My name is Gavin (they/them), and I am the Education Director at Out On Screen. After nearly a decade with the Out In Schools program, I found a renewed sense of purpose in my work when I became a parent a year and a half ago.

This is my story.

I was born in 1987 in a small town called Pincourt, Quebec. I grew up a tomboy, excluded from sports because I was a “girl” and excluded by other girls for my baggy clothes and hand-me-downs. I was bullied for existing outside of expected gender norms and had homophobic slurs thrown at me in hallways. The message I received as a young person was clear—queerness is shameful, can only be expressed in secret, and should be suppressed.

I had no language to describe my queer experiences. Going to school in the ’90s and early 2000s, there was no mention or knowledge of queer attraction or gender in classrooms.

This is how I know that the work we do at Out In Schools is essential.

Since its founding in 2004, Out In Schools has used film and facilitated dialogue to catalyze compassionate and life-affirming conversations around sexual orientation and gender identity. When a young person receives an Out In Schools presentation, they learn that who they are is perfectly okay, that they are allowed to grow into their fullest self, and that they deserve to feel unconditional love and belonging. An Out In Schools presentation also creates a brave space for youth to ask questions, practice listening and empathy, and shift behaviors.

A classroom with several youth and a person with a buzzcut presenting by a screen. Text on screen reads: How would your story change the world?
Out In Schools facilitator Phoebe (left) presents to a class.

Hear what an educator had to say after an Out In Schools presentation:

One of my students is a trans woman, and she had never met an adult trans person in her life so she was very excited, and said she felt seen. That warmed my heart – an important moment for a great kid.

This is the kind of environment I wish I had growing up and that I hope my own child will have regardless of their identity or orientation. Imagine the difference that robust Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI) education would have made to your childhood and those of your 2SLGBTQIA+ peers.

If you have seen the news lately, you will know that anti-queer and anti-trans sentiment is pervasive right now. Anti-drag protests are disrupting kid-friendly community programs, homophobic and transphobic legislation are being proposed and passed into law, and numerous groups are organizing to remove life-affirming SOGI education from schools.

To our entire community, this is cause for concern. Scapegoating the queer community in times of uncertainty is a conservative tactic we have seen before. When we hear threats to 2SLGBTQIA+ communities, we take action.

Today is the International Day of Pink, a day started to combat homophobic and transphobic bullying in schools. We do this work year-round through the Out In Schools program.

This year alone, Out In Schools has already reached 5,919 youth, educators, and parents with the affirming, nuanced, and positive stories that are so scarce in the media today. There is a hunger for our programming, and we are working hard to meet this demand.

Five people in masks pose for a selfie in front of a rainbow staircase at a school.
Gavin (second from the left) poses with four Out In Schools facilitators at a school in front of a rainbow staircase.

We wouldn’t be able to do this work without the activists and allies that support our work through their donations. Individual donations are the second largest source of revenue for our work at Out On Screen, after grants from the public sector. Individuals like yourself help us to share joy, reduce stigma, and foster safer spaces for queer youth to be themselves. If you are interested in becoming a donor, visit our Donate page or get in touch with our team at

Thank you for taking the time to read about why Out In Schools means so much to me as an educator and parent, and thank you for helping us make a difference for 2SLGBTQIA+ communities.

Image from Ur Aska (2019) directed by Myra Hild.

Gavin, Danny, Avery, and Charlie share what Trans Day of Visibility means to them and recommend four films illuminating different parts of the trans experience that you can watch online now.

For the first time, I felt real.

A slightly blurry photo of Gavin smiling widely at the beach looking towards their child, who is out of frame.

Growing up, I didn’t know it was possible to be anything other than what the doctors told my parents I was when I was born. I always felt “tomboyish”; I loved being outdoors, playing sports, and wearing baggy clothes. I always felt like I didn’t quite fit, but lacked the language to describe how I felt and didn’t see representations of transgender people in the media or in my communities.

