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Chicago Tribune: Chicago's Reeling fest: The second-oldest LGBTQ+ film showcase looks to a new era

By Michael Phillips

September 15, 2023

In April 1981, a year before “Making Love” and “Personal Best” ventured, cautiously, into the realm of mainstream studio dramas involving queer and bisexual characters, Chicago Filmmakers executive director Brenda Webb launched a festival known as Reeling.

By most accounts, it’s the second-oldest LGBTQ+ film festival in the U.S., after San Francisco’s, which began in 1977. At that time, Webb says, “mainstream films portrayed homosexuality in either a negative or basically pathetic light. Everyone was a victim. You always knew the gay character was going to die. The stereotypical impression was of the men as fairies and the women as predatory dykes. You know. Not a very pretty picture.”

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