Sunday, March 25, 2012


It's the first day back in St. Paul and the disparities between the past week and my normal routine are already creeping up. There was something majestic about San Francisco: its constant noise, its vivacious people, and its flagrant diversity. While the Cities offer all of that, coming back to the slightly quieter Midway neighborhood has been both calming and disjointing. Even though we just returned, reflecting on the last days of the trip is already a challenge.

This blog has been a great tool for exploring our respective experiences as members of Queer in the Community; it has also served the same purpose as a diary. All of my posts, at least, are tinged with either euphoria or a form of despair, reading them over its easy to see when I was in a particular mood or mindset. I tried to avoid posting during the final portion of the trip simply because those emotions were only going to be hyperbolized-especially the final day. Returning to St. Paul I've already had to summarize a weeks worth of growth into a single sentence, or if I'm lucky, a paragraph. So, for what may be my final post, I want to attempt to do that in a forum where I feel most comfortable and collected. Singling out even one profound thought is a challenge, so bear with me.

There's so much that each of us have taken from this trip, to the extent that even attempting to provide a collective commentary would be intrusive and rude. For me this trip reaffirmed and reinvigorated a lot of my beliefs, my identity, etc.; it also completely redefined certain elements. I've never been one to talk in a conversation unless directly addressed or infuriated to the point of outburst. It's something that was noted in a lot of the affirmations I received (all of which made cry, so thanks for that) and also a little bit on the trip. I don't enjoy talking just to talk, or furthering a dialogue unless I feel like my contributions are warranted. While that won't change, this trip forced me to recognize that my silence sometimes isn't productive. It lets me be comfortable where I should be challenged.

Every speaker, site, and situation we encountered on this trip emerged from individuals voicing their opinions, often in uncomfortable or potentially controversial settings. Queer history is saturated with stories of fortitude and bravery in the face of radical oppression and discrimination; it is a compilation of individual action that motorized a community. While that has always been evident to me from an intellectual standpoint, listening to Beth, Jason, Zoey, and many others divulge their personal histories to us completely reconstructed how I understand any history. The handful of individuals we met and conversed with are activists that have devoted their lives to divulging their stories and their passions essentially to complete strangers, and my inability to even expose my thoughts to peers or friends seems completely complacent in comparison.

This has turned into a monster post mostly because I can't summarize what this trip has done with words. I feel so connected to this group: these eleven fantastic people have all molded, melded, and meshed individually and collectively in such a short period of time. I may be leaving this trip relatively the same, but my comprehension of participation has altered dramatically. My privilege makes me ignorant in many scenarios, but the solution isn't always silence and listening. Each of us has the ability to make a tremendous impact and San Francisco reaffirmed that somewhat idealistic reality.

Until next time.


Saturday, March 24, 2012


So our time is up in San Francisco. We're waiting our flight to take us back to MSP; people are reading and playing cards and eating; and I can't help but feel grateful for my experience as a leader on this trip (TWICE, incredibly).

Notably, these next few days are typically the time that melancholy sets in. We've had seven days of incredible service, learning, reflection, and honesty in this beautiful city. We've lived in the Tenderloin, visited the Mission, Castro, Noe Valley, and Fisherman's Wharf. The organizations we worked with: Project Open Hand, PAWS, GLIDE, SF Women Against Rape, San Francisco Food Bank, and the LGBT History Museum--the people we've spoken to: Jason Villalobos, Beth Pickens, Alan Gutirrez, and Tommy Dillon, have permanently changed our outlook on the queer community, on service, on each other.

There's no other way to say it. We've changed irrevocably. You've heard of the idea that you can never step in the same river twice--that's how this trip makes me feel. The feelings I had after I left last year and before I left this year were a precursor for how I feel now.

And that's recharged.

We all need to be recharged every now and then in order to keep going, especially in the nonprofit world. Burnout is such a serious issue. We say we can take on more--we can do this--a few extra hours a night won't make us any more tired. But that's a lie.

