Monday, July 1, 2013

Vangaurd Revisited Online Exhibit

Curated by Megan Rohrer 2013.

Megan Rohrer is a nationally recognized LGBTQ faith leader, historian, writer, homeless advocate, community organizer and speaker. The first openly transgender pastor ordained in the Lutheran church, Megan was awarded an honorary doctorate from Palo Alto University, won Out History's Since Stonewall Local Histories Competition and co-edited Letters For Our Brothers: Transitional Wisdom in Retrospect, which was a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award in transgender nonfiction.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Vangaurd Young Adult in the News: SF Bay Gaurdian

See the full Article: The Faces of Feminism

Transgender activist and SF Youth Commission officer
I've worked for a plethora of LGBTQ organizations and have been on several national speaking tours. I currently serve as media and public relations officer of the San Francisco Youth Commission, and use my position to promote LGBTQ safety and overall health. I've partnered with several city departments in order to create a cultural competency video that will train all service providers on best practices for working with LGBTQ youth. As a vocal advocate against hate crimes and sexual assaults, I'm working with local groups to create a community patrol in the Mission to prevent violence against women and transgender people. I'm also the founder of Fundraising Everywhere for All Transitions: a Health Empowerment Revolution! (FEATHER), a collective aimed at making gender-affirming transitions more affordable for low income transgender people. I work to create avenues of equality for those who benefit the least from patriarchy by creating a culture of safety and support for people of all genders.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

In the News: Windy City Times

The pleasures and perils of LGBTQ history
by Joe Franco

As part of the American History Association's recent conference in Chicago, a great deal of discussion was devoted to the emerging interest in LGBTQ history. An early-morning panel discussion Jan. 8 confronted many of the problems and the successes with LGBTQ history and its dissemination to the popular masses. Lauren Jae Gutterman, the panel's moderator and a Ph.D. candidate at New York University, started the group's discussion.

Professor Kevin Murphy, with the University of Minnesota, discussed his recent tribulations when putting together an oral history of the Twin Cities, saying, "We collected over 100 oral histories of the Twin Cities LGBTQ community. Historians, sociologists, geographers and ethnologists tried working together but found it difficult to create a work that would make their work interesting to the masses." The resulting book, Queer Twin Cities, was not well-received by the media or the intended target audience. Murphy admitted that not even the local Minneapolis gay press reviewed the book after its 2011 release. He said that it was "heartening to see the localized interest in GLBT history" but that, ultimately, the work seemed to alienate readers.

Professor John D'Emilio, with the University of Illinois-Chicago, brought more problems with LGBTQ public history to the table. He is co-director of a website called that was originally envisioned to be "Wiki-like" in that anyone could submit entries with constant updating from others. "The problem," said D'Emilio, "is that almost nobody submitted any content. Ultimately, there just was never going to be enough interest and enough content to build up steam."

D'Emilio believed the upcoming re-design of the website would help: "We want to abandon the 'Wiki' concept and make the content more transparent for the user." D'Emilio's solution for making LGBTQ public history more accessible through the web involved the use of individuals and more popular features that were user-friendly. He admitted that this was absolutely imperative that academics learned to speak in a language that made what they had to teach and say more accessible.

Professor Don Romesburg—an assistant professor at Sonoma State University and a curator for the recently opened GLBT History Museum (the first full-scale, stand-alone facility of its kind in the United States) in San Francisco—reported on a definite success in the LGBTQ-history scene. Worldwide attention focused on the opening of the facility, prompting Romesburg to joke, "Britney Spears was at our museum."

Tens of thousands of individuals have visited the museum since its opening last January. "We've had 2,000 new Facebook 'Likes' and 100 new members in our first year alone," said Romesburg. The museum is unique in that it resisted a chronologically linear model in its layout. "The arrangement was about demonstrating belonging and making power present," said Romesburg about the museum's success. The museum's success, seen in light of the failure of other queer-history initiatives, certainly begs the question, "What did the GLBT History Museum do differently?" Romesburg theorized, "We tried to welcome everybody. The construction of a museum means that we matter. It's relevant, important and meaningful."

The discussion ended with Joey Plaster, a graduate student at Yale, and Rev. Megan Rohrer, a Lutheran minister who works with at-risk and impoverished LGBT youth of the Castro and Tenderloin neighborhoods in San Francisco.

