About

Joey Plaster is a lecturer of American Studies at Yale University. He teaches courses on oral history methods and theory; queer theory and performance studies; and public humanities.

His research focuses on the survival of queer homeless youth in San Francisco’s Tenderloin district, from the 1960s to the present. Drawing primarily on oral history narratives, the dissertation examines how “street families” and “street churches” are memorialized in today’s revanchist city.

The recipient of the American Historical Society’s 2010 Allan Berube Prize for work in public history, Plaster has been a Martin Duberman Visiting Scholar at the New York Public Library and a fellow at the Center for Gay and Lesbian Studies at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, and has published his scholarship in Radical History Review.

Before entering academia, Plaster worked as a public humanities director and oral historian affiliated with San Francisco’s Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Historical Society. He has designed projects to interpret oral histories in relation to neighborhood gentrification and conflict, engage homeless youth activists in documenting and interpreting their community’s history, and present pre-gay liberation college life through interactive online platforms.

Oral History


Joey has produced audio for NPR’s Hearing Voices, San Francisco’s KALW radio, Project Homeless Connect, and the San Francisco Night Ministry. From 2009-2011 he served as director of the San Francisco GLBT Historical Society’s Oral History Program.

Projects include:

  • Polk Street Stories, an hour-long radio documentary produced with Jay Allison at transom.org and distributed nationally through NPR’s Hearing Voices.
  • With Yale University’s LGBT Family Histories Project, conducted oral histories with leaders of the GLBT families movement in New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco.
  • As director of the Oberlin College LGBT Oral History Project, conducted 70+ oral histories and incorporated them into a thesis-length paper and a permanent, multimedia archive.
  • With the Brooklyn Historical Society’s School of Inquiry Oral History Project, recorded “life histories” from roughly 180 precocious six-year-olds.
  • As director of Polk Street: Lives in Transition, recorded and interpreted more than 70 oral histories in relation to contemporary neighborhood change and conflict. (pictured)

Public Humanities

Joey has worked as an oral historian, radio producer, and freelance journalist with the Peabody award-winning transom.org, The Nation, the San Francisco Bay Guardian, and KALW radio.

As an independent public humanities director affiliated with San Francisco’s Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Historical society from 2006-2010, Joey spearheaded projects funded by the California Council for the Humanities, the National Endowment for the Arts, the San Francisco Foundation, and other funders.

Projects include:

Vanguard Revisited was structured as an imagined conversation between two cohorts of homeless youth activists in San Francisco’s Tenderloin district: one which in 1966 founded the seminal organization Vanguard and another which in 2011 “reconstituted” the organization around contemporary concerns by reenacting its street theater, artistic productions, and organizational structure. Jan. 2010-June 2011. More here.

 

 

Awarded the American Historical Association’s 2010 Allan Berube Prize for public humanities, Polk Street: Lives in Transition interpreted more than seventy original oral histories in relation to contemporary neighborhood change and conflict. Outcomes included a multimedia exhibit, radio documentaries, historical narratives, and a series of neighborhood dialogues and events. Oct. 2007-Dec. 2009. More here.

 

   

The Oberlin College LGBT Community History Project  interpreted more than seventy oral histories through a thesis-length paper and permanent, multimedia archive, currently being maintained by the college administration and used as a teaching resource in Oberlin classrooms. July 2005-present.

Screenshot of original website:

 

Vanguard Revisited

vanguard-photos-mixednegatives

“Vanguard Revisited” was structured as an imagined conversation between two cohorts of homeless youth activists in San Francisco’s Tenderloin district: one which in 1966 founded the seminal organization Vanguard and another which in 2011 “reconstituted” the organization around contemporary concerns.

