I am about to set off to volunteer yet again at Outfest, LA’s gay and lesbian film festival. If you’re in the LA area, you can still buy tickets for some great shows.
Over the years, as a Theater Manager, in many ways the ears of the festival, I have heard criticism of the films selected and even about the very idea of a gay film festival, now with the mainstreaming of gay individuals (e.g., Ellen DeGeneres and Neil Patrick Harris) and gay themes and with gay movies regularly selected by other festivals.
I have also heard much praise–how people wish the festival were longer. Or that it took place in the winter as well as the summer.
There is a spirit this festival has. I have found it easier to be openly Republican at Outfest than in perhaps any other gay endeavor in which I have participated (save, of course, gathering of our blog readers and meetings of Log Cabin). Some people do rib me for my politics, but in a friendly manner. Most accept me for who I am. And I am not the only right-of-center Theater Manager. Nor the only Republican supporter of this festival.
Something seems to happen at Outfest. A number of people notice this every year. It is one of those few places where you can really feel a gay community. Others notice that as well. When some suggest that there is no longer the same “need” for a gay film festival as there was at the first Outfest thirty years ago, I remind them of the sense of community we feel when this particular festival begins — and how many gay people look forward every year to that Thursday in July when we gather downtown at the Orpheum to celebrate our stories on celluloid.
FROM THE COMMENTS: Neptune wonders “if this is a place where you feel more of a ‘community’ because everyone in attendance has an interest in film? In other words, because no matter your politics, you are all there due to something you have in common? To me, that would be a primary drive of that community feeling.” Good point.