I'm grateful that this experience has been a break from life at Hamline. I know now that I can go back to my life in Minnesota with a renewed sense of purpose about the work I do--for the second time.

To San Francisco: thank you, again.
To my co-leader, Savannah: you rock.
To my group this year and last: you make me see things about myself that make me a better person.
To Hamline: keep making these trips happen--students need opportunities like this. Service is such an integral of the Piper experience, and no student should graduate without experiencing another city through the eyes of service.

Lastly, to you, the readers: keep doing, questioning, growing, reading! Please ask me more about this trip if you're interested in going one day!

In love,

Taking a Moment

Writing is pubic spaces like this isn't something I often do so I'm going to pretend that I'm writing in my journal and that people wont be reading this. (It'll give me peace of mind) :) One of the hardest parts of this trip for me was seeing the homelessness everywhere and feeling completely powerless to help any of the people we came across. In Minnesota I know that we have homeless people but I have never had direct interactions with them or been approached by them. It's very different here. There are so many different people that you see and meet on the streets. And while I know that the service that we did is helping the greater community I couldn't help but feel helpless in the sense that I couldn't help each individual person. People just walk by without even acknowledging that these people on the street exist. THEY ARE HUMAN BEINGS JUST LIKE YOU AND ME. I can't walk by as someone is taking to me and not make eye contact and give a smile and spare some change if I have it on me. I think that realizing that there is a much larger world out there than the comfort of my "small" Minnesota, has been really conflicting for me. I love that the world is so big and that I will go through countless experiences good and bad, but now that it has been screaming if my face I can't ignore that there are still a lot of things about this world that need help and involvement. This fire that I have inside for helping people has only grown stronger and I know when I get back I'll find new ways of helping, ways that I know I will be able to do some good with. I think if we all took the time to step out of our day to day lives and see how much is going on around us and how we can contribute, we would start to see some really great positive changes. :) Karissa

Mr. Buckland

On our way to the doughnut store, we met a man by the last name of Buckland. He asked for some change or a cigarette. We gave him both. He said we were the first group of people that stopped for him. He asked us where we were from and he chuckled and replied "oh Minnesoooooooota!" He told us about some of his family history from Norway and how they used to live in Minnesota. He just really seemed like he needed someone to talk to, or just listen. We said goodbye and wondered into the doughnut place just around the corner. He came in a few minutes later and attempted to purchase something but seemed to leave with nothing. The owner was rude to him. Gabby and I bought him a doughnut and brought it outside to him. He accepted it, thanked us and said he tried to buy a cup of coffee with the money we'd given him earlier but he was short 13 cents. Gabby gave him a couple more quarters to buy the coffee. We went back inside, finished our food and started to leave. As we left he went in and purchased the coffee. I left feeling great, and that every stereotype I had of a homeless person was destroyed. He didn't harass us when he asked for money, he was polite. He didn't keep begging for more, he was grateful. He didn't spend the money on drugs or alcohol, he bought coffee. He wasn't crazy, he made conversation. He wasn't rude, he thanked us multiple times. After the earlier bus incident, this was an extremely lifting experience, and one that I will not soon forget.



Yesterday we visited Grace Cathedral; a LGBT inclusive church. We met with Tommy who is a gay priest at St. Aidan's church here in San Francisco. I was initially nervous because I haven't had the best relationship with religion in the past. For this reason I tend to shy away from religion. As a women's studies major I hear about the oppressive side of religion as an institution. I want to make the distinction between religion in itself and how people have interpreted religion and used it to oppress others hence the institution aspect. Traditionally religion as an institution has been an oppressive force in the lives of women and other marginalized groups. The church often relies heavily on traditional gender roles which limits the opportunities for many people. I have first hand seen religion at its worst which has affected how I see religion as a whole. For this reason, religion makes me nervous and uncomfortable. This is why I was apprehensive to visit a church here.