I remember hearing the word “genderqueer” for the first time when I was 18; it struck a chord that resonated so strongly in me that, all of a sudden, for the first time, I felt real. Gender-queer. Queer as in strange, odd, different. Queer as in my gender.

Transgender Day of Visibility means getting to exist as I am, and, by virtue of being myself openly, offering glimmers of possibility and permission for others to exist outside of what was expected of them or who the world told them they were supposed to be.

Gavin (they/them)
Education Director

Gavin recommends Ur Aska (2019), dir. Myra Hild

Ur Aska is a Danish animated short, and presents a beautiful allegory on transition and explores how love can prevail even as our relationships with others might change. If you’re an educator, you can create an account to access all Out In Schools films and lesson plans for free. Please use your school-based email address. 

Being authentic to ourselves is itself an act of protest

Danny wearing dark lipstick and white freckle makeup, throwing a peace sign.

My name is Danny, and my pronouns are he/him and they/them. I am a queer, non-binary, trans man. I conceptualize my gender as being near enough to the “man” box that I’m comfortable with being perceived as such, but far enough from the box to have an experience of gender distinct from binary men. To me, Trans Day of Visibility is about being my true self, out in the open. 

There are risks and barriers that come with being visibly trans; being authentic to ourselves is itself an act of protest. It’s also about showing (and seeing) that it’s possible to be trans and have a life filled with happiness and love. There is so much to being trans that we so rarely get to see because the few depictions of us in the media are so often centered on tragedy. Trans Day of Visibility is an opportunity to highlight the joy and magic of our community, and all the amazing things folks are doing.

Danny (he/they)
Out In Schools Program Coordinator

Danny recommends A Typical Fairytale (2018), dir. Annette Reilly

My film recommendation is A Typical Fairytale, written by non-binary filmmaker Jess McLeod and starring young genderfluid actor Ameko Eks Mass Carroll. It’s a cute, quirky short about a young couple, their child’s divergence, and their decision to love and support their Prince despite their fears. If you’re an educator, you can create an account to access all Out In Schools films and lesson plans for free. Please use your school-based email address. 

I saw all the possibilities of who I could be

Avery looks behind them at the camera in a wheelchair, black tank and dark shades.

When I was younger, the world was so big. 

The big adults bombarded me with “possibilities” for my “potential”. And when I was younger, I did dream big—but those dreams slowly shrank as I grew. I didn’t see how “someone like me” could simply exist, let alone be in community with others like myself.

And then I found Transgender Day of Visibility. I saw so many different people’s existence. I was exposed to so many ways of being! I saw their potential, and I felt in community.

On Transgender Day of Visibility, I saw all the possibilities of who I could be while being true to myself in all aspects.

Avery (they/them)
Out In Schools Program Coordinator

Avery recommends Meet the Transgender NCAA Swimmer from Harvard produced by the Olympics

My film recommendation is the short documentary Meet The Transgender Swimmer From Harvard, which highlights Schuyler Bailar’s incredible journey to becoming the first openly transgender athlete to compete at an NCAA level. Watch this video on Youtube.

Life has been everything I was told I couldn’t have

Photo of Charlie in a black t-shirt and looking to the left.

I grew up lonely and spent hours in front of the mirror looking for ways I could look more like a boy. It wasn’t until seeing conversations about puberty blockers in the media in 2017 that I dared to dream of what my life could have been like if I’d experienced my adolescence today.

Later that year, I was attending a queer film festival when a handsome man talked to me, and over our little chat, disclosed that he was a trans man. That was it. That was all I needed for my life to change forever.

I realized I could be the man I had been hiding all my life from everyone but myself. I could be proud, I could be out, I could feel safe, I could be happy, and I could even be handsome! Since that day, life has been everything I was told it couldn’t be: a journey filled with love, freedom and, growth. And it was made possible by the visibility of others who’d gone on this journey before me.

