By Josh Watkins
Our queer hearts are swelling because OUTsider returns to Austin this Valentine’s Day weekend, February 14 to 18. The queer transmedia festival, known for pushing artistic boundaries, meshes all creative disciplines (film, performances, music, writing, and visual art) for a provocative, out-of-the-box experience.
OUTsider is the brainchild of a small group of queer artists and friends who were inspired by Austin’s unparalleled queer culture. They recognized the need for an exploratory artistic space to match the city’s burgeoning queer scene and, in 2013, founded the festival.
“There is so much brilliant queer art that deserves to be seen…especially in the South, where these opportunities can be rare and a restorative lifeline,” explains Curran Nault, founding member and artistic director of OUTsider. “[LGBTQ people] have been ignored for so long and have so many stories left to tell. Gay marriage is not the happily ever after. There are still real struggles and spectacular triumphs that artistic expression can illuminate and elevate.”
The festival aims to spotlight the most overlooked and unrepresented LGBTQ voices (aka “OUTsiders”) and to create a space that blurs the lines between audience and artists in fun and generative ways. “People of color, transgender, and other marginalized voices take center stage at the fest,” Nault says. “OUTsider offers [an] uncommon creative community in a world that is increasingly divided and disappearing behind its computer screens.”
OUTsider kicks off with a “Queer Slowdance” party on Valentine’s Day, which promises to be “the queer dance of your junior high dreams…with cute cozy queer vibes and dedicated dancers to boot.” Other highlights of the weekend-long fest will include an early career retrospective of multidisciplinary artist Brontez Purnell, an interactive “learnshop” on queer zines, and a screening of Me and Mr. Mauri, a documentary that takes an intimate look into the lives of Latinx and Native American individuals confronting AIDS in the 1990s.
The festival will also include a presentation of its annual Legacy Award (which honors an “artist who embodies the best qualities of being a cultural misfit”) to director Lizzie Borden and the women of Born in Flames. A 35th anniversary screening of the film, followed by a extended conversation with Borden, will take place on Friday night. “[Born in Flames is a] queer-feminist and POC agitprop classic!” Nault exclaims. “Fiery and fabulous intersectionality before the concept was coined.”
Young, old, queer, straight, and in-between are welcome at OUTsider. Visit outsiderfest.org for tickets and the full festival schedule. Spectrum South will be on site covering this year’s OUTsider events. Make sure to follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter so you don’t miss a thing!