Thursday, November 18, 2010

Introduction to the Online Exhibit

This exhibit is designed to inspire creativity and an active response to the issues presented in this project. It intends to be interactive and to leave visitors feeling like they have a valuable voice that can continue the conversation begun in the exhibit.

To this aim, this exhibit lifts up the voices (through Magazine excerpts, oral history and additional historical reference materials) that seek to provoke, uncover lost or forgotten voices or are particularly creative.

The materials in this exhibit come from the original Vanguard participants (1969-1971) and a contemporary group of queer street youth (2010-2011) who live in the same Tenderloin District of San Francisco. The third component of this exhibit is your voice. This exhibit will continue to add the thoughts, voices, art work and comments of visitors as is appropriate.

We believe that history is alive, that it is not only about capturing sights, sounds and tales of the past, but it is also the story and effect that it has on the lives of those who are inspired, repulsed or bored by it. Thank you for being a part of this history.

Since the exhibit is based around themes, rather than a chronological history, you may want to read A (Brief) History of Vanguard by Joey Plaster (2011) before viewing the exhibit.

Loneliness & Community
Poverty & Social Stigma
Drug Use & Sex Work
Sexuality & Gender
Mental Health
Queer Theology

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Loneliness & Community

Excerpts From Vanguard Magazine (1966-1971)

Poverty & Social Stigma

Drug Use & Sex Work

Excerpts From Vanguard Magazine (1966-1971)

Sexuality & Gender

Excerpts from Vanguard Magazine (1966-1971)

Mental Health

Excerpts From Vanguard Magazine (1966-1971)

Queer Theology

Featured Sermons and Writings from Pastors (1964-1971):

Sept. 1968 Letter from Rev. Keith to Bishop Ray Broshears on Being a Gay Pastor. Courtesy of the GLBT Historical Society, Ray Broshears Papers.

An Ecumenical Eucharist Liturgy to Celebrate the Presence of Homosexuals (pdf), April 1969. [Bishop Michael Itkin, Courtesy of the GLBT Historicial Society, Ray Broshears Papers]

Bishop Michael Itkin - Bishop of the Holy Catholic Synod of the Syro-Chaldean Rite doing missionary work in the Tenderloin who ordained several of the Vanguard youth as missionaries.
Sermon: Christ and the Homosexual [Christmas 1969]

Excerpts From Vanguard Magazine (1966-71):

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Screaming Queen Meets Vanguard Youth

Today Felicia Flame, a screaming queen who was a part of the Compton Cafeteria Riots, meet with the youth who are gathering to create their own version of Vanguard in the Tenderloin. She shared about her story, her encounter with the Vanguard youth and her reflections about why preserving the history of the Tenderloin and the transgender activists is so important.

Felicia talked with the youth for two hours on topics ranging from surgeries and hormones to the problems with classism and politics.

Near the end of her visit, one of the youth remarked: "to hear what you've been through makes me feel satisfied because it means we're not invisible."

Felicia challenged the youth to preserve the history of the Tenderloin that, in her view, is in danger of being forgotten because the individuals whom it is important to are too poor to buy plaques or statues to remember it.

Her final words to the youth were: "You are all leaders, I expect much from you!"

This was the third gathering of the Larkin youth, who are working towards creating a contemporary volume of the Vanguard Magazine, creating their own group and hope to create some sort of political action to draw attention to the issues that are important to them.

If you are interested in submitting something to their magazine, click the submission tab above.

Location:Larkin Street Youth Center, Tenderloin, San Francisco

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Call For Submissions

In an effort to offer hands-on, community-based engagement with this history, today’s Tenderloin residents will produce a free, screen-printed publication in the style of the original Vanguard Magazine, pairing new writings and artwork “in conversation” with originals.

We will print at least 1000 copies of a 60-80-page publication (8 1/2 X 14) with roughly 45 entries: about 15 pieces from the original magazine and 30 new pieces. We are looking for art, writing, poetry, etc. Youth can submit in any format they would like.

Mirroring the original Vanguard Magazine, the magazine will also include material from urban ministers, anti-poverty activists, and Tenderloin organizers; interviews and oral histories; short historical writings contextualizing Vanguard; and relevant snippets from the GLBTHS archives.

Possible themes include: faith and queer theology; loneliness and community; poverty and social stigma; drug use and sex work; sexuality and gender.

Send to: GLBT Historical Society, 657 Mission Street #300, San Francisco, CA 94105.

Questions? Call Joey Plaster at 415.777.5455 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 415.777.5455 end_of_the_skype_highlighting X2 or write at

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Introducing Joey Plaster

Joey Plaster is an independent public historian, radio producer, and freelance journalist living in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Joey is the recipient of the 2010 Allan Bérubé Prize for outstanding work in public GLBT history, awarded by the American Historical Association’s Committee on LGBT History. He was a 2009 fellow at the Center for Gay and Lesbian Studies at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York.

