On September 3rd, we will be holding our second Art for AIDS show and sale at the Chinatown Youth Center (CYC) from 6pm until 9pm. It is free to attend and there will be complimentary snacks and beverages. All proceeds will go directly to the walk. If you are a local artist that would like to donate artwork, please call (559) 486-1469. Thank you and we hope to see you there.
Haley White is a new
addition to the Fresno Reel Pride family. She came on board this year (Reel
Pride 26) to work on programming the films for the festival. I reached out to
her with a few questions about this year’s film festival.
I met Reel Pride Treasurer Brian
Carnes at a party back in February. He mentioned how they needed more
volunteers. I initially thought he meant they needed additional help the
week of the festival. I’ve volunteered in the past to help out Gay Central
Valley with concessions, so I told Brian I’d be happy to help usher and
whatnot. I had no idea Jon Carroll had retired and that they were searching for
a new programmer. When they talked to me later about the position and asked if
I had any interest in potentially filling it, I think I said yes before I
entirely thought it through. I’m glad I did, though. It’s been a lot of a hard
work and I’ve been flying blind a good majority of the time, but I’ve met a lot
of great people and the work is right up my alley.
Why do you think Reel Pride is
important to Fresno and the LGBT Community?
I’m all for anything that brings
art and culture to underserved areas. We have a lot of great things happening
in Fresno (in spite of our bad rap for being a hick town), but outside of Reel
Pride, special Fathom events at Regal and Sierra Vista, and the great work
Fresno Filmworks is doing locally, we don’t have a whole lot of independent
cinema available in town. I believe it’s very important for people to see themselves
represented in art, so I think it’s great thing that, at least once a year,
local LGBT folks have the opportunity to go to the movies and see films that
prominently feature LGBT love stories and characters. It’s also a good way to
bring business and foot traffic to the Tower District, which is my ‘hood. So I
love that, too.
Tell us a bit about your
background. Why did you become involved with Reel Pride? What are you
I’m pretty involved in the local
film and theatre scenes. I work as a Production Coordinator at Windsong
Productions by day and I volunteer a lot with The New Ensemble and Stageworks
Fresno in my spare time. I’m also the Campaign Coordinator for I Bike Fresno. I
am a big proponent of “being the change” you wish to see in the world. For me,
as an artist, a big part of that means getting out and making sure art does a
better job of representing actual reality. I’m a filmmaker and writer, I’m
always cognizant of trying to tell stories from the point of view of ‘the other’.
Even as a consumer, I don’t want to see whitewashed, clichéd, heteronormative
storytelling all the time. I imagine there are plenty of other people out there
who feel the same way. Any opportunity I have to bring art that fits “outside
the box” to people, so to speak, I definitely want to be involved in that.
On a separate-but-related note:
I’m bisexual. My sister is gay. We grew up in one of those typically anti-gay
religious households where being LGBT just wasn’t an option. It took us both a
lot of heartache and pain to get to a place where we could be ok with being
ourselves outright (including my sister’s divorce from her high school
sweetheart and my own long and ugly road to a place of much-needed sobriety
five years ago). Anything I can do to help normalize the way LGBT people are
perceived, or help a young or struggling LGBTQ person see there are plenty of
people out there just like them, without them having to go through the same
years of self-torment and abuse…I would definitely say that is something I am
passionate about. That is huge for me.
How many films can we expect to
see from this year's festival?
Including shorts, we have about 60 films this year.
Which communities will be directly
impacted by films at this year's festival?
We made every effort to ensure our
programming was as diverse as possible. We cover all the L,G,B and T groups.
We’ve got a film about an asexual man. A few films about drag performers. A
short about a genderqueer woman. Films that cover multiple spectrums of sexuality
and/or gender. A film about living with AIDS. Films about first love and coming
out of the closet. Love stories for older demographics. Films about LGBT
children with supportive parents. Films about bullies. Films that might be a
little divisive for our audiences. And even outside of that, we really tried to
get a healthy balance of drama vs comedy, foreign vs American, documentary vs
feature, and so on and so forth. We really wanted to live up to our “Films For
The Tower Theater is the main venue. What are the other venues for this year's festival?
Our second venue is the Voice Shop, just down the street from Tower Theater. It’s an intimate setting that holds about 50 people, so I recommend showing up early for seats there or buying tickets in advance.
What is the film opening the
festival all about?
Addicted to Fresno
was a great score for us, for obvious reasons. The movie is directed by Jaime
Babbit, written by Karey Dornetto, and produced by Andrea Sperling. If you
don’t know those three names, you should get on google because all of them are
important powerhouse women doing big things in Hollywood.
