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On Saturday I convened a panel discussion entitled “Striving and Thriving: Identity, Sexuality, and the Media” at the 5th Annual Outfest Los Angeles Gay & Lesbian Film Festival’s FUSION LGBT People of Color Film Festival.

The panel was held in Hollywood at the Egyptian Theater as part of FUSION’s first annual conference.  Panelists included Ed Varga with Homo A Go Go, LaShawn Best with ReachLA, Coral Lopez and Elias Martinez with Bienestar, and Maria Carmen with Asian Pacific AIDS Intervention Team.

The main topic up for discussion was the impact of distorted social images in the media on both the LGBT community and People of Color communities and the role of LGBT filmmakers in telling the stories of the gay community.

Along with the conference there was a full on film festival with a special screening of Cheryl Dunye’s Watermelon Woman with Cheryl in attendance.

Other screenings included Amber Sharp’s new lesbian series Don’t Go and here! Network’s DL Chronicles with creators Deondray Gossett and Quincy LeNear in attendance.  RuPaul made an appearance for his new film Starbooty, which incidentally includes a cameo from our favorite blackface drag queen Shirley Q. Liquor…no comment.  New shorts, The Pretty Boy King of Hollywood and Gay Bash also showed. On Saturday night, FUSION’s popular Sabor Con Fusion played to a standing room only crowd.  Sabor Con Fusion is FUSION’s popular annual celebration of poetry, dance, music, comedy, and hip-hop.  This year featured performers included Ricoshade, Shurlavision, Melange LaVonne, and D’Lo, among others.

2007 marked the 5th year that Outfest has produced the FUSION festival.  The purpose was to create a venue for LGBT minority filmmakers to shine and network.  Some argue that FUSION shouldn’t be separate from Outfest’s signature festival in July, while others argue that it should.  I think we need both, in addition to inclusion in other film festivals that aren’t necessarily gay or white, like the Latino, Asian, and Black film festivals.

Next stop on the film festival circuit is the 16th Annual Pan African Film and Arts Festival taking place in February here in Los Angeles at the Magic Johnson Theaters and the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza.


Outfest Los Angeles Gay & Lesbian Film Festival
Don’t Go A New Lesbian Series from Filmmaker Amber Sharp
The DL Chronicles
The Pan African Film and Arts Festival
Melange LaVonne
Homo A Go Go
Asian Pacific AIDS Intervention Team