 

Instead of simply transmitting historical evidence to contemporary youth, the project sought to enlist them in documenting and interpreting the past in relation to their own lives in the present. With the fiscal sponsorship of San Francisco’s GLBT Historical Society and in collaboration with several non-profit organizations, youth:

 

  • published a 60-page magazine linking past and present
  • led history walking tours of the Tenderloin
  • participated in a speaking tour of GLBT homeless youth shelters and faith communities in Portland, New York City, Los Angeles, and San Francisco
  • recreated 1960s street theater in response to contemporary policy
  • participated in discussion groups and intergenerational conversations

MAGAZINE RELEASE PARTY

 

More about the project in “Imagined Conversations and Activist Lineages”, Radical History Review, Spring 2012.

Press: Inside Stories: “Making History: Vanguard Revisited Has a Conversation with the Past“; Bay Area Reporter: ”Encampment’ brings attention to homeless LGBT youth“; Bay Area Reporter: “Political Notebook: Queer youth revive 1960s magazine

Funders: The California Council for the Humanities, the San Francisco Foundation, the Human Rights Campaign Religion and Faith Program, the St. Francis Foundation, the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation, and the Horizons Foundation.

Polk Street

Awarded the American Historical Association’s 2010 Allan Berube Prize for public humanities, Polk Street: Lives in Transition interpreted more than seventy original oral histories in relation to contemporary neighborhood change and conflict.

San Francisco’s Polk Street had long been a national destination and home to some of the most underrepresented persons of the LGBT community, including homeless youth, immigrants, and trans women. From 2007-2009, with the area’s remaining gay and trans bars closing, rising rents forcing out long-time residents, and middle-income businesses, restaurants, bars, and residents quickly moving in, this public humanities project sought to build bridges and facilitate dialog through a number of venues:

  • a traveling multimedia exhibit
  • a series of professionally mediated neighborhood dialogues
  • oral history “listening parties”
  • historical narrative commissioned by the Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies at CUNY
  • “Polk Street Stories” radio documentary distributed nationally via NPR

Media: Oral Histories Tell Polk Street’s Story,” The San Francisco Chronicle, Aug 8, 2009.

Funders: the California Council for the Humanities, the Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies at the City University of New York, and individual donors.

ORAL HISTORY LISTENING PARTY, 2010.

 

 

EXHIBIT OPENING RECEPTION, GLBTHS

 

MULTIMEDIA EXHIBIT, POLK STREET

 

MULTIMEDIA EXHIBIT, GLBTHS

CV

Education

Yale University, PhD in American Studies, expected 2016

  • Major fields for oral exams: Ethnographic Theory and Representation; U.S. Cultural History; Performance Studies; Gender and Sexuality
  • Committee: Kathryn Dudley (chair), Jean-Christophe Agnew, Joseph Roach

Yale University, M.A. and M.Phil in American Studies, 2013

Oberlin College, Oberlin, OH, B.A. in History, Jan. 2001

Public Humanities Project Director

Director, Tenderloin: Stories of Transformation. Designed public history project engaging homeless and marginally housed GLBT youth. Outcomes, in collaboration with five non-profit and social service organizations: youth-produced magazine, walking tours, street theater, academic essay, and national speaking tour. Jan. 2010-June 2011.

Director, Polk Street: Lives in Transition. Interpreted more than seventy oral histories and archival research in relation to neighborhood gentrification and conflict on San Francisco’s Polk Street. Outcomes: multimedia exhibit; radio documentaries; historical narrative; series of neighborhood dialogues and events. Oct. 2007-Dec. 2009.

Director, Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Historical Society Oral History Program, San Francisco, CA. Worked with GLBTHS Archivist and Executive Director to maintain and expand oral history collection. Organized methodological and equipment trainings, facilitated individual projects, and served as point person for public programming and outreach. May 2009-Jul. 2011.

Director, Oberlin College LGBT Oral History Project. Interpreted more than seventy oral histories through thesis-length paper and permanent, multimedia archive at www.oberlinlgbt.org, currently being maintained by the college administration and used as a teaching resource in Oberlin classrooms. July 2005-Jun. 2007.