Charlie (he/they)
Artistic Director

Charlie recommends Disclosure (2020), dir. Sam Feder

I think everyone needs to watch Disclosure, an incredible, eye-opening documentary about the history of trans representation in Hollywood featuring trans artists and filmmakers. What people know and believe about trans people is informed primarily from what they see in the media, and trans representation in media is full of tropes and harmful narratives. Watch this film on Netflix and check out the many toolkits and discussion guides on their website to see how you can advocate for trans people in your community, school, or workplace.

International Transgender Day of Visibility takes place every year on March 31st and celebrate trans people, bringing awareness to trans experiences. Founded by activist Rachel Candall in 2009, this day specifically focuses on celebrating trans people, trans community, and trans joy.

Stories about trans people and experiences in film, TV, and media oftentimes focus on tragedy and violence as well as harmful misrepresentations and stereotypes. However, as you see in these personal accounts and films, the trans experience is so much brighter and broader than what is shown in the mainstream. Trans lives deserve to be visible in their entirety, and we invite you to join us in continuing to share and hear stories from trans individuals and artists.

Submissions to the 35th Annual Vancouver Queer Film Festival (August 10-20, 2023) are NOW OPEN!

Each August, WE SHOWCASE 11 days of outstanding cinema, live performances, community-building events, and great parties, all in the environment of beautiful mountain and ocean views.

WE PAY screening fees for all selected work. WE SEEK content in all genres, specifically stories that center on 2SLGBTQIA+ protagonists, overturn stereotypes, push boundaries, strive for change, arouse and tantalize, and above all, highlight the tremendous diversity of queer, trans, and Two Spirit people, artists, and communities.

Along with the arrival of Artistic Director, Charlie Hidalgo, also NEW THIS YEAR:


This cash prize will be determined by a jury, and will honor a storyteller who uses the power of cultural strategy to overturn outdated narratives, inspire change, and expand the audience’s perception of 2SLGBTQIA+ identities in their work. 


Episodic content created for television or web is now also welcomed. 

Single episodes and full series can be submitted, but the content must not have aired yet or be available for free online.


In order to ensure that all submissions are evaluated and that all programmers are paid a living wage, we have started charging an entry fee. However, we do offer waivers to BIPOC artists and other underrepresented identities and regions.  If cost is a barrier, please email us to The VQFF Programming team can’t wait to watch your work!

Gold members of FilmFreeway get a 25% discount on all fees.

Continuing our journey on the National Day for Truth & Reconciliation

This week marks Truth and Reconciliation Week and the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation taking place on September 30. Call to Action #80 in the 2015 Truth and Reconciliation Commission report asked for this day, first known as Orange Shirt Day, to become a statutory holiday with two goals: to honour survivors, their families, and communities; and to ensure the public commemoration of residential schools.

Reconciliation does not feel like the right word to us at Out On Screen. As a mostly settler-run organization, we do not have a past of “friendly relations” with Indigenous peoples to restore, and Out On Screen has, and does, perpetuate harm. We need to repair and rebuild these relationships anew. In this work, our focus is on advancing truth and justice—better listening to Indigenous people who are sharing their experiences, making the changes that are being asked of us, and ensuring justice is reflected in our relationships with Indigenous people and communities.

Some truths we understand today are the incredible leadership of Indigenous peoples; the ongoing harms of systems that still separate Indigenous children and families today; and the significant knowledge Indigenous peoples carry with them.

Here are some ways to recognize this day as we deepen our understanding of truth:

We also invite you to learn more about our commitment to right relations and to view where we are on this journey in our 2020 Annual Report (pages 8-9).

Do you remember the first time you saw yourself—really saw yourself—on screen? 

We all know how powerful, affirming, and moving it feels to be understood and celebrated by those closest to us, as well as by the wider communities that we are a part of. To see a piece of yourself in art and film is to know that you are not alone. As this #VQFF2021 attendee wrote to us of their experience watching Homecomings, a shorts program on transmasculinity:

I’m watching the first video of Homecomings and I started crying right before they say “I’m gonna cry.” Now we crying together. I feel so exposed and seen at the same time. What do you know? There’s someone out there that understands. Genius to call the season “Longing” and the content makes you feel less alone.

