Reasons to Have Pride in 2012, Part 1

We came out, we saw ourselves in media, and we conquered hearts and minds in the last year. From major wins to small victories, here is the first of four parts of 181 reasons to feel proud of not being straight and narrow.

BY Advocate Contributors

May 15 2012 5:00 AM ET

CHAZ BONO OUTFEST X633 | ADVOCATE.COM

Because Outfest is more than a film festival

For three decades Outfest, the Los Angeles–based nonprofit organization dedicated to nurturing, showcasing, and protecting LGBT media, has created a vibrant community. Each year thousands of people convene in L.A. — this year it’s July 12–22 — to celebrate the rich diversity of LGBT lives.

“Audience members often tell me how much an Outfest film changed them,” says executive director Kirsten Schaffer. Among them is Chaz Bono (pictured), who in 2009 revealed the festival played a significant role in his decision to transition.

Filmmakers have also seen their careers skyrocket after Outfest screenings. Among them, Dustin Lance Black met producers Dan Jinks and Bruce Cohen at an Outfest event and pitched them his Milk screenplay. Gus Van Sant, who screened his first feature, Mala Noche, at the fest, took the occasion of receiving the Outfest Achievement Award to share, “My career comes from this festival.”

Outfest continues to evolve through partnerships. In March it announced a merger with NewFest, New York’s premier LGBT film festival, to help expand its year-round programming. Through the Outfest Legacy Project for LGBT Film Preservation, which is a partnership with the UCLA Film and Television Archive, the organization has preserved more than 18,000 stories and images. “We are creating lasting cultural change,” Schaffer says. “At the heart of this organization, we are strengthening the LGBT community and working to end homophobia.”

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