As director of “Vanguard Revisited,” from 2010-2012, I collaborated with five non-profit, social service, and faith-based organizations to teach GLBT history to homeless youth in San Francisco’s Tenderloin. Instead of simply delivering historical material to contemporary youth, I enlisted them in documenting and interpreting the past in relation to their own lives—indeed, to enter into conversation with that history and to position themselves as part of a historical lineage. With the fiscal sponsorship of San Francisco’s GLBT Historical Society, 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
Youth participants drew historical and genealogical connections between themselves and homeless youth activists in the 1960s, illuminating continuities and discontinuities in the lives of queer homeless youth over the previous fifty years. They broadcast their own stories in the spirit of original 1960s organizing, prioritizing economic justice at a time when representations of GLBT life increasingly revolve around privatized family life and conspicuous consumption.
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.