Bellevue College celebrated its first annual Queer Film Festival last week. The festival was coordinated by the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Questioning/Queer Allies (LGBTQA) Resource Center and the Gay Straight Alliance (GSA) club, along with members from the Black Student Union (BSU) and other supporting clubs.
“We have needed this for a long time,” said Luis Sanchez, GSA member. “Film, if anything, is the most influential way to show people…in general this campus is still pretty conservative, but queer people do exist and attend school and we need people to know that.”
On the eve of the festival, members of the GSA held a meeting to hash out last minute logistics and divide up the advertisement materials, the amount of which was remarkable considering the GSA’s tiny allotted budget. Their efforts paid off: All around the campus hung posters on walls and bulletin boards, along with strategically placed sandwich boards.
A cornucopia of flyers, including the film schedule and feedback cards, were both passed out to students walking by, as well as neatly arranged in the N201viewing room.
How difficult was it to pull off the first Queer Film Festival? “There were a lot of challenges, but the feelings have always been very positive about bringing this to the campus,” said GSA member Dan Treiber.
Lori Saffin, advisor to the GSA, believes the club’s purpose in the festival is to “increase awareness, consciousness, and visibility of the queer.”
This is not going to be an easy task though, as Saffin explains some underlying issues. “Bellevue College reflects the larger society. Many students that come out are rejected from their family and friends. We are here and we’re a permanent part of this community.”
There have been a few discouraging incidents occurring on campus. Saffin says, “Many of our signs have been often times ripped off the bulletin boards.”
For participants in the LGBTQ Resource Center, a new development awarded center status only in the last year, the film is a first of many events they hope will solidify their presence on campus.
Students in the GSA have been planning the event since January, according to Saffin. “This is for the students, by the students,” she said.
The turn out for the screening of “Strawberries and Chocolate” was substantial.
Arnold Simekha attended the screening. Although he said he didn’t know what to make of it, he said the message of the movie was “very, very strong.” He said he was glad the college is presenting different viewpoint.
The film’s script said that 60 percent of men have had a homosexual experience. “I’m confused by it,” Simekha said.
Cynthia Simekha, on the other hand, said, “I liked it because it presents what is happening in our current society. When you’re with a gay person, you’re not [neccesarily] gay too. This movie was about friendship and nothing more. It’s cool to be who you are in this society.” she said.
The film festival was filled with discussion, debates, and brought a new way of thinking, or observation to the viewers.