Oral History, Radio Documentary, Audio

Skills: Field recording, studio recording, tape syncs, audio editing (ProTools)

Equipment: Marantz Professional PMD660 Portable Solid State Recorder, Sennheiser MD 46 – Dynamic ENG Microphone.

“Polk Street Stories,” hour-long oral history piece distributed nationally via NPR’s HearingVoices, Jun. 21, 2010. Adapted for the stage and produced by Georgetown University’s Mask and Bauble Dramatic Society in 2013.

Oral Historian and Audio Producer, San Francisco Night Ministry 50th Anniversary Project, Summer 2013. Commissioned to create seven audio portraits of Night Ministry staff.

Oral Historian, Brooklyn Historical Society’s Brooklyn School of Inquiry Project, Jan. 2012-present. For three successive years, recorded “life histories” from roughly three hundred precocious six-year-olds.

Oral Historian and Research Assistant, LGBT Family Histories Project, Yale Research Initiative on the History of Sexualities, Summer 2012. Conducted oral histories with leaders of the GLBT families movement in New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco.

“Growing Home Community Garden,” Project Homeless Connect, San Francisco, 2011. Commissioned to create audio portraits of six homeless participants.

“Polk Gulch: the Story of Corey Longseeker,” radio documentary distributed via KALW’s Crosscurrents, Oct. 1, 2009.

Oral History Workshops and Presentations

“Conflict and Community: Facilitating Bridge-Building through Oral History” Workshop, Concordia University Centre for Oral History and Digital Storytelling, Montreal, Canada, Mar. 19, 2014.

“Representing ‘Trauma’ Through Music, Sound, and Oral History,” Symposium for Emerging Scholars in Oral, Digital, and Public History, Concordia University Centre for Oral History and Digital Storytelling, Montreal, Canada, Mar. 21, 2014.

Organizer, Groundswell Oral History and Social Justice Gathering, Ossining, NY, May 17-19, 2013.

“Pubic History Exhibits: Institutions, Communities and Curators Collaborate,” Annual Meeting, American Alliance of Museums, Baltimore, MA, May 20, 2013.

“Movement Stories: Oral History and Movement Building,” Groundswell Oral History for Social Change Gathering, Ossining, NY, May 17-19, 2013.

“The Pleasures and Perils of LGBTQ Public History,” American Historical Association Annual Conference, Chicago, IL, Jan. 8, 2012.

“Using Oral History for Social Justice,” Groundswell Oral History for Social Change Gathering, Briarcliff Manor, NY, Sept. 15-16, 2012.

Oral History Methods and Practice Workshop, Yale University Public Humanities Working Group, New Haven, CT, Feb. 28, 2012.

Oral History Methods and Practice Workshop, California College for the Arts, San Francisco, CA Feb. 2011.

“Queer Public Histories of the Tenderloin,” Sonoma State University, Sonoma, CA, Feb. 16, 2010.

“Polk Street: Lives in Transition Listening Party,” Lush Lounge, San Francisco, Jun. 18, 2009.

Awards and Fellowships

The American Historical Association’s Allan Bérubé Prize for outstanding work in public GLBT history, 2010.

National Council for Public History’s Public History Prize, Honorable Mention, 2011.

Yale University Fund for Lesbian and Gay Studies Award, Fall 2011 and Summer 2014.

Martin Duberman Visiting Scholar, New York Public Library, New York, NY, 2011.

OutHistory Fellowship, The Graduate Center of the City University of New York Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies, 2008.

San Francisco Board of Supervisors Commendation, 2009.

Andy Cemelli Student Research Grant, Oberlin College LGBT History Project, 2000.

Selected Academic Presentations and Lectures

Respondent, “Memorials and Traumas of Nationhood,” Farewell Performances: A Conference of Interdisciplinary Performance Studies at Yale, Whitney Humanities Center, Yale University, Apr. 18, 2015.

Performance Studies Summer Institute in Creative Ethnography, Northwestern  University’s Center for Global Culture and Communication, July 7-11, 2014.