Upon arriving to the church we were invited to partake in their morning worship service. I was reluctant at first but decided to immerse myself in the experience. It was not a life changing moment for me and I was slightly relieved when it was over but appreciated it for what it was. Once again, I was unable to separate my past from the present. Talking to Tommy relieved many of these feelings. He told us a little more about the church and what it does for the community and LGBT individuals. It is a church that is very progressive and inclusive. They have a strong relationship with LGBT organizations, including but not limited to numerous drag performers. They provide meals and support for the homeless population here and provide a safe and supportive space for all individuals. I found this incredibly inspiring since so many people have seen the horrible side of the church in their treatment of LGBT individuals. It made me think that it is indeed possible to merge the two communities and form a long lasting alliance and support system. Above all I could see that Tommy really loves what he does. He comes from the South and was very traditional at the start but once he moved here he realized that things can change and that all people are worthy of love, compassion, and understanding. It was based on love for all humankind and I find that so inspiring and worthy of praise. Although I still have my bias, this experience has opened my mind to new possibilities.


Thursday, March 22, 2012

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Having an open heart

I feel like the purpose of the catalyst program is to challenge you not only physically through volunteering, but also mentally as you grow into who you are as a person and as a force of change. Throughout high school I was always actively involved in my community and school through the volunteering that I did. I was known as the girl that had done everything and was voted that I would make a impact on the world someday. I have wanted to be a force of change in the world that I live in and always will. However, I have been lost for sometime on how to get involved in the community since I went to college. I am originally from Washington state, where I knew everywhere that I could volunteer at and has numerous connections to various organizations. Moving to Minnesota changed all that and put me at a loss for what I can do. I have spent the majority of the year, not being as active as I wanted and it took this trip to make me realize that volunteering is and will always be one of my passions, and that I need to work had to make those volunteering chances available to me.
Today we worked at project open hand and honestly I have never felt so comfortable. I wanted to cry when their volunteer coordinator told me of how much love they put into their food and the service that they do. What hit home to me was that they give people birthday cakes and homemade cards to people for their birthday so that they know someone out there cares for them. Even though I was packaging various types of meat, I still had a great time. I had so much fun, and I did not even do any tourist activities. Volunteering warms your heart and fills you with so much happiness that you cannot get anywhere else. I was having an amazing day at open hand and then at the SF food bank until I had money stolen from me. It is hard to explain how this made me feel, I felt defiled and invaded. Even though all they took was material items, they still invaded my privacy and me. To not be too overcome with being mad, I focused on all the good that we did and the people that we met. Despite any challenges that I may face what is important is not the material items that you have but the relationships and the connections that you have with people. We have to be open in our lives to be able to truly experience growth.


Spare Change

"Do you have any spare change?" That's been a commonly asked question these past few days. Don't worry, I've been answering you honestly; I have no cash or change. I do, however, have a credit card. I keep it in my leather wallet right next to my giftcard to the local coffeeshop and my medical card. If you have a moment of spare time or don't mind waiting I could run across the street to the ATM and withdraw some money for you. Well, actually that's not my bank's ATM so I'll be charged a service fee that I'd rather avoid. No, I don't have a cigarette that I could give you either. You see, I've avoided that addiction. I live a relatively healthy life. I go to the gym several times a week, I avoid the pizza option in my school's dining hall and go for the fruit instead, even if it is sometimes a little too mushy for my liking. I cried for you the other night though, I hope that helps. I realize that even if I bottled up those tears you couldn't pass them off as currency at the convenience store. My now damp pillowcase probably won't satisfy your hunger. The folks at the place I'm staying will take it away and bring me a fresh one soon anyway.

The truth is, I avoid you on the street like a puddle; walk around you so as to not soil my shoes. I saw a lone, orange flower growing out of the sidewalk the other day and it reminded me of you. I contemplated plucking it to bring home and put in a glass of water so that it may wither in peace, but I left it there.


It's a beautiful morning...

