Vanguard Revisited: Queer Ritual and World Making in the Tenderloin
Saturday, January 4, 2014: 11:30 AM
Columbia Hall 7 (Washington Hilton)
This paper revolves around religious ritual, street youth organizing, and queer world making in U.S. tenderloin vice districts. Drawing on new oral histories and archival research, I consider the significance of a small group of queer street youth and itinerant ministers who in 1966 founded the activist organization Vanguard and also created their own extra-ecclesiastical "street churches" in San Francisco's Tenderloin district. These individuals drew on Christian narratives, iconography, and ritual to reinterpret the emotional impact of social exclusion and structural violence, I argue, opening up opportunities for a variety of challenges to normative assumptions about sexuality, gender, and ability, and representative of an ongoing tradition that is collectively shared and specific to tenderloin districts across the country.
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