Kids on the Street: Queer Kinship and Religion in San Francisco's Tenderloin

by Joseph Plaster
published by Duke University Press
February 2023    368 pages  ISBN#978-1-4780-1895-7 

In Kids on the Street Joseph Plaster explores the informal support networks that enabled abandoned and runaway queer youth to survive in tenderloin districts across the United States. Tracing the history of the downtown lodging house districts where marginally housed youth regularly lived beginning in the late 1800s, Plaster focuses on San Francisco’s Tenderloin from the 1950s to the present. He draws on archival, ethnographic, oral history, and public humanities research to outline the queer kinship networks, religious practices, performative storytelling, and migratory patterns that allowed these kids to foster social support and mutual aid. He shows how they collectively and creatively managed the social trauma they experienced, in part by building relationships with johns, bartenders, hotel managers, bouncers, and other vice district denizens. By highlighting a politics where the marginal position of street kids is the basis for a moral economy of reciprocity, Plaster excavates a history of queer life that has been overshadowed by major narratives of gay progress and pride.

Winner of the 2024 Randy Shilts Award for Gay Nonfiction, presented by The Publishing Triangle.


The Bay Area Reporter published this article by Laura Moreno about Kids on the Street on February 28, 2023:  https://www.ebar.com/story.php?ch=arts__culture&sc=books&id=323216

JP Der Boghossian interviewed Plaster on the podcast This Queer Book Saved My Life:

LGBTQ-RAN hosted this webinar about Kids on the Street with Joseph Plaster on June 15, 2023:


San Francisco | California | Trans activism | Youth | Broshears, Raymond | Itkin, Michael | Council on Religion and the Homosexual | Vanguard