This is what I love most about queer film festivals: every time my heart gets broken up and put back together and I stand taller. I’m more excited and brave to be who I am. I let my imagination and desires run wild.

Because they make me feel like I belong. In infinite ways.

2021 VQFF Attendee

As a queer film festival, we work hard to listen to our community, and to answer your calls for new stories and honest representations, such as those showcased in Homecomings. By curating local, emerging, and independent filmmakers and films that mainstream media continues to overlook, we provide opportunities to support artists, stories, and belonging in our communities. We hope that when you tune in this year—and hopefully every year—that you to feel seen and are able to deepen your connection to those around you. 

To support this work, please join this year’s Festival Campaign by making a donation today. To date we have raised $15,231.77. Help us reach our goal of $35,000.00 by August 22nd!

As you continue to enjoy #VQFF2021 virtually at home, know that we are all “crying together.” 

Every year, the Fernie and Elk Valley Pride Festival brings together businesses, allies and queer folks to celebrate the 2SLGBTQIA+ community. As a nonprofit serving a rural community, Fernie Pride Society has a unique perspective. Through their partnership with Vancouver Queer Film Festival, the nonprofit invites their community to watch queer film, and to attend panels and workshops. “To us it was a good partnership because film is an art and communication tool,” says Courtney Baker (she/her). And it allows Fernie Pride Society to expand its network and connect with like-minded organizations with aligned missions. Fernie Pride is committed to ensuring that anyone, regardless of financial status, can attend their events, especially teenagers whose exposure to 2SLGBTQIA+ content is transformative. Because of a low barrier to entry, more community members witness queer voices in the arts. 

How did the Fernie and Elk Valley Pride Festival start?

Courtney: By a parent whose child came out. There were no resources here. So she got people together and started the Fernie Pride Society in 2017. A need was recognized and fulfilled by passionate people. 

It’s encouraging to see community members coming together to support the 2SLGBTQIA+ community. What is your mission as a society?

Courtney: To support, connect, and create a community for 2SLGBTQIA+ people in the valley and provide resources, referrals, and education. 

Do you find a significant need for 2SLGTQBIA+ resources and education because Fernie is farther away from bigger urban areas?

Courtney: Rural communities have difficulty accessing resources. In my experience, there’s an appetite for education and support in rural communities in BC. It’s so important that there is something like Pride for people to find their sense of community.

I agree, it’s so essential for people all over the province, regardless of whether they live in a rural community or big city, to have access to the queer community. This year, VQFF is streaming all over British Columbia, so even folks living in rural communities have access to queer cinema. How does Fernie celebrate Pride? 

Courtney: Fernie is a recreation resort community, so we start with a bike parade instead of the traditional Pride Parade. We also offer drag storytime, drag craft time, workshops and  performances that are well received by youth. Generally speaking, most events are free or of minimal cost. 

A low barrier to entry makes the event more accessible to everyone. The VQFF offers film tickets on a scale from $5 to $21 so folks can choose a price that works with their budget. Accessibility is an integral part of our mission as an art nonprofit. It sounds like engaging youth is a high priority for Fernie Pride Society, too. What youth organizations have you worked alongside? Have you ever received a presentation from our sibling program, Out In Schools

Courtney: We’ve been fortunate to have received support from the Tegan and Sara Foundation for youth programming. For the last year, we’ve been able to have a youth board member on our Board of Directors as a voting position. She also sits on our Youth Committee, funded through the Tegan and Sara Foundation. They provide at least one monthly event for youth and work with our local elementary school to do a public art project. We recognize the value of these collaborations and how important they are to furthering our mission and vision. Our mandate is to support and connect members of the queer community. No, we have yet to receive a presentation from Out In Schools. 

During the Festival, we produce a number of non-film events, including a youth workshop the annually centres different aspects of queer culture, but we’ve had to move much of this online. What are some events you have hosted in the past that you especially miss hosting in real life? I assume you had to organize a virtual celebration last year. 