“‘Idealists of the Slums:’ Queer Intimacies and the Ambivalence of the Sacred in San Francisco’s Tenderloin,” European Social Science History Conference, Vienna, Austria, Apr. 26, 2014.

“‘Idealists of the Slums:’ Queer Intimacies and the Ambivalence of the Sacred in San Francisco’s Tenderloin,” American Historical Association Annual Conference, Washington D.C., Jan. 4, 2014.

“Co-Performing Queer Histories in San Francisco’s Tenderloin,” Yale University Performance Studies Working Group, New Haven, CT, Jan. 29, 2013.

“Vanguard Revisited: Religious Ritual and Queer World Making in San Francisco’s Tenderloin, 1960s-Present,” Yale University American Religious History Working Group, New Haven, CT, Oct. 8, 2012.

“Being at the Forefront: Oberlin’s Progressive History,” Oberlin College, Oberlin, OH, Sept. 22, 2012.

“’Turn Yourself Inside Out and See With New Eyes’: Homeless GLBT Youth Organizing, 1960s and Today,” May-Jun. 2011:

  • New York, May 27-30: Trinity Lutheran Church of Manhattan and MCCNY Homeless Youth Services: Sylvia’s Place.
  • Los Angeles, Jun. 10-11: The Gay & Lesbian Center’s Kruks-Tilsner Transitional Living Program for Youth.
  • Portland, Jun. 17-18: Central Lutheran Church and New Avenues for Youth.
  • San Francisco, Jun. 23: GLBT Historical Society Museum.

“Vanguard Revisited: A Continuing Legacy,” California College for the Arts, San Francisco, Feb. 8, 2010.

“Reconstructing the Polk,” Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Historical Society, San Francisco, CA, May 19, 2009.

“Queer Hoods: LGBT Histories of Polk Street and Bronzeville,” City University of New York, Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies, New York, NY, May 8, 2009.

“Homelessness and History: Polk Street Stories Project,” California Historical Society, San Francisco, Mar. 18, 2009.

“Uncovering Oberlin’s Queer Past,” Oberlin College History Department, Oct. 5, 2007.

“Street Power: the Story of San Francisco’s Vanguard,” National Queer Arts Festival, San Francisco, Jun. 14, 2010.

Selected Publications

“Public Histories of Queer Youth Homelessness and the Policing of Public Space,” Radical History Review Issue 113, May 2012.

“Behind the Masks: GLBT Life at Oberlin College,” thesis-length historical narrative written under the direction of Prof. Carol Lasser, 2001, revised 2007.

“Polk Street: Lives in Transition,” commissioned by the Graduate Center of the City University of New York’s OutHistory Project, published online, Apr. 2009.

“LGBT Pride Parade,” commissioned by the University of California’s Calisphere project, published online, 2011.

“The Rise and Fall of a Polk Street Hustler,” San Francisco Bay Guardian cover story, Mar. 18, 2009.

“Importing Injustice,” San Francisco Bay Guardian cover story, July 18, 2007.

“The Ruckus Society at a Crossroads,” Z Magazine, Feb. 12, 2004.

Curatorial

Curator, Our Vast Queer Past: Celebrating GLBT History, Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Historical Society Museum, San Francisco, Aug. 2010.

Lead curator, Forty Years of Pride. Contractor with the San Francisco Pride Committee, Apr. 2010-present. Initial research completed.

Lead curator, Polk Street: Lives in Transition, Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Historical Society main gallery, San Francisco, Jan. 2009-Aug. 2009.

Curator, Passionate Struggle: Dynamics of San Francisco’s GLBT History, Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Historical Society Museum, San Francisco, 2008.

Research, Consultant, and Advising

Core Working Group, Groundswell: Oral History for Social Change, 2012-2013.

Co-Chair, Yale Public Humanities Working Group, Fall 2012-present. Organized yearlong speaker series on the theme of cross-pollination between academic research and community organizing.

