Periodically Queer Season 2 Ep. 1 – “Prophets and Misfits” – on Vanguard Magazine

“To a certain degree, Vanguard was family. They call themselves the street gang. But it wasn’t. It was a family.”

In the first episode of Periodically Queer Season 2, host traci kato-kiriyama reminds us of the courageous power of LGBTQ+ youth by uncovering the inspiring history of Vanguard Magazine. In San Francisco’s Tenderloin District in the mid-1960s, Vanguard served as an epicenter of activist publication and organizing by queer and trans street youth facing discrimination, neglect, and abuse at the hands of society and the police.

Pushed to their limits, these queer youth made a home not only for themselves but for peers seeking mutual aid. Interviews with historians Joseph Plaster and Jeremy Sass detail how Vanguard organizers forged a political consciousness through the fusion of activism, queer sensibility, and religion. Activist Megan Rohrer touches on the role of Glide Memorial Church in Vanguard’s history, and the radical, misfit spirit of expression infused in the pages of Vanguard Magazine. Intermixed with stories of queer youth basement dances, archival news coverage of historic demonstrations by Tenderloin’s residents, and oral history accounts of collective care and liberation, this episode finds hope and resistance in unexpected places.

This episode of Periodically Queer is produced by Umi Hsu and assistant-produced by Shei Yu; hosted by traci kato kiriyama; edited by Quincy Surasmith; scripted by Umi Hsu, Shei Yu, and Rozanna Leo-Fields; theme music by Analog Tara; episode music by Matthew Ivler, Umi Hsu, and Jacob Alden Sargent. Research by Sela Kerr. Copywriting by Sadie Buerker. Graphic Design by Saphir Davis and Maxwell Fong. Story consultation by Sayre Quevedo.

This episode contains the voices of Jeremy Sass, Adrian Ravarour, Larry Mamiya, Megan Rohrer, Joseph Plaster, Joel Roberts, and Mark Forrester. Special thanks to Joseph Plaster, Megan Rohrer, Jeremy Sass, ONE Archives at the USC Libraries, GLBT Historical Society, the Stanford Pride Oral History Project, Digital Transgender Archive, and ABC7 for providing research materials.

Periodically Queer is presented by One Institute.

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This Periodically Queer episode is made possible by a grant for the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs.

Image credits: banner image by One Institute; all other images, GLBT Historical Society and ONE Archives at the USC Libraries