Courtney: We were fortunate that we had this weird window in our Festival that we could do a combination of the two. We did live-stream everything, but we were able to host most events outside with small in-person audiences (20 person maximum), which was great. It was nice to have it feel more like a festival than just 100% digital. So what did we miss? Everything really, with only having 20 people.

This year, VQFF also managed to offer a hybrid where we host three in-person events but offer all films virtually for people to stream. The theme for the Festival is ‘Longing,’ an emotion which is familiar to me. Aside from a return to seeing each other in person, what are you longing for?

Courtney: Oh, that’s a good question. I’m longing for people to get what they need and for everyone to feel connected and committed to something, wanting for people to regain their passion.

The Fifth Elk and Fernie Valley Pride is happening in September from September 23 – 26. Follow Fernie Pride Society on Instagram and Facebook to find out more details.

The Vancouver Men’s Chorus (VMC) is a registered charity non-profit, and the first gay chorus in Canada started in the 1980s. Recently, I sat down (virtually) with representatives from the Board of Directors, Jenson Kerr (he/him) and Humphrey Tam (he/him), to discuss the importance of queer arts and the 2021 Vancouver Queer Film Festival programme. 

The programming team paired VMC with Workhorse Queen. The documentary spotlights the story of Ed Popil, better known as drag persona Mrs.Kasha Davis, after competing on RuPaul’s Drag Race. For Mrs. Kasha Davis and many other artists, performing is more than just a way to express their creativity. There is healing in the arts, whether you’re part of the audience or putting on the show. 

Alexis: You have a show airing now, Singing Can Be a Drag. What can audiences expect? 

Jenson: Usually, during our annual fundraiser, we put on a live show. Drag shows are lip-synced. Our twist is that we’re singing. The performances include everything from classic pop hits to old-school ballads. But this year, we had to transition to digital. So it allowed us to switch gears, and each queen created a music video.

Alexis: I look forward to streaming the show. This year the VQFF also had to go digital, but we switched to video-on-demand so audiences can watch films anytime during the Festival. Have you partnered with us in the past, as both organizations have a long history of serving the queer community in Vancouver?

Humphrey: I don’t think we have been an official community partner.

Alexis: Well, I’m excited to have created this relationship between us that will hopefully last for years to come. Which leads me to my next question, why is a collaboration between queer organizations important?

Jenson: There’s still prejudice that we all have to fight. I know for myself, and I’m a theatre artist by trade, any chance I have to coordinate and collaborate with other queer artists is usually one of the most fulfilling relationships in the arts because of the shared experiences. You instantly connect on a deeper level.

Alexis: You have similar values and approaches to life that arise from being queer in a society that isn’t always accepting. Working together means that you can show up as your whole authentic self. 

Humphrey: I think by having these community partnerships, we can promote our history and let people know that there are others like them. 

Alexis: There’s an eclectic selection of content at the Festival that promotes our community. I’m sure that all 2SLGBTQIA+ individuals and allies are likely to find a film that resonates. Have you attended the Festival before, and if so, what has been your experience?

Jenson: I’ve only been one time but, I was amazed that it existed. I originally come from a small town, so it still blows my mind to have access to things like this. 

Alexis: Because the Festival is streaming online, folks from all over BC, even those living in small towns, have access to queer film. We aim to continue with a hybrid model of the Festival moving forward so people from small towns can watch! 

Jenson: The Festival makes me appreciate what I took for granted, so I’ll be going more in the future. 

Humphrey: I have been a few years, and my experience has always been positive. The first year I attended, I was shocked by the number of queer films, producers, and directors. I always thought that it’s a very niche market, and it’s not. I didn’t realize there was so much queer content out there. 

Alexis: Yeah, I was also shocked by all the queer films I had never heard of because, in mainstream media, there isn’t much representation. During the Festival on August 14, there is a talk from our Artistic Director, Anoushka Ratnarajah, where she speaks about the history of queer film and how queer people on screen have evolved from villains to everyday people in media. What makes 2SLGBTQIA+ representation important for you?

