NKU is coming out to the movies

Editor’s Note: LGBT is the common term to refer to the community of people. Queer is a term to include all people who do not follow mainstream heterosexual norms.

Newspapers have recently featured many headlines concerning the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community. Three incidents of assaults on gay individuals in Covington, Ky. occurred in Aug. 2010, and the white supremacist National Alliance posted anti-gay fliers around the Mainstrasse area.

Northern Kentucky University junior Austin Lee Brown hopes to make the next headline as the founder and director of the Out Film Festival, Kentucky’s first international queer* film festival on June 4, 2011 at the The Carnegie Visual and Performing Arts Center in Covington, Ky.

“The Carnegie was always choice number one, and then when the violence [in Mainstrasse] happened, we’re like, ‘Okay, that’s our only choice,’” Brown said.
With a recent rise in gay teen suicides, Brown said that the festival was necessary.

He said the Out Film Festival is important because Kentucky is behind. “Texas has [a queer film fest], so I feel like that’s a big step,” Brown said. “If Texas beat us to it, then we have a problem.”

Out Film Festival is the culmination of Brown’s Honors Capstone project to raise awareness and celebrate queer representation in the media. Last semester, he led a film seminar based on the topic. “The purpose was to get an academic understanding of where the gay representation has gone since the publication of ‘The Celluloid Closet’ in ‘87,” Brown said.
Brown said he hopes the LGBT community keeps progressing in film. He also hopes the media begins to address the bullying of gay teenagers so that the general public realizes there is a problem.

He hopes to “make people know that there’s something here that represents a whole group of people that live here, a whole community that is underrepresented, and culturally, our nation is trying to understand.”

Brown said there’s been a lot of positive reaction to Out Film Festival. “Most people are just like, ‘Ah, we need this so badly. This is so important that we do this,’” he said.
Overall, Brown just hopes people get involved and support the festival, and raise awareness. He is worried many people in our generation no longer understand the intent of “coming out.”

“The point of coming out is so that people know we’re here, and we’re not any different from you,” Brown said. “By having a festival, it’s like a big coming out for a community.”
To contact Brown, email him at austin.lee@outfilmfest.com. To learn more about the festival visit http://www.outfilmfest.com.

Story by Claire Higgins