Friends of the festival

The Tampa Bay International Gay and Lesbian Film Festival (TIGLFF) was founded in 1990 as a three day extension of Tampa’s gay pride celebrations by representatives of three LGBTQ+ organizations: The Tampa Bay Business Guild (TBBG), the Bay Area Human Rights Coalition, and the Tampa Bay Gay Men’s Chorus.  Over the course of its first decade the film festival was a fundraising event for a number of local non-profit groups, eventually falling under the umbrella of Tampa Bay Arts.

Dorothy Abbott programmed most of the festivals through the 1990s. Dorothy built industry relationships that put TIGLFF on the national map.  She is also the person who put the word “international” in our name.

At every moment in the film festival’s history, a number of people have stepped up and done whatever needed to be done.  Some gave more time and money than they could afford.  They did it because they loved this festival, and they wanted to see it survive and prosper.  This is true no matter which era or which producing organization we’re talking about.

Founders who helped lead, organize and plan the film festival in its initial years include: Mark Puig, Dorothy Abbott, Keith Roberts, Sunny Hall, Bob Pope, Richard Waugh, Chuck Wilhelm, Larry Fischer, Martin Padgett, Amy Nestor, Lex Poppens, Cathy Prance, Victoria Jorgensen, Brian Winfield, Robert Geller, Michele Greenberg and many more.

Tampa Bay Arts, was an umbrella organization that had taken responsibility for the Tampa Bay Gay Men’s Chorus and several other activities, including producing the film festival. By 1999 Tampa Bay Arts had accumulated a rather large debt.  The lender was trying to collect it.  Tampa Bay Arts was discussing bankruptcy as a way to forestall the collection. Film festival planners feared that the money would just be sucked into that debt, which had nothing to do with the film festival. So they started their own organization to produce the film festival.

After two years of negotiation, Friends of the Festival Inc.  (FOF) was formed and the film festival parted amiably from Tampa Bay Arts. The film festival was finally on its own, fully in charge of its own destiny.  Friends of the Festival, Inc., is a non-profit 501c(3) entity, DBA the Tampa International Gay and Lesbian Film Festival.

That first start-up year as Friends of the Festival, Inc., in 2000, Jim Harper, FOFs first Board President put up $30,000 of his own money to pay bills until ticket sales and sponsorship revenues started coming in.  He ended up getting most of that money back over the next several years.