As I write this, the cloud cover over our hostel and the bay area is gorgeous. The clouds are perfectly plump,and have just a hint of sunlight in them. I love when that happens - it makes mornings all the better for me.
After yesterday, meeting the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, and walking around the Mission, handing out flyers for the Walk Against Rape next month, I really felt that we were starting to be absorbed in this new territory of queerness. But there is so much work left to be done - I can't truly grasp it. Because it's not just here, or in St. Paul - it's everywhere. Queerness as an identity is constantly being challenged by heteronormative culture, and homelessness is not just an issue when it comes to San Francisco. These are two of the huge issues that we're encountering - and though it gives me hope to see the different activists and groups working for change, it also disheartens me to realize that I'll be going back to a place where I have been taught to be ashamed of the fact that I think sex is normal and healthy. We've walked past and been into so many different porn shops in the Castro; and Good Vibrations in the Mission (which I love - a feminist erotica shop with healthy takes on sex, a clean store, and really obviously welcoming and supportive atmosphere); and I don't even know where these shops are in St. Paul and Minneapolis - nor would I be able to just walk into them without feeling like everyone who saw me walk in would be silently judging me. Which sucks, and is really stupid - and I know that I'm going to try to get past that, and just accept it and work harder to challenge that stupid idea that sex should be hidden in people's closets and under the mattresses.

But again, these issues are just the beginning. It's going to be overwhelming coming back with all of this information.



Kristen Berry- 3/20/2012
This trip so far has truly been eye-opening. I can honestly say that the knowledge that I have gained here can only be experienced and learned in San Francisco. I came into this experience having zero knowledge about anything concerning LGBT issues; I grew up in a pretty homophobic atmosphere, so I never felt as though I could ask anything about it. This was not because my parents were unsupportive of the cause, they are supportive, it was just a topic that was not mentioned and my school environment was very unaccepting of people that were different than the stereotypical norms. I wanted to go from someone that knew nothing about the issues that LGBT people were facing besides mearly discrimination, to someone that was educated and inspired to take part in the action against these issues that they face. To be completely honest, all the things that we have been experiencing can be overwhelming for me because I do not know about everything and I feel hurt that people could be that mean to people they do not know or have known for a long time. This hit home as we talked with Jason yesterday and he mentioned that once he came out to his parents that he was gay and had AIDS they sort of shunned him. I just felt extremely lucky for the supportive parents that I do have, and how I would never want anyone or my child to feel that pain. We should be able to be who we are and not have to hide our true selves. So far I have learned how truly hard the LGBT community has been fighting to get the right to just be themselves, and that people need to learn compassion and acceptance. San Francisco has ignited a new flame in me to work harder and strive to make a difference with my life, even if it is in a small way.


Upon my arrival to San Francisco, I had very unique expectations of what I was going to encounter. A 60’s songs about wearing flowers in your hair only encouraged me to see an idealistic view of a city full of historical references of being a haven of rebels and outcasts.
This city has indeed meet my expectations, actually, far exceeded them thus far.
I did not find flowers in anyone’s hair, but I have met gentle people here. I saw a gay couple holding hands at a coffee shop, and I heard poetry from a man on the streets. I met a man who fought for his life living with AIDS. I even met a Buddhist nun, who gave me a Hershey kiss after showing me the dharma.
I am mostly trying to sort through all my emotions at this moment. I have felt a bit angry and often times frustrated with the information that is being presented before me. I can only see the statistics of hate and oppression that have made San Francisco fight for their rights. It was never handed over. The queer in San Francisco have fought for more than their “gay Mecca”, they died for it.
I don’t understand why the rejected gay youth flocks to San Francisco, only to find themselves on the streets, only to find that the Castro may be one of the only places where they are celebrated for their identity as human beings. What is it so radical to love someone of the same sex?
I figured this trip would raise these questions, however, now I have a face to these issues. I have met the face of AIDS, suffering, oppression and violence because I have heard a testimony of the city.
I have found the organizations in the community are fighting strong for equality. It is empowering. I hope to bring this back to Minnesota with me.
If there is any way I could sum up my first blog entry, it would be by saying a few rambling last thoughts.
1. I am glad to be uncomfortable with the way society constructed gender
2. Identity is not fixed
3. I don’t find rebellion in this cause, I only find a struggle for justice and equality
4. I wish I could do more
5. I am so tired and overwhelmed
6. This is another reason why I study religion
7. I wonder when the whistles will stop blowing
8. I wonder when love can be free
9. I wonder how we can fight oppression when homelessness is a huge part
10. I wonder when queer youth will stop committing suicide because of bullies
11. I can’t really sleep tonight
12. I wonder what my grandparents will say when I tell them I met a nun in drag
13. I wonder what my dad will say when I tell him his idea of equal rights as a civil union is not equality
14. I wonder what I will say when I get back to Hamline and everyone has come back from spring break, and all I can say is “I wonder, I hope, I saw and I want to change… “Ah hey,
What are you doing over your spring break?



