The Pittsburgh LGBT Film Festival, ReelQ, is just around the corner, and I wanted to post my top six reasons to attend the annual film festival. I’ve been attending the festival since 1986 or 1987 and have enjoyed many wonderful movies and tremendous memories. If you have a reason you love the film festival I haven’t listed, how about add it as a comment below. These are in no particular order.

Mingle with a different crowd!

I would venture to say that most of us have busy lives and we go about our routines such that we are surrounded all the time by the same people. You go the gym regularly? I bet you see most of the same people over and over. Go to the bar? Same thing. Works the same way for so many of us. No matter where it is, you end up socializing and being around predominately the same people all of the time. The film festival provides an opportunity to change that in a big way. If you’ve never been, you are likely to see a diverse mix of folks for every film. Strike up a conversation and you will be amazed that you may have made a new friend who is outside of your routine.

Back when I was single, I once found a date by heading off to a film festival night alone. So, hey, you never know who you might meet!

Gain a new perspective.

Films, like most media present generally one perspective or viewpoint at least in terms of from each character’s viewpoint. For some films , flash and gimmick become more valued than story or meaning. But for many of the films you find at an LGBTQ film festival, this is less often the case, because they are often low budget labors of love by the filmmakers. These perspectives may be outside of your own perspective and provide you an avenue to consider something in a new way or see it as some others do. So you are invited to see and consider things anew.

Enlarge your world view.

Many films in a LGBTQ festival are foreign films , and even those which are not, often welcome you into a world much larger than you are generally exposed. These films invite you to see a bigger reality and leave enriched by that experience. For me, some of the most memorable films I’ve watched have been from the Middle East and offer a queer viewpoint that has no other entrance into my world view.

Learn something new.

LGBTQ film festivals have nights of film shorts, films that can range from a few minutes long to ten or so minutes. A night of these can be lots of fun. I always encourage gays to go see the women’s shorts and women to see the guy shorts. In both cases people get a chance to learn about people and ideas that are not a part of their regular world. Some gays and lesbians joke about how scary the other group is. This is old, stereotypical, and condescending, and if you fall into that trap, for sure go learn a few new things about people different than you. Bi characters and Trans lives are often portrayed in a film festival in ways missing within mainstream media. Go and learn about others within the whole of the LGBTQ community.

Laugh, cry, rinse and repeat.

Film festival films can be all over the map when it comes to emotion. Some movies will make you laugh, some cry, and some make you walk out of the theater shaking your head. And then the next night, you can do it again. I can’t think of another venue where you get such a range of experiences in one space

Support diverse artists and filmmakers.

We all know that Hollywood is big business, but even directors who make it there started someplace, and the support their earliest films received helped them succeed. Others are content to keep making labor of love films, and projects that are essential but will never find mainstream acceptance. All of these filmmakers need your support.

For example, I will never forget watching a black and white film Mala Noche, by Gus Van Sant, and most recently, He directed Milk. Film festival viewers help shape Hollywood

For more information:

The Pittsburgh Lesbian and Gay Film Society (PLGFS) is the presenting organization for the 29th Annual Pittsburgh International LGBT Film Festival, Reel Q. Since 1985, the festival has enjoyed providing the gay, lesbian, bisexual and the transgender community with a premier international film festival that helps serve the cultural needs of Pittsburgh and the surrounding tri-state area.

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