Queer Stories on the Screen

In 2018, GLAAD, a gay and transgender media advocacy group, called for Hollywood to have 20% of annual film releases include an LGBT or gender-fluid character by 2021. While the film industry had to navigate a pandemic through all of 2020, leading to shows and movie productions being canceled or premieres being postponed, one thing that has moved forward is the importance of diversity.

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COMING UP IN 2021

Some of the upcoming titles to look out for are Marvel’s “The Eternals,”which will feature its first gay superhero, Phastos, a cosmic-powered inventor played by Brian Tyree Henry. Seeing how important superheroes have been to this generation, with movies like “Wonder Woman” and “Black Panther” proving that the notions Hollywood has had about women and people of color are not ideals held by global viewers, this is an exciting inclusion of queer culture into this space.

Benedetta,” based on the book, “Immodest Acts” by Judith Brown, tells the story of Benedetta Carlini, a lesbian Catholic nun facing trouble because of her sexual orientation in the 17th century. This film has been long awaited since 2018 when the announcement of the film was first made by director and co-writer, Paul Verhoeven. While the film was originally set to premiere in 2020, it was rescheduled for release at the 2021 Cannes Film Festival in May 2021. The film will feature French stars, such as Virginie Efira in the role of Benedetta, and is being considered for the highest awarded prize in the film festival, the Palme d’Or award.

To our home screens, the second season of “Love, Victor,”a series spin-off from the movie, “Love, Simon,” depicts the life of a Latinx teenager navigating the dilemma of being at a new high school and exploring his sexual orientation. This series is set to come back this year to Hulu.

While the future of film showings in theaters continue to be determined, we can rest assure that queer voices will be heard and seen in 2021.

NYC REVELS IN ITS HERALDED QUEER LEGACY

NewFest is the largest presenter of LGBTQ+ film and media in New York. Founded in 1988, its mission is to give voice and visibility to the full scope of the LGBTQ+ experience, and even through the pandemic it has done just that.

In October of 2020, NewFest held its first-ever virtual, New York LGBTQ+ Film Festival, featuring more than 120 queer films online and select drive-in experiences. The event featured on-demand movies that could be watched from anywhere in the country, and recorded introductions to films in front of historic LGBTQ+ sites. No matter where you were watching from, it still captured the energy of NYC and the queer legacy that exists there.

“This year’s festival was really built for this unique moment and provided an opportunity for LGBTQ folks throughout the country to connect around queer stories and the issues that impact us,” says Executive Director David Hatkoff. “We also wanted to acknowledge and celebrate our community’s history, as well as shine a spotlight on queer gathering spaces, community organizations, and LGBTQ-owned business that have been impacted by the pandemic.”

Despite other festivals having to cancel their events, NewFest doubled down and ended up attracting twice as many attendees as the previous year. As David adds, “Queer stories will not be silenced.”

MIAMI’S CELEBRATION OF FILM, FOOD, ARTS, AND MORE

While major Hollywood box offices are getting with the times, local organizations have been embracing and celebrating queer films and filmmakers through their own festivals.

Gay8 “Gay Ocho” Festival, now in its sixth year, is a three-day weekend event hosted in Miami, Florida, by 4Ward Miami, a non-profit organization connecting many of South Florida’s diverse communities and providing inclusion for the LGBTQI community. The festival not only celebrates LGBTQ Hispanic/Latino/Latinx films but also music, art, food, and dance held in historic parts of town that are facing gentrification.

Damian Pardo, the organization’s co-founder, explains: “We are creating an educational and inspirational avenue moving our South Florida community forward by accomplishing our goal to promote LGBTQI diversity and inclusivity, economic status and civil rights on a local, state-wide and international platform.”

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