Their work with the queer youth is not unlike Boystown's unprecedented problems this past summer. The gentrified Castro wanted the gay youth out of the neighborhood. A concerted effort among the residents, shop owners, bar owners and politicians began to form.

Ultimately, Plaster and Rohrer used history as a way of mobilizing the disenfranchised queer youth. They used the imagery of the 1960s to propel the voices of the neighborhood queer youth. Rohrer said that "the use of tactile GLBT historical artifacts was more than enough motivation for the queer youth to spring into action." She added, "When an individual gets to see and touch something historical, something from the past, this alone is transformative."

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Chicago youth poi dancing

Seeking to remain anonymous, one of the occupants of the LGBTQ homeless youth shelter, in the artistic spirit of Vanguard, told their story through dance. See it below:

Location:Chicago: The Crib

Monday, January 2, 2012

In Their Own Words: Taylor

Every LGBTQ homeless youth has their own story to tell. Taylor's story is just one of them. Together with the stories of other youth around the country, we can begin to learn more about the struggles LGBTQ Homeless youth face. But remember, no one person can represent an entire population. Nor, can a few videos tell the entire story of one individual. This was Taylor's story on 12/29/2011.

Video 1: Excerpts
Brief highlights from Taylor's interviews. Longer clips of the interviews can be found by topic below.

Video 2: How I Became Homeless

This is Taylor's story about leaving home in order to get hormones, living in unsafe conditions and ending up homeless in San Francisco. I included some information below the video that you may need to know to understand Taylor's story:

blood tests- before getting hormones, you have to undergo blood tests

master/slave relationship- a sexual relationship where two individuals have negotiated to role play a master and slave fantasy.

meal night- a program for LGBTQ youth at the San Francisco LGBT center

Lark-Inn - the city of San Francisco's only emergency shelter, run by the Larkin Street Youth Program

MSC South - a shelter in San Francisco's mission district that has a 24 hour drop in waiting room. It is rumored to be the roughest shelter in town.

SRO- a single room occupancy hotel room. This is San Francisco's method of getting homeless folk off the streets, that according to the Federal government is still considered homelessness. Most individuals in SRO's don't get their own tenants rights because the SRO's are leased by other organizations.

Video 2: Stereotypes of LGBTQ Homeless Youth
Taylor talks about: 1) runaways and throwaways; 2) suicide; 3) sex work; 4) bathrooms; 5) hate crimes; 6) police relations.

clockable - when someone can tell that you are trans it's sometimes called being "clocked"

Video 3: Message and Political Issues Important to LGBTQ Homeless Youth
Taylor talks about the main political needs for LGBTQ homeless youth and Taylor's message for other youth who may be watching.

Video 4: Vanguard Project
Taylor was one of the youth published in the first issue of Vanguard Revisited. Taylor reflects on the weekly Monday gatherings, how it helped the youth stay in touch and how it felt to work with pastors.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

New Horizons

"Better keep yourself clean and bright; you are the window through which you must see the world."

Hey there people! This is Willow, back from stasis. Well, some cool updates: first, the 23rd was my birthday! Yay me! I'm 22 now, and fully annoyed with all the teenagers in my life. Laughs. But anyways, secondly, this coming week I get to go shopping! YAYS! It will be my first time shopping for female clothes, and Jennifer, my case manager from an awesome program called OusideIn, is going to take me to get fitted for a brassiere. I'm a little nervous about that, seeing as I've never done it before. Some of my female friends tell me that it's super uncomfortable until you get used to wearing them, but my back will apparently feel better for having done it. Meh, I'm not sure, but it's another step on the road! Hopefully I'll find some super cute clothes that'll actually fit me. But thirdly, and most importantly, I have an appointment set with the Trans Clinic here in Portland for December 6th. It's official and nothing short of death or disfigurement is going to stop me from attending, damnit.

On a completely different note, my surrogate sister from Roseburg is coming up to take me to the Vans Warped Tour. The tickets are like $32, and I get to go with her after not seeing her for like 6 months. I'm so excited I could bounce around crazily, fluttering my arms like a high school girl thinking about her long-time crush. But I won't, mostly because it would make me feel like an idiot. Anyway. Super excited about that.

