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Love Potion No. 9 

Pikes Peak Lavender Film Festival sticks to the plan

In Ready? OK! Lurie Poston hopes to measure up as a cheerleader.
  • In Ready? OK! Lurie Poston hopes to measure up as a cheerleader.

When the Pikes Peak Lavender Film Festival first lit up movie screens here, "the town had a horrible reputation around the world in the gay community," remembers festival director Alma Cremonesi. When you mentioned Colorado Springs, she says, talk immediately turned to the notorious Amendment 2 or Focus on the Family.

"It was heartbreaking to us, as LGBT [lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender] people, to see what was happening here, because this had been one of the warmest, nicest places you'd ever want to live during the '60s and '70s," she says. "Everybody was interested in you, and embraced you, and encouraged you to be part of the community. And then all of a sudden, we were inundated by this terrible hatred and we wanted to do something about that."

What they did was create a festival they hoped would not only entertain, but educate. This year that hope continues as the three-day festival brings nine feature films and nine shorts to Colorado College's Armstrong Hall and Cornerstone Arts Center.

"First, I hope that LGBT people will feel validated," says Cremonesi. "And secondly, I hope they learn just how many friends we have in Colorado Springs."

For straight viewers, Cremonesi hopes the films can help them see LGBT people more fully.

"Years ago, if there was a gay character in a movie, he usually was swishy and had a high voice, those kinds of things," she says. "Now if you watch the films in the Pikes Peak Lavender Film Festival, you see the complexity of human beings and you see the complexity of gay people."

Cremonesi points to a variety of factors influencing these changes from films like Brokeback Mountain to people like Mike Jones, who outed New Life Church founder Ted Haggard.

"For people who are kind of on the edge who don't necessarily embrace gay people, but who want to understand more this is a good place to start," she says.

What they'll find at the festival are a variety of films from the U.S. and a couple foreign countries that include LGBT characters ranging from school-age kids to adults, from cheerleaders to religious leaders.

"In some of the films, the lesbian or the gay man is central to the story, and sometimes they're just very peripheral," says Cremonesi, who laughs as she adds, "A lot of people thought we were showing porn when we first started. Because whenever you say 'gay' or 'lesbian,' they think of sex. But of course, that's not the case at all. These really are films with a lot of taste."

But good taste doesn't preclude partying, and Cremonesi says the festival will offer plenty of that as well. In addition to Q&As with filmmakers and cast members, the festival will feature an opening-night reception with food, wine and beer, plus after-parties on Saturday at the Underground (110 N. Nevada Ave.) and Sunday at Metropolis (1201 W. Colorado Ave.).

"That Colorado Springs hosts the longest-running LGBT film festival in Colorado makes a difference," says Cremonesi. "So if you feel strongly about that that you wish Colorado Springs had a more balanced or better image then this might be something you want to support and enjoy."

jill@csindy.com

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  • Organizers have dealt with city "having a horrible reputation" among gays.

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