970s. These early photographs help reveal the more personal side of Marcus’ history, something that is less evident in his professional work.

Marcus ca. 1934; Box 1, Marcus Hernandez (Mister Marcus) collection (#2011-03). Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Historical Society
Marcus ca. 1934; Box 1, Marcus Hernandez (Mister Marcus) collection (#2011-03). Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Historical Society
"To Mother, With love always, Gily" from Lenggries, Germany July 4, 1952; Box 1, Marcus Hernandez (Mister Marcus) collection (#2011-03). Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Historical Society
“To Mother, With love always, Gily” from Lenggries, Germany July 4, 1952; Box 1, Marcus Hernandez (Mister Marcus) collection (#2011-03). Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Historical Society

One of the GLBT Historical Society’s long-time volunteers, Richard Leadbetter, spent hours upon hours sorting through Marcus’ photographs – hundreds of rolls and prints documenting leather events and contests,

Carton 21, Marcus Hernandez (Mister Marcus) collection (#2011-03). Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Historical Society
Carton 21, Marcus Hernandez (Mister Marcus) collection (#2011-03). Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Historical Society

Imperial Court events, and Marcus’ circle of friends. When the photos were finally sorted and all other materials re-housed, preserved, and documented, Leadbetter and I created a collection finding aid and catalog record. Both those documents can be found by searching “Marcus Hernandez” on the GLBT Historical Society website’s “Search Our Archives” section.

If there’s any takeaway from the Marcus collection (and there are many!) it’s that Marcus seemed to have a part in everything LGBT-related in San Francisco. Photographs and references of him pop up everywhere, from his time working in the Mayor’s office in the early 1970s to those many Pride Parades in which he rode on his own float. For over 40 year, his presence in San Francisco put many at ease, while his quick wit earned him the respect of many. But he is not just a writer, an advocate, an Imperial Court Emperor; he is a legend, he is the one and only Mister Marcus.