Everyone in San Francisco is crazy. This is a city full of gorgeous beautiful women. This is a Freudian slip (I am writing, longing for a beautiful girl in St. Paul). I mean beautiful lunatics. There is a tangible sense of chaos and revolution; serpentine streets roll up and down like the back of some mythic ocean beast, the houses tilt crazily, are tattoos by the souls of residents living and dead; public transportation is a motley collection of colorful immigrants, trolleys from San Diego Boston and even Milan, all of which have only two speeds, a frantic, jolting breakneck pace through narrow streets and a shuddering stop that has, with its sense of relief, of release, of arrival, connotations of orgasm. This is a city swamped with hidden languages, one of which is sex, and they soak into the gaps in cement and in cracks souls until everything is a metaphor. If you are alarmed, dear Reader, it is only because San Francisco is a run-on sentence of a city that one can only describe with breathless, overflowing enthusiasm.
But in a city ruled by freaks, hierarchies remain, albeit in different flavors from Midwest brand of bigotry we know and love (or love to hate). There is queer power, yes, but the face of sexual liberation is queerly monolithic, monochrome, and even monotonous. Desire, in the people, the posters, the shops on every corner, is rooted in novelty, in the shock value of foot long dildos and plastic ball gags. The gleeful display of aggressive phallic energy seems, to a watchful observer, like a compensation for something; it feeds off of a sense of shame, since it is only by assuming these desires are shameful that flaunting them becomes so provocative. The sexuality seeps through the streets like the melting toxic plastic of cheap sex toys, and its name is capitalism, commodity, economy.
Isn’t sexual liberation supposed to be organic, isn’t queerness making room for real people and feelings, even (especially) when these are complicated? Why does it seem like they’ve taken one image, the token transgression of male homosexuality, and plastered it over everything along with the ubiquitous penis?
As much as I love the city, and the flamboyant, beautiful, passionate gay men that live here, I feel suffocated and terrified by this cannibalistic desire that blots out all other visions of queerness.


Tuesday, March 20, 2012

A Hard Day's Night

I am overwhelmed to say the least. So here we go... By far the moments I have felt most connected with this city have been talking to the many wonderful individuals we have met with thus far. The most important aspect I have taken away from these conversations have been around intersectionality. I couldn't help but feel walking through the Castro that it was apparently a very white, gay male oriented area. This was discouraging to say the least. I am not claiming that it isn't an important area that continues to be a central force of queer rights but the feeling was that of slight exclusion of those that don't fit the prescribed identity. Another issue I've been struggling with is that although the focus is on queer issues, I can't help but feel more affected by the large homeless population here. I kept searching for ways in which these two themes crossed paths.

This feeling was eased slightly today when we went to talk with the San Francisco Women Against Rape at the Women's Center in the Mission. At one point she said that in order to end rape we have to end all forms of discrimination and oppression -- racism, sexism, classism, ableism, homophobia, transphobia, etc. This is what I've been waiting for. As someone who identifies as a feminist and is personally, academically, and professionally working for women's rights I am constantly aware of how identities intersect. It was brought to my attention once again that many queer youth who are kicked out of their homes or flee from abuse come to San Francisco looking for acceptance and community, and often end up as drug users and/or homeless. We have met so many people who are working towards spreading awareness and doing all they can to help people in need, in this case in relation to the queer community.

