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Virginia’s first queer film festival starts this week

An empty theater with red chairs in it. A projector is shining light toward the camera
Tima Miroshnichenko
While some mainstream films feature queer characters, more representation is beneficial according to Cathleen Rhodes, ODU's director of gay and cultural studies.

Read the original story on WHRO's website.

The first Virginia Queer Film Festival begins this week.

The inaugural series of independent films seeks to shed light on LGBTQ+ voices. They'll be shown Wednesday through Friday at Old Dominion University's Norfolk campus.

Eric Hause is one of the festival's organizers. The event was created to add value to the region's already thriving gay community.

“I looked around in Virginia and I did not see such an animal, and I thought what possible offering could we add here to an already vibrant queer community in Hampton Roads,” he said.

Major movies with queer characters, like Brokeback Mountain and Bros will not be festival features. Independently produced films, especially those that shed light on gay life in the South, will be prioritized.

Cathleen Rhodes, director of gay cultural studies at ODU, said representation in movies matters.

“When we don’t see a lot of LGBTQ+ people in mainstream films, it’s really limiting. So, a film festival like this gives us lots of opportunities to see LGBTQ+ people in lots of different scenarios and experiences,” Rhodes said.

Festival board member Tanya Kaish Keller said queer filmmakers are “sharing life experiences that need to be told,” especially in an era of increasing polarization. Many don’t get shown at local movie theaters.

One film that will be shown at the Virginia Queer Film Festival has direct ties to the region.

David McFarland was a star collegiate swimmer at Old Dominion University in the late 1970s who was also in the process of coming out as gay.

He’s returning to the area to share Alone in the Game, which presents the ongoing struggle that openly LGBTQ+ athletes face at the professional, collegiate and Olympic levels.

The Virginia Queer Film festival is being held at Old Dominion University June 14-16. More information is here.

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