Humphrey: For me, it’s visibility. Growing up, the only gay person I saw in film had to pretend to be married to a woman to get his family’s approval. But it gave me someone I could identify with; visibility validates our existence. 

Alexis: In many cases, people don’t know that not being straight or cis is an option until they see it. That’s why films that tell honest and authentic queer stories are important. Our theme for the 2021 Festival is longing. So my question for both of you is, what have you been longing for?

Humphrey: I’m notoriously not a hugger. I prefer my personal space. But, my God, I want to hug everyone I see now. I’ve been longing to run up to my friends and give them a big hug and face-to-face connection, and I’m like the biggest hermit there is.

Jenson: Looping back to who we are, I think many of us are longing for when we can sing together. There’s something about singing together that’s very healing. As a singer, I’m longing for the first note of harmony. 

Alexis: Yeah. And I’m sure the audience also longs to listen in a concert hall because it’s an entirely different experience online. I long to experience queer joy, grief and ordinariness together in a theatre.
Vancouver Men’s Chorus annual fundraiser Singing Can Be a Drag: Digital Divas is airing until August 31. You can find out more about VMC and how to become a member on their website, Facebook and watch performances on Youtube.

An interview with Queer Community Collective

Queer Community Collective (QCC) is a grass-roots non-profit dedicated to offering a supportive space for 2SLGBTQIA+ and QTBIPOC folks to make friends. I spoke with the co-founders, Creative Director Ess Ravensbergen (they/them) and Executive Director Kaide Tighe (they/them). QCC’s roots are in advocacy for marginalized communities, born out of an initiative to support the homeless population displaced from Strathcona Park. They are currently on a mission to bridge the gaps in the 2SLGBTQIA+ community by connecting people at small in-person events. Their vision resonates with the Vancouver Queer Film Festival. As a result, several members of the Collective have volunteered at the Festival, past and present. 

Queer Community Collective hosted the first-ever Fraser Valley Pride, a landmark event that pushed against homophobia and transphobia—allowing people in the community to feel seen and celebrated. With the Festival broadcasting all over BC, community members in small towns far removed from our Vancouver cinemas are reminded that they are not alone and that queerness is worth celebrating! The Collective plans to host a viewing party in Langley during the Festival, where they’ll project Los Fuertes (The Strong Ones) onto a screen. This film tells the story of two lovers who grapple with their future when they must choose between comfort or facing their fears. Los Fuertes captures a common queer experience, one that many of us face as we come to realize that being our true selves may mean losing acceptance from those we love. Having a community to lean on can make a huge difference for young 2SLGBTQIA folks, and we’re thrilled to be able to share this film and explore this experience alongside the QCC. 

Outside of hosting events, Queer Community Collective has a podcast, QKIDS, a play on words for skids and a queer kid in distress. “As queer folks we experience more distress. It’s a fun way for people to be like, ‘oh what’s that’ and then we open up these doors to conversation,” explains Kaide. As co-founders, they aim to create the supportive space that they longed for as young queers. Now, as adults, they offer resources and peer support for 2SLGBTQIA+ youth. The episodes of QKids examine pop culture through a queer lens and spotlight 2SLGBTQIA+ artists, performers and entrepreneurs. In their latest episode, Ess and Kaide speak on the magic of trans visibility.

The 2021 Festival programme swaps out the heavy-hearted endings predominant in media representation of trans masculinity with depictions of joy. Authentic representation of those far too often underrepresented reminds audiences that there is no one way to be trans, and they deserve a happy ending. “I came out in high school, but I didn’t know that there was the option to not be a woman. I didn’t understand what trans men were, so I had no idea until my early 20s and it took me so long to unpack that,” says Kaide. The shorts programme Homecomings celebrates transmasculine bodily autonomy with stories that are created by and for trans folks. 