The Women's Center brought that aspect of service to a larger population. I really connected with the work they do since I am an intern at the Minnesota Women's Building and am passionate about many of the same issues they deal with. What I found really inspiring is that since they are located in an area that predominately serves people of color, they make sure the majority of their employees and volunteers are also people of color. She mentioned that working in a rape crisis center, its important that the clients that come in see someone that they can relate to and that has had similar life experiences. Aside from this, they provide a lot of services for families and in particular low-income families.

It's easy to get swept up in one issue and a one-sided identity but we all have to realize that not everyone has the same experiences and not every solution will work for everyone in need. Our identities all intersect with one another to form unique experiences, viewpoints, and lifestyles. It's frustrating at times, and easy to overlook but I feel fortunate to have met some amazing people that have brought all of these identities together and have acknowledge that they overlap and intersect.


Day 4

I feel like I should start off by redacting a lot of what I said in my last post; after talking to Jason Villalobos, an incredible HIV/AIDS activist and speaker, there was this unexpected and needed surge of commitment to this trip. As an "unconventional lecturer" he spoke predominantly from his own experiences and it ended up being an incredibly moving and motivational reminder that simple, individual acts make an impact. That being said, a lot of today was tinged with this feeling of...I guess the best word would be ineptitude.

A lot of this stems from the fact that this is the first half hour of the day back at the hostel-I'm exhausted. Traipsing around Noa Valley distributing flyers for SFWAR (San Francisco Women Against Rape)'s Walk To End Rape, getting lost trying to finagle our way back to the three or four streets we know, and then settling back in the Castro for a few hours waiting to meet with the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence has proved to be quite the adventure. The Sisters proved to be intriguing, particularly their stance on religion and spirituality in their work. For those unfamiliar with The Sisters here is their website: The group is quite obviously controversial for religious institutions-particularly the Catholic Church. They are "queer nuns" who serve much of the same form and function that conventional nuns do: they are activists, advocates, and altruists who work particularly in the queer community.

Originally we were supposed to help them construct safe sex kits, but that fell through and instead we had a dialogue with them about their organization, particularly its origination. What really struck me during the presentation/discussion was the discourse surrounding religion. As a Religion major with a focus on inter-faith dialogue the comments regarding religion from the Sisters were a little jarring. Obviously as a heterosexual, white female my opinions can be, as a speaker earlier in the week stated, "unnecessary," but this topic is one that I'm devoting my life to exploring. The Sisters are angry at the Church, but not religion. The general consensus (again, skewed by the fact that we only spoke to a couple of the Sisters) was that spiritual or religious sentiments were not outside of the Sister's mission; they are nuns, serving and fostering their community in the same manner that others do. The Church, however, is viewed as an ignorant, unfavorable institution. That is completely justified and a lot of my personal views coincide with that viewpoint, but my consternation comes from the fact that I still think the rift between Church and identity can be reconciled. I, in essence, need the possibility of that rectification in order to maintain my faith in humankind. Talking to the Sisters sort of reignited that sense of disconnect between possibility and practice.

Today was also filled with so many wonderful moments (a particularly phenomenal one in a Midwife Center a woman invited me in and told me it was "estrogen central" so of course) I could hang up my flyers), but I feel like my blog posts always fixate on my rambling attempts to understand my own thoughts. Hopefully the underlying optimism and excitement of this trip is seeping through, at least slightly.