The film follows the lives of two co-dependent sisters (Judy Greer
and Natasha Lyonne) as they work as maids in Fresno. It’s a raunchy comedy and
it pokes A TON of fun at our little town. Anyone who wants to come see it is
going to need to bring their sense of humor with them or they might find
themselves a little offended.
What about the closing film?
Our closer is Tangerine. It’s an indie film and Sundance darling that was shot
solely on an iPhone 5S. The film centers around Sin-dee, a hooker who finds out
her boyfriend/pimp cheated on her while she was in jail serving a 28 day stint,
and her best friend, Alexandra. Kitana Kiki-Rodriguez and Mya Taylor star in
the film; they are both transgender actresses who are garnering Oscar-buzz for
their performances. Although the movie is a revenge comedy, it has a ton of
What do you see as the highlight
of the foreign films this year?
We’re showing a total of four youth films this year and they’re
all built around “The Year We ThoughtAbout Love”, which is this great documentary about a group of queer teens
in a theatre group in Boston. Their stories are awkward and charming and
endearing; so much so, you can’t help but remember what it feels like to
be that age yourself while you’re watching it.
Can you tell us about the
transgender films included this year?
We have a fair amount of trans-centric films this year. I’ve
already mentioned Tangerineand The New Girlfriend. Deep Run is a documentary about trans
life deep in the conservative Bible Belt. In
The Turn is a documentary about a 10-year-old transgender girl who finds
acceptance and empowerment in the company of a queer roller derby collective.
We’re showing that one free to the public at 1pm on Sunday. There are a couple
other drag movies I think people will be excited to see.
We’ve also got some really great Trans shorts this year, I’d
specifically like to mention two animated films by filmmaker Iris Moore; Mindtease and Dancer and the Crow. They’re just fantastic. Keep your eyes peeled
How are lesbians represented in
films this year?
We’ve got festival favorites Marina Rice Bader and Michelle Ehlen coming to support their movies (Raven’s Touch and S&M Sally, respectively). Liz
in September and Summer of Sangaile
are both beautiful foreign language dramas. All About E is an Australian comedic thriller with a great, tender
love scene. Portrait of a SerialMonogamist is a lot of fun. Out inthe Night and A Gay Girl inDamascus: The Amina Profile are both powerful documentaries about really
important, timely subjects. And again, we have some great shorts. I’m really
excited to feature the short film Ma/ddy
by filmmaker Devon Kirkpatrick. The movie totally punched me in the gut when I
saw it for the first time at Outfest. Kirkpatrick won a feature package from
IFC so I hope we’ll have the opportunity to bring her full-length version back
to Reel Pride down the road.
What is your favorite film of the
How can I answer that?!?! Haha. I was moved by so many of these
films. Charmed by so many others. There’s a reason they all made the line-up.
That being said, I think The New Girlfriend is damn near a perfect piece of cinema and The Glamour and The Squalor is a really well-made
But man, I could pick about a dozen more.
What about the parties? What are
the must go to events?
Some must go to events? All of
them! Opening night and closing night both have great movies. Directors
preview party for all passes holders at Engelmanns is also a great event to experience
prior to the festival and this year our men's and women's party will have
special hosts and entertainment. The men’s party is scheduled for Friday night
and the women's party will take place on Saturday evening. The youth
pizza and froyo party, for students age 16-25, will happen on Saturday
Give us the inside information.
How does the public get the best deal to this year's festival?
Festival Passes are really the way to go. Five days of films for
as low as $95. The best deals come with Directors Level passes and above; they
allow entrance to all parties and earn you priority seating. People can check
out reelpride.com for
membership prices and perks.
“In My Own Words” is a platform for our community members to share essays, opinion, poetry, art, etc. “In My Own Words” is not the opinion of Gay Central Valley, but rather the person who submits the article. If you would like to submit something please email us at email@example.com
The tragic death of Kent (K.C.) Haggard has brought the reality of the complexity of trans issues here in Fresno. Perception within the trans community often times about the person and circumstances is often at odds the community at large. Certainly this is the case with the Haggard case.
Many self-appointed trans activists have insisted that K.C was a trans woman who was brutally murdered because she was trans. Many in the community at large differ. A recent letter in the Fresno Bee by Wayne Martin indicated "The Haggard Family deserves better than a charade fomented by a miniscule, self-serving group using the tragic death to draw attention to itself."
So there is a major problem for the trans community in perception in its visibility and protest here in Fresno and I presume other places as well.
The solution for the trans community I believe that will bring a more appropriate, not knee jerk, reaction to a horrible event is to rationally look at the situation. Each tragic event has its own set of issues and to jump to an immediate conclusion cannot happen.
