By Alex Wyche
Gay people are not hard to find in Seattle, but the backbone of gay culture is. In recent years, many icons have closed down: the local gay bookstore, the gay & lesbian community center, and the lesbian resource center. Pride has moved out of the neighborhood and the Lesbian Archives moved to Tacoma. So where is the heartbeat?
For me, the heartbeat is with the Seattle Lesbian & Gay Film Festival. Not simply for the 10 glorious Fall days of the festival, but also for the free outdoor summer movies in Cal Anderson park, sing-alongs, parties and previews all throughout the year.
Why is gay culture so important? We’re well integrated, decently tolerated and protected here in Seattle. Existence, however, is not living. It’s important for people of any color, sexuality or origin to see themselves reflected in culture like movies, books, and music; otherwise we begin to feel isolated, ghostly.
The festival is the antithesis of all that: being surrounded by people with whom you share a common bond, all excited and happy. Surrounded by hundreds of others laughing at the same jokes, groaning in shared recognition, it is all an incredible high. Pulling all of this off? That, my friend, is ambrosia.
When I first began volunteering, I had no idea what to expect. I started by handing out passes at will-call and chatting with people about films they wanted to see. I moved on to sell hot popcorn at the summer movies. The smell of hot buttery popcorn brings people to our area of the park, and they stay for films like “Flash Gordon” and “Desperately Seeking Susan”.
Last year, while greeting people at the door of the Egyptian, I caught a curvy young woman in high heels tripping down the stairs and beginning to fall. I’ve experienced the romance of lifting a film out of the box, reel by reel. I’ve made lasting friends with fellow volunteers and even met some dates. The festival has enriched my life with new experiences.
If you’re tired of meeting people in bars, or being fixed up by your friends, or even if you just need a break from the quiet anguish of political activism, volunteer with us this year. The positions are endless and you can enjoy the festival at the same time. I guarantee there’s nothing else like it.