The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee…Family Graduations and vacations… there’s even National Accordion Awareness Month and National Iced Tea Month to toast! There is a lot to celebrate in June. It is also LGBT Pride Month, which opens up a whole closet-ful of activities for everyone to enjoy.
A short history lesson. Originally “Gay Pride Day” was held during the last Sunday in June, remembering the 1969 New York City Stonewall Riots, considered the watershed moment in the Gay Liberation Movement. Eventually it evolved into a month’s worth of parades, picnics, parties, historical displays and moving memorials that now attract millions of participants from all over the world.
If you’re like me and prefer a quieter way to reflect on LGBT history, I recommend checking out one of the many LGBT Film Festivals around the country. For those of you near the Nutmeg state, I give two thumbs up to Out Film CT organizers of the Connecticut Gay and Lesbian Film Festival (www.OutFilmCT.org) that is running through June 9 in Hartford.
This is an extra special run for them this year; the longest-running cinema festival in the state is turning 25 this year. One of the reasons for its success is Out Film CT Director Shane Engstrom, who has held his prestigious post since 2008.
He got involved with the festival twelve years ago when he came out and was looking for a gay social outlet. Being a huge indie film buff it was a perfect passion. (By day, for the past seven years he’s worked in Retail Administration for Webster Bank, and before that, Fleet/Bank of America.)
His favorite films this year? “ For me, it’s a toss up between “Gayby,” ”Time to Spare” and “Cloudburst.” Loved all three. In “Cloudburst,” Olympia Dukakis comes out with lines that would make your hair curl… what a mouth on her! And there’s that shirtless hitchhiker. ”Gayby” is just a lot of fun, and the acting is really excellent with some really sharp dialogue. ”Time to Spare” was a genuine surprise for me when I originally saw it. I’d never heard anything about the film, but it literally made me laugh and made me cry. Definitely the sleeper of the festival.”
As he reflects back on the LGBT history he’s helped make, what things come to mind? “For the first 3 years of the festival, they didn’t even watch the films before programming them! As opposed to today when we watch over 200 films over 10 months and end up selecting less than 25% of them to show in the festival itself… I don’t think people realize that we’re so selective!”
Congratulations to Shane and his incredible team of volunteers who are a special part of LGBT Pride Month to so many. Jenn and I celebrate YOU!
See you next blog,