On behalf of the Board, Staff, and Volunteers, welcome to the 33rd Annual Tampa Bay International Gay & Lesbian Fim Festival.
The Festival was founded in 1989. A time in which it was illegal for us to marry. When we could be thrown out of the military, be fired from our jobs for simply existing. A time in which we didn’t exist in history or in the stories of the day, and a time in which gay rights ordinances were repealed by voters in Irvine, California, and cities around the country–and even our own Hillsborough County a few years later. A time when being out and proud was a risk with repercussions. Attending the Festival allowed you to be empowered and let people know you exist, and you matter.
Today we live in a time where it is not OK to say “gay”: where a sitting Justice of the Supreme Court thinks we should revisit United States v. Windsor which legalized same sex marriage. We live in a time where once again we face the possibility of being erased.
Entertain, Empower, and Enlighten are the core words of our mission. The films we show entertain us; the documentaries we watch enlighten us; and attending the festival empowers us. It empowers us because attending the festival was and still is a political act meant to let others know we exist, we have stories, we matter, and we are a community.
We as a community must take a stand, must make a political action to make sure we are noticed. Today you must make sure our history is preserved, our stories are told. Today, you make sure we are seen by showing up and attending and supporting the festival.
We thank you for being here, we thank you for making this possible, and we welcome you to the Festival and taking a stand.