Joey's public history projects have explored San Francisco's Polk Street, pre-gay liberation Oberlin College, and anti-poverty organizing in San Francisco's Tenderloin. He has worked with KALW radio, the Peabody award-winning, The Nation, and the SF Bay Guardian. He is Director of the GLBT Historical Society's Oral History Program and curator of the San Francisco LGBT Pride Committee's forthcoming fortieth anniversary exhibit.

A graduate of Oberlin College, Joey has received funding from the California Council for the Humanities, the National Endowment for the Arts, the San Francisco Foundation, the Rainbow Endowment, the Hermes Foundation, and the Human Rights Campaign’s Religion and Faith Program.

You may contact Joey at Download CV (PDF)

Work samples:

  • Polk Street Stories, hour-long radio documentary created for the Peabody-award winning and distributed nationally through NPR's Hearing Voices.
  • Polk Street Oral History Project, recipient of the American Historical Association's 2010 Allan Bérubé Prize for outstanding work in public GLBT history.
  • Behind the Masks, 90-page essay charting Oberlin College LGBT life from the 1920s to the early 1970s.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Sermon: Christ and the Homosexual

[Excerpts from: Itkin, Michael, “Christ and the Homosexual,” sermon preached at Midnight Holy Eucharist, Christmas 1969 at the Community of Jesus our Brother, San Francisco and repeated at the Free Particle All-Gay Symposium – West Coast Gay Liberation Conference, Wesley Center, Berkeley CA 26 December 1966, Gay Clergy, 96-3 Carton 2, Papers of Raymond Broshears, Courtesy of the Gay Lesbian Bisexual Transgender Historical Society.]

“It is time we come up out of the land of the living dead, up out of the tombs of our oppression. We must admit that half of Homosexual life in the oppressive society, the half that includes hiding in ‘closets,’ furtive meetings and the dehumanized hunt for sex without human encounter, is life in the tombs. But we have before us now the prospect of coming up out of the tombs.”


“The Church of Christ must recover its mission to enable these kinds of person-affirming relationships to occur.”


Itkin continues by sharing the ancient Serbian Liturgy for “Pobratimstvo,” which in the words of Mary Edith Durham “’was as follows: The two parties went together to church. The priest read a prayer. The two then took a large goblet of wine, and both, setting their lips to it, sipped at once. They then broke bread and each ate a piece. They sipped and ate together thus three times, and then kissed the Cross, the Gospels and the ikon (sic), and lastly, each other.’”


“The Gospel calls us to become a ‘New Being,’ a new humanity in serving the people even to the Cross, as Jesus did, if need be. This new humanity has been described in such terms as the ‘city of God’. Yet if you walk down the streets of the city today and see the desolate, alienated and oppressed people, you cannot help but wonder at how the city can reflect the new humanity. Take a moment out to talk to adolescent runaways and so-called ‘hippies,’ to youth without homes an d street-people, to Black-people, Latin Americans & Indian-Americans, to draft-resisters demonstrators for peace & radicals who rightly feel that the institutional church has betrayed the revolutionary message of the Gospel; know in your gut the feeling of many Homosexuals and others seeking to know Love in any of its diverse forms, who have been rejected by the institutional church which has refused to admit that Love, any kind of Love, is the reflection of the Love of God shown in Jesus – and realize the alienation of an entire cross-section of our population.

“In the midst of this desperation there also lies our most creative hope. For here the new situation of urban man, with his rebellion against the cultural poverty, economic oppression and bureaucratic dehumanization by the State is now coming to a head: shaping new structures, new patterns, alternative forms of human life.

“It is precisely in this place and at this time that we are called to participate in the revolutionary lifestyle of Jesus as the man for others. Now our survival may well depend on our ability to overcome past inadequacies and introduce anew His revolution of nonviolent and transforming Love.

“While the institutional church condemns that Love which differs from society’s norm, an alternative community has the possibility of recognizing that whatever is done with Love is done in the Spirit of Jesus. While the institutional church takes itself so seriously that it dies, an alternative community has the possibility of learning how to play and celebrate and, therefore how to truly worship. While the institutional church is safe, an alternative community has the possibility of persecution, martyrdom, prison, sainthood and also of victory and the transformation o f the world into a loving and creative Community of Man in the Spirit of Jesus.

“The Community of Jesus needs to acknowledge every man’s and woman’s need for intimacy and, if there is a choice between intimacy in the sex act alone or no intimacy at all, the sex act alone has to be recognized as an authentic moment of human and eternal encounter.”

“Jesus, Whom we follow, is not a Lord of withdrawl from the sphere of social action: but He is our Brother and Liberator, and He is the Leader of rebellion against all vested bureaucracy and oppression, the Leader of challenge and nonviolent revolution, reconciling Love incarnate among us as the Centre (sic) of history and the Centre of our lives."