Kaide says, “Our biggest goal is to create representation across the board for all parts of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community. That’s kind of where it started and where we’re going.” There is still an absence of connection within the greater queer community. Through initiatives and events, such as a small viewing party during VQFF, folks come together to foster relationships that make them feel like they’re a part of something bigger. Queer Community Collective continues to create language and imagination to enable queers to express themselves fully. You can find Queer Community Collective on Facebook and Instagram. Their podcast QKIDS is available to listen to on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.

Partnering with the TWFF uplifts the whole arts community.

I have the unique pleasure this summer of working with a lot of local arts and service organizations to get the word out about the Vancouver Queer Film Festival. Recently, I had the opportunity to speak with Ian Lin (he, him), President of the Vancouver Taiwanese Film Society, a non-profit arts and culture initiative that produces the annual Vancouver Taiwanese Film Festival, and our 2021 Community Partner for See You Then.

Since 2007, TWFF has introduced audiences to films from Taiwanese creators celebrating culture and history. In 2020, the Festival offered eight films for free on topics ranging from archiving film to systemic sexism in the entertainment industry. Ian says, “that by doing so we emphasize the cultural diversity of Canada and encourage dialogue between people.” As a result, Taiwanese audiences connect with their diaspora, and folks from other cultural backgrounds develop cultural intelligence.

Community partnership is crucial to engaging with the communities we seek to serve through our programming, and helps us meet many of the same goals as the TWFF: working together we build connection, understanding, and awareness of our similarities and beautiful differences.

During my conversation with Ian, we spoke about the significance of cross-promotion, which is when marketing information is exchanged between organizations to promote their programming to a broader audience. Cross-promotion allows more folks to learn about the entertaining and educational arts programming happening in Vancouver. Working together, we’re able to  “create a communication bridge between two different film industries,” as Ian puts it, allowing both organizations to reach a wider audience. As a community partner, Vancouver Taiwanese Film Festival will promote See You Then, a film which showcases 2SLGBTQIA+ authenticity behind the camera. The TWFF will promote our film partnership on Facebook and is hosting a ticket giveaway on their Instagram (a well-planned giveaway has the potential to grow a more engaged audience!)

In exchange, we’re happy to promote our relationship with the TWFF: listing them on our website, recognizing them in our announcements before the film, and promoting their festival materials later this fall. By sharing information, and audiences, both of our organizations are able to build new, meaningful connections with new film-lovers.

Directed by Mari Walker, a trans woman who uses cinema to speak on issues that have come to the forefront during her transition, See You Then is a drama about two ex-lovers.  Kris, who underwent a gender transition, invites Naomi – played by Taiwanese-American actress Lynn Chen – for a night out after an abrupt breakup a decade earlier. Their vulnerable conversation touches on unresolved conflicts, regrets and exposes their deepest scars. VQFF Artistic Director Anoushka Ratnarajah describes See You Then as a “cinematic exercise in compassion and empathy, for oneself as much as others.” The film inspires reflection from the audience on what it means to be a woman, and about the often difficult experiences we endure to survive. The heartbreaking ending is guaranteed to have audiences crying as they come to terms with the painful emotions that arise from reconnecting with ex-lovers, even when we long for their presence in our lives.  Folks can purchase tickets to See You Then on our website

As you probably already know, the theme of the 33rd Vancouver Queer Film Festival is Longing. I asked Ian what he has been longing for recently. Of course, answers to such an intimate question vary from person to person. However, Ian’s response speaks to a universal human desire that can often feel out of reach.. “Peace; everyone lives in harmony, accepts each other and no one will be judgmental of a group of people,” he says. When we welcome someone back into our lives who we haven’t seen in a while but long for their connection, we can only hope to receive unconditional acceptance. Far too often that isn’t the case as unresolved wounds come to the surface.

The 2021 Vancouver Taiwanese Film Festival will be presented virtually from September 11 to 19. The programme will be available to view online in August. Follow them on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter to receive updates.