Member, Yale Ethnography and Oral History Working Group, Fall 2012-present.

Advisor, “Voices of Fair Haven,” Yale University Public Humanities M.A. project, Spring 2012.

Prize Committee member, American Historical Association’s Allan Bérubé Prize, 2012.

Research Assistant, My Desire for History: Essays in Gay, Community, and Labor History, By Allan Bérubé (UNC Press, 2011). Edited by John D’Emilio and Estelle B. Freedman.

Historical consultant, feature film Transgender Tuesdays: A Clinic In the Tenderloin, 2012.

Historical consultant, feature film We Were Here, 2010.

Historical consultant, feature film Beginners, 2010.

Historical consultant, Polk Street Mural Project, Mayor’s Office of Economic and Workforce Development, San Francisco, 2011.

Researcher/interviewer, Institute for Scientific Analysis, sociological study of Asian American gay club culture and drug use, San Francisco, Mar. 2010-Jun. 2011.

Editor, Undisclosed Recipients, Oberlin, OH, Feb.-May. 1999.

Researcher, Sarasota County Openly Prepares for Excellence, Sarasota, FL, Nov. 2001-Aug. 2003.

Intern, The Nation, New York, NY, May.-Aug. 2000.

Teaching

Teaching Fellow, Formation of Modern American Culture, Professor Matthew Jacobson, Yale University, Spring 2015.

Teaching Fellow, Women, Food, and Culture, Yale University, Professor Maria Trumpler, Fall 2014.

Teaching Fellow, U.S. 21st Century Hollywood Film, Professor Ron Gregg, Yale University, Spring 2014.

Teaching Fellow, U.S. Lesbian and Gay History, Professor George Chauncey, Yale University, Fall 2013.

Grant-writing

California Council for the Humanities Story Fund, Tenderloin: Stories of Transformation project, 2010-2011.

Leona B. Carpenter Foundation, funding traveling exhibit and national speaking tour, Tenderloin: Stories of Transformation project, 2010-2011.

Horizons Foundation, funding archival research and public history programming, Tenderloin: Stories of Transformation project, 2010.

San Francisco Foundation, funding public history and arts programming with GLBT homeless youth, Tenderloin: Stories of Transformation project, 2010.

National Endowment for the Arts, funding Polk Street Stories Radio Hour, distributed nationally through NPR’s Hearing Voices, 2010.

Human Rights Campaign Religion and Faith Program, funding stipends for youth leadership positions, Tenderloin: Stories of Transformation project, 2010.

Rainbow Endowment, funding archival research and public history programming, Polk Street: Lives in Transition, 2009.

California Council for the Humanities, funding multimedia exhibit and oral history collection, Polk Street: Lives in Transition, 2008.

Selected Media Coverage          

“Making History: ‘Vanguard Revisited’ Has a Conversation With the Past,” Inside Stories, Mar. 20, 2011.

“Political Notebook: Queer youth revive 1960s magazine,” San Francisco Bay Area Reporter, Feb. 3, 2011.

Talking History, University at Albany, State University of New York-based oral history informational center, podcast Sept. 30, 2010.

“Oral Histories Tell Polk Street’s Story,” San Francisco Chronicle feature article, page E-1, Aug 8, 2009.

“Profile in Ministry: Expanding the Definition of an LGBT Advocate,” Human Rights Campaign Newsletter, March 4, 2009.

“Polk Street profiles,” KALW’s Crosscurrents radio program, Jun 24, 2009.

“The Life and Death of a Polk Street Hustler,” Boston-based One In Ten radio program, Mar. 22, 2009.

“The Changing Face of Polk Street, Pictured,” San Francisco Bay Guardian, Dec. 30, 2008.

“Out of the Past: Oberlin graduate Joey Plaster takes steps to record and preserve Oberlin’s LGBT history,” Oberlin Alumni Magazine, Winter 2008.