Outfest is one of the biggest queer events in the United States, located in one of the biggest film hubs in the world. Since its beginning in 1979, the festival has grown into a powerful institution in LGBTQ+ life as well as in mainstream film. Outfest’s slogan says everything about its role in our culture: “Our Stories Have Power.”
In a world filled with stories that normalize the erasure and manipulation of queer narratives, movies and TV created by queer people can act as powerful antidotes. Stories are the conduits through which we understand the world; lessons that teach us how things are, how things should be, and how things could be. Especially for queer youth, a diversity of stories about what it means to be LGBTQ+ is critical to our collective wellbeing.
Although Hollywood has begun to embrace LGBTQ+ narratives, queer film festivals uplift the most authentic and innovative creations of queer artists. At a film festival like Outfest, narratives that are too progressive for mainstream media find a platform. And along with creating space for LGBTQ+ creators, queer film festivals build community and economy among queer-oriented people and groups.
They also contribute to changing standards in mainstream entertainment. Every year, films and series shown at Outfest are nominated for awards and distributed across the world. The spread of queer narratives through film works to push the boundaries of what is marketable to the general public.