What was known initially was a person dressed as a woman was stabbed. Identification indicated that the individual was Kenton Haggard. The police gendered the person as a he. The trans community immediately chastised the police for misgendering the person. She is K.C. not Kent. It became a rallying cry for protest as information surfaced from the community that K.C. was known to be trans even though the family knew nothing about it.
But more importantly than the misgendering is the conclusion that Haggard was murdered because she was trans. Wayne Martin again in the letter indicates "the video of the person's death raises far more questions than there have been answers forthcoming besides what is on the driver's license."
Looking at the facts that are evident it is clear that Haggard was out late at night in a known area known for drugs and prostitution. She was apparently hailed and approached the car and then brutally stabbed. There is no clear indication from the video what the motive was. It could be that Haggard was murdered because she was trans or for another reason totally not related to being trans at all. Hopefully if and when the police do their job and catch the murderers then the motive will become more clear.
So what should the appropriate response of the LGBT community be to a tragic event like this? It cannot be a response that is perceived to be self-serving and accusatory. Accusing the police immediately that K.C. was misgendered and showing disdain does not help perception and trying to use the media does not help. The community needs to step back from such a tragic event before it responds. Information needs to be gathered from the tragedy and the community to respond appropriately.
It was not clear initially if K.C. was involved in the trans community until some research was done to show some involvement in a local support group. It is still not clear to many that K.C. was trans but a man who dressed as a woman. To declare she absolutely is trans looks self-serving. She may have been trans but only K.C. could have made that declaration. A public protest then to promote Trans Lives Matter looks self-serving and disingenuous.
I am not sure what the appropriate response to this complex tragedy should have been. But I do know that the immediate response by self-appointed activists did little for K.C. or the trans community.
my own words..." is a platform for our community
members to share essays, poetry, art, reviews, commentary, etc. “In My Own
Words” is not the opinion of Gay Central Valley, but rather the person who
submits the article. If you would like to submit something, please email GCV at
Welcome to the introduction of Fresno’s Feminist Blog! I
hope you’ll excuse my lengthy introduction, but I prefer to use my online
handle: Sighborg Shepherd. Yes, it’s an alias I created as a sort of shout-out
to my fellow forward-looking Fresno City folk. This is a playful pun consisting
of one part empathetic “sigh” to acknowledge a certain shared apathy us
Fresnans can all relate to if we’re being honest, one part “(cy)borg” myth
wherein we imagine ourselves as both “potent fusions and dangerous possibilities”
described by Donna Haraway in a “Cyborg Manifesto: Science, Technology and
Socialist-Feminism in the Late Twentieth Century” and, finally, one part
“shepherd” in which I offer my knowledge as a queer feminist health-care
professional raised in the Valley to provide a little bit of a focus.
I am so
privileged to have been asked to contribute to Gay Central Valley’s online
community. Back in December, I started hosting book club meetings at the LGBT
center’s new location here in Fresno. I’ve been running this book club for four
years now, and I’m always looking for fresh ideas for new literature or
different projects to look at. In line with feminist ideology, the club isn’t
about trying to have one person dictate the rules of the group. I love dynamic interactions
and different viewpoints! One of my favorite memories in the whole world was
talking about feminist perspectives in the Women’s Studies Lounge back at my
alma mater, San Francisco State. With this group, I am always trying to
facilitate an environment a little like that here.
In four years, members have come and gone, but the goal has
always been the same. We get together to share personal perspectives on the
works of feminist authors, or literature with feminist undertones, themes,
characters, or authors whose names have been associated with the movement. Some
of the authors we’ve covered include: bell hooks, Alice Walker, Zora Neale
Hurston, Leslie Feinberg, Marge Piercy, Ursula K. Le Guin, Stieg Larsson, and
others. Personally, I was educated on how to look at things through an
intersectional feminist lens. Intersectionality is a framework that allows us
to examine the multiple ways our identities intersect and inform the kinds of
oppressions we face as individuals. As feminist writer and poet Audre Lorde
once said, “we do not live single-issue lives.” That is precisely the kind of
attitude I bring with me in choosing my next book. I want theoretical devices
like those used in fictional literature to enrich my understanding of who I am,
how I relate to others, and how I can be a force for positive change.
With every upcoming book club meeting, I will blog my
interpretation of the work and ask questions about the work for fellow readers
to consider. This is just to prompt discussion. I am not sure how comments on
the blog will work yet, but I will be updating news about the blog on our
Facebook site. If you are not familiar with our group, we meet either monthly
or every other month on the second Sunday of the month. The time changes
occasionally, but all the information about upcoming meetings is featured on
the Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/groups/fresnosfeministbookclub/).
Thank you for reading up on and participating with Fresno’s
Feminist Book Club!
Sighborg Shepherd is a blog
contributor for Gay Central Valley. You might find her out on the town enjoying
local brews when she’s not educating her patients on feminism, or other health