---Also no one is lying about San Francisco's treacherous hills. My calves feel like steel.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Queer Community Day 3

There's no adequate place to even begin talking about this trip; San Francisco is an incredible city and my initial interactions with it have been enthralling, overwhelming, and enlightening. Perhaps the best place to start is to say that it is completely foreign to be in a city (or at least portions of it) where Queer issues are openly discussed and consciously celebrated. Exploration of the Castro, Mission street, and the Tenderloin has unveiled different dimensions of a city that is unquestionably unique. We're just beginning our service portion of the trip, spending most of the day packaging Cranberry seeds at the San Francisco Food Bank, but the edification began the second we all hopped off the plane. This place has induced some form of either reflection or culture shock for each of us (or at least that is the impression I've gotten from our conversations, group reflections, etc.). San Francisco is incredibly diverse and the different districts we've gotten to slightly discover have outlined the huge disparities in income, acceptance, and tolerance not only of Queer issues, but a host of others.

The biggest challenge I've had so far is kind of hard to articulate. We've been exposed to individuals, districts, and organizations that are incredibly inclusive to Queer issues, but there has almost been a heavier presence of a financial and cultural disconnect both within and outside of that population. This popped up in our discussions of Castro street-a heavily gentrified, predominantly gay/queer male, and outlandishly historical district in San Francisco. Having only been exposed to the area in scenes from Milk, my expectations were already irrevocably skewed. Actually exploring the area unearthed an extremely different vibe than the one I acquired from traipsing around the Tenderloin or Mission street. I didn't get a sense of history there, at least the kind that wasn't pre-packaged for consumption by ambivalent tourists. That may not make a ton of sense, so perhaps the most succinct way to describe my reaction is to say that as an obvious tourist with a camera dangling from my neck, dressed down in an ugly sweater and jeans, I felt ill-equipped to be roaming the area. It was a similar reaction to impromptu trips to Uptown in Minneapolis: I wasn't uncomfortable, I just didn't feel the connection I was expecting. Our brief visit to Mission street and our somewhat sporadic walk around the Tenderloin, however, proved to fill that void.

This has been a good lesson to not wait three days before doing a blog post; my mind is fried and my feet hurt so the observations aren't coming as rapidly as this post demands. So far this has been a fascinating experience with some stellar individuals who appreciate outlandish use of a camera (which is always good for me). Every part of this city has a different feel and community, and getting to discern and discuss the differences with an incredible, intelligent group of people who care about Queer issues has been so refreshing. Now it's time to add 272 photos to the album already approaching 500.


Sunday, March 18, 2012

Castro Rooftops

Hello all :) We've just come back from our first day in San Francisco, and I didn't realize how windy it would be! It's sunny and beautiful, and we were able to do some sightseeing around the Castro. For those of you who are not familiar with the Castro, it's a greet neighborhood, with a strong background of transgender issues, and is very historically male. It's been changed quite a bit since the heyday of Harvey Milk in the 1970s, (his apartment and camera store are now the HRC store), but it's still vry interesting. The shops around Castro st. are varied - but we went into a couple of erotica's shops - and some of novelties were shocking, some were extremely entertaining ... we also toured the glbt history museum, which was very cool, and talked to Beth Pickens, a grant writer who works with Sister Spit, about the history of San Francisco, and that was wonderful. The penultimate excursion we went on was a trip up to Allan's roof - our guide who took us through the glbt history museum, and let us use his home to speak with Beth.

All in all, I enjoyed today- but I'm excited to get to work!

~ Savannah

We're Back in San Francisco

Friends, Family, and Readers –

As I'm sure you're all aware, the HU Catalyst: Queer in the Community group is back in San Francisco.

To be honest, it all feels a bit surreal to me. I was here, in this same hostel, typing away, one year ago. On one hand, I'm incredibly grateful and appreciative to be back in this gorgeous (and it really is, people–please make your way over here as soon as you can) city. On the other, I'm incredibly nervous: can I give the same experience that last year's group had to this year's? We're meeting a ton of new volunteer sites and activists, so the tenor of the trip has changed already. I can feel it.

Anyway, we are off to see the Castro today, take a tour of the LGBT History Museum, and have a discussion with a queer grant writer–which means I need breakfast! I am so looking forward to giving myself to this amazing experience.

Keep reading! Pictures and stories to come : )