Gilbert Baker Film Festival
The first Gilbert Baker Film Festival came about because Aaron Casserly Stewart, the city commissioner of Parsons (Kansas) in 2017, had wanted to honor Gilbert Baker, the creator of the Rainbow Flag. Gilbert had conceived of the idea of having a film festival as a way to educate the community as well as celebrate LGBTQIA+ Pride. Unfortunately, Gilbert died in 2017 before the first film festival was held. The committee who worked with him proceeded to hold the first festival. It was a small festival but it was a beginning. Labette Community College provided space for the festival, and a picture of the flag raising ceremony graced the cover of the local paper, the Parsons Sun.
Since 2017, Gilbert Baker Film Festival has successfully run its festival each year (in coordination with sites such as Parsons High School and Parsons Public Library), and the festival continued to deliver on Gilbert’s vision and legacy to unite and educate the LGBTQIA+ community with films.
The history of Gilbert Baker Film Festival
2017: The inaugural Gilbert Baker Film Festival.
The first festival came about because Aaron Casserly Stewart, Parsons city commissioner in 2017, had wanted to honor Gilbert Baker, the creator of the Rainbow Flag. Gilbert conceived of the idea for the Gilbert Baker Film Festival with a group of his friends. The Festival was to be a celebration of LGBTQIA+ Pride in his old stomping grounds of Parsons, KS. Knowing that Parsons is a town in rural Southeast Kansas, Gilbert wanted to have an event that could showcase the accomplishments of the LGBTQIA+ community without a parade. Unfortunately, Gilbert died in 2017 before the first film festival was held. The committee working with him proceeded to hold the first festival. It was a small festival but it was a beginning. The town responded to requests to fly the Pride flag and showed support through attendance. Labette Community College provided space and a picture of the flag raising ceremony graced the cover of the local paper, the Parsons Sun.
2018: There was no festival in 2018. The Gilbert Baker Film Festival Committee was restructured. A group of people who want Gilbert’s dream to reach its potential began working towards having another Film Festival.
2019: Gilbert Baker Film Festival coordinated with the Parsons High School Class that Gilbert would have graduated with if he had stated stayed in Parsons. They had their high school reunion on the weekend of the Festival. The committee decided that holding the 2019 Gilbert Baker Film Festival in October would afford his classmates the opportunity to attend both events.
2020: Due to the pandemic the film festival moved online and went global.
2021: A bigger festival programme was planned with the goal to honor the legacy of Gilbert Baker by connecting communities and reaching marginalized, isolated, rural LGBTQIIA+, Sapphic, Achillean, or Diamoric attendees worldwide. With this common goal in mind, Gilbert Baker Film Festival Team teamed up with Lesflicks to deliver the festival virtually and on a global platform!
Vision for 2022:
The GBFF Committee strongly believes in Gilbert Baker’s vision to unite the LGBTQ+ community around the world so everyone feels seen, heard, valued, loved, and represented. The online/virtual format extends our reach and includes those in remote areas so that they may be able to attend and participate.
We hope to continue our filmmaker Q&A’s , watch parties, and discussions for our LGBTQ+ film-loving community.
We look forward to seeing you there!!!
Festival Mission Statement
- To protect, to celebrate, and to extend the legacy of Gilbert Baker, hometown hero and the creator of the LGBTQIA+ Rainbow Flag, as an activist, an artist, and an educator.
- To record and to promote the history of the creation of the Rainbow Flag and its impact on the world.
- To educate future generations about the internationally-recognizable LGBTQIA+ Rainbow Flag.
- To create awareness of/about the LGBTQIA+ community through the medium of film and animation.
- To support and to empower our mission on a collaborative level between the Foundation and it’s allies, including the LGBTQIA+ community, artists, organizations, educational institutions, non-profits, museums, archives and the press.
- To promote this mission internationally to the wider world beyond the LGBTQIA+ community.
Together we are stronger, together we champion acceptance, diversity, human rights, and unity, and bring hope, community, and positive representation to the world.