LGBT festival provides queer representation

By Ellen J Rossow

It seems nowadays depictions of homosexuality are everywhere. With society slowly becoming more and more accepting of a once very taboo lifestyle, more people are openly identifying with the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community. Our televisions are flooded with shows openly depicting homosexuality, such as “Modern Family” or “Orange is the New Black.” While this is true and the acceptance is growing, the fight for homosexuality’s acceptance is ongoing.

While the inclusion of homosexual characters in television and movies is a step in the desired direction in this fight, Professor Raymond Rea, film studies, feels that depictions based on stereotypes and broad generalizations are difficult for LGBT community members to identify with.

Rea, director and founder of the FM LGBT Film Festival, understands the importance of being able to connect with the characters of a movie, so he founded the festival to allow LGBT community members a chance to do that.

The submission-based, juried festival offers audiences things they cannot find anywhere else. Not only are these films new and unable to be seen elsewhere, the characters found in the films are three-dimensional and not based solely on stereotypes.

“There really isn’t anything else like it here at this point,” Rea said.

Rea believes festivals like this one are responsible for a lot of the evolving inclusion of homosexuals in the media.

“There used to be basically no images for LGBT people to transpose themselves onto” Rea said. “Now there is a lot more.”

Rea’s festival is a part of a national and international circuit of festivals.

“This is a circuit that allows us LGBT people filmmakers to make work about our lives and some of that work seeps into the mainstream,” he said. “I’ve heard back from people in the community that this is something that’s needed.”

Molly Christenson, English literature and women and gender studies senior was formerly the president of the Gay-Straight Alliance, now called SPECTRUM. She agreed with Rea about the festival’s importance.

“I am such a strong supporter of those who seek to share other view points, such as with the LGBT film festival,” Christenson said. “The LGBT characters are so much more than generic characters or stereotypes.”

Rea and Christenson both believe that the LGBT Film Festival isn’t just for those who identify with the being LGBT.

“I really want to stress that you don’t have to be gay or bisexual or transgender to come,” Rea said. “It would be great if you came as a secure heterosexual person.”

Christenson and Rea both feel students of MSUM would really enjoy the festival.

“I think that any student who is open-minded, willing to learn from people and perspectives they likely have had little to no relation with in the past, or anyone who enjoys good movies and short films should attend,” Christenson said.

According to Rea, any film-lover will feel at home at the festival.

“To be honest, I think the main thing you’d want to come to the festival for is just to see a film you can’t see anywhere else,” he said.

The FM LGBT Film Festival is this Friday and Saturday Sept. 12 and 13. There are three sessions, each with their own unique content. Tickets to each session are five dollars, or a festival pass is $13. The festival will be held at the Fargo Theatre in Downtown Fargo and is promised to be a fun and interesting experience for all.  Interested individuals can find more information about the festival at facebook.com/FMLGBTFF or fmlgbtff.com.

“The audience always really has a good time,” Rea said. “Branch out. Come on out and see something you normally wouldn’t see.“

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