Now, oddly enough in my opinion, I was asked out last night by a boy. I say oddly enough, because I don't very well see myself as dating material. He's kinda cute, but in a really, REALLY nerdy way, and he's Wiccan, which while it doesn't bother me, doesn't set me at ease either. He's kind of annoying, but has a sweet innocence around him that kind of endears him to me. I'm not sure what I should do about it, but I don't just want to deny him. He was super sweet about asking, and even though he couldn't stop laughing, I'm considering his proposition. It was really great though, I was sitting there with a serious look on my face telling him to stop laughing, because I knew exactly what he was trying to ask me. He was too nervous sounding to be trying to ask anything else. I told him that I wasn't going to make it easy for him to ask, because, well, it's a damn serious question to ask. Honestly, do you want a guy coming up to you and cracking up while he's asking you to be his girlfriend? No, you wouldn't. It's demeaning, and it seems like they aren't taking it seriously. But anyway, I'm thinking about it, and I'm thinking about saying yes. Please leave a comment with your opinion. Not that your opinions will be the deciding factors, but it'd be nice to hear from at least a person or two who've been in maybe a similar situation. But I digress.

I picked today's quote because it's great. It's just telling you in a roundabout way that if you take care of yourself, you'll see the world better. It's true, at least from what I've seen so far. As soon as I took the time to get myself taken care of, I became happier and less hopeless about my situations. Just remember that you are the world's representative to yourself, and if you make a bad impression, things could go horribly horribly wrong for you.

Sincerely until next time,

Willow D. Frost

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Check-in Time

Quote of the day: "Focus on the journey, not the destination; for joy is found not in finishing an activity, but in doing it." - Greg Anderson


Hello again Vanguard, this is my second attempt at a blog, and hopefully I'll do some good. Now, some exciting news, I have officially changed my name to Willow Danielle Frost, and am getting some momentum on the ball I've already set in motion.

Now on to less exciting news. Yesterday was Independance Day. I decided I was ging to tell my mother about my transition and my name change over dinner, because it's an important thing that the woman who gave birth to me should know about. It was a perfect setting, we were all laughing and talking while setting off fireworks, and were generally having a good time. I took my mother to the side and told her I had something really important to talk to her about, and it was very exciting for me. I then proceeded to tell her about everything.

It was the longest, saddest minute of my life while my mother stood there and looked at me like I was the most disgusting thing she'd ever seen. When she finally spoke, she said "Leave here now, you are no son of mine. It'll be a cold day in Hell when my family will ever accept this, or you. Now go." She then escorted me off her property roughly, and plastered a smile on her face when another guest that I didn't know came up. "Sorry, I was just getting rid of an unwelcome visitor." My mother said to the guest.

I left. It was the only thing I could do. My family didn't want me, none of them have called to comfort me or say they didn't agree with my mom. I'm holding out hope, but I have to expect the worst.

In a way though, I'm kind of happy this happened. Because now I can say with complete confidence - even though my family, those who I considered my closest supporters, don't agree with my decisions, and would stop me if they could - I am a woman. I no longer have to act like a man around my family, or speak in masculine tones on the phone, or hurriedly clean off my nail polish before going to brunch. I am completely unfettered.

I picked the quote of the day, not only because it's true, but because it applies to my last two weeks. To my who transition, really. I am very happy with my choice of name now (I'd have to be, or I wouldn't have chosen it.), but the funnest thing wasn't going to the DMV to get my ID changed, it was sitting down with my closest girl friends and choosing the names from the baby books. The pure sense of joy, it was the closest I'm going to be able to get to giving birth to a new life. In a way I did. Shawn Michael Bean has ceased to exist, and in his place, is this new woman: Willow Danielle Frost.

This last couple of weeks has been very emotional for me, but I'm looking forward to the journey ahead. Please, feel free to take your own journeys; be it just outside to get the mail, to the peak of Mount Everest, or to becoming the gender, race, or species you believe yourself to be. Don't let anyone get in the way of your dreams, and enjoy the journey you set yourself on, because like Mr. Anderson said: the joy is not in finishing an activity, but in doing it.


Willow D. Frost