The media we engage in shapes our culture and perception of the world around us. Despite an increase in positive representation of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community primarily due to commercial interest, queer folks are still underrepresented in the media. As an audience, we are subjected to queer baiting (the practice of hinting at or mimicking queerness without genuine representation), or queer coded characters who are far-too-often cis and/or white, without broader, authentic representation. The pervasiveness of heteronormativity and cisnormativity on and behind the screen reinforces and exacerbates harmful misconceptions. Authentic visibility however, validates and empowers sexual and gender minorities. 

The work done by the award-winning Out In Schools program empowers the 2SLGBTQIA+ community, particularly young people, through visibility and positive representation on screen. Film is a powerful educational tool that teaches us that we have the power to shape our stories. Out In Schools Program Coordinator Danny Laybbet (he/they) says, “by interacting with queer film, they get to see themselves reflected. They get to see possibilities for what they can be.” Program Coordinator, Avery Shannon (they/them), acknowledges that, students today know far more about queer issues than youth in previous generations. Thus, the team strives to meet the audience where they are. Working with Out In Schools since 2014, Education Director Gavin Somers (they/them) has firsthand experience of the impact having conversations about queer issues earlier on has for youth. After presenting to an engaged high school, a group of youth spoke to Gavin to say they attended an Out In Schools presentation a few years previous and, as a result, the youth knew queer lexicon and even spoke up to share their own stories. Reaching youth early and often is key to the program’s success. “You don’t have to do that unlearning [later in life],” says Gavin, when asked about what difference reaching younger audiences makes. “Because you’re provided access to tools and representation early on.”

Out In Schools presentations start with the opening question, “how would your story change the world?” before sharing films that showcase authentic queer representation. For many kids, it is the first time seeing themselves on screen. The presentation is structured to be relatable and geared to the audience, such as not showing films with too much jargon or complicated plots. Films selected for each presentation are age and grade appropriate, to enhance relatability and understanding. The team also factors in who is presenting. For example, if all facilitators are cis, they will showcase trans stories because the facilitators themselves will have an opportunity to share their own experiences alongside the films. Out In Schools also presents at corporate offices where the conversation is based around supporting adults as they unlearn misconceptions about the 2SLGBTQIA+ community perpetuated by the media and learn to step into allyship both in the office and in their wider communities. 

As a youth, I never had a chance to see an Out In School presentation. Instead, a man spoke at my school about conversion therapy. As a queer teen, this interaction reinforced shame, which is why the work done by Out In Schools is integral for transforming lives by showing that queerness is worth celebrating. In addition, the power of visibility allows students to see that they are not alone. The films reaffirm that their presence in the world matters; they matter.  Even more important, presenters and films show the power of exploring queer joy as contagious and transformative mediums. Danny shares that “more recently I’ve been really loving the celebration rather than tolerance aspect of life. We’re past the point of just needing to accept. Well, like, yeah, you need to accept trans people. But also that being trans is good.Each of us can carve a space for ourselves and shape our world. 

Discussions about 2SLGBTQIA+ issues are now a part of the BC curriculum however, the Out In Schools program is unique by showcasing films that uplift the lived queer experience. Out In Schools presentations are a continuously flowing conversation, where questions and discussions lead to films, and films spark new questions and audience engagements. These experiences  are empowering for youth, educators, and employees, and they move participants to action. The goal is that they continue to have conversations and promote safer, more inclusive spaces after Out In Schools departs. Allies develop empathy and learn how to use their visibility and power to conduct deliberate allyship. Meanwhile, queer folks gain a sense of belonging to a community. The films that are especially meaningful for Out In School’s staff are Meet the Transgender NCAA Swimmer from Harvard (Schuyler Bailar), Kapaemahu, Wendy’s Story aka The Healer, and Ur Aska.

Book a presentation with Out In Schools and empower queer folks in your community. For an extensive list of educational resources, access the Out In Schools website.

On August 15, during the Vancouver Queer Film Festival, we are collaborating with Out In Schools to deliver a presentation so attendees can witness the work done by the program firsthand. The Out In Schools team will share short films, present content, and engage viewers in a discussion about queer representation in media and allyship. Register for the presentation today and check out the rest of the Festival programme online!