Local film-making charity Number 8 Films is to host its first gay film night in Nelson next month, in association with GLBT advocacy group Q-Youth, who are raising funds for their drop-in centre.
The screening of the popular New York gay comedy “Violet Tendencies” takes place at the Suter Theatre on Sunday 10 April at 7pm as part of Nelson Pride Week, and will feature out and proud Olympian speed skater Blake Skjellerup as a guest speaker.
“GLBT people rarely have the opportunity to see themselves reflected on screen, especially outside big cities,” says Andy Jalfon of Number 8 Films, who will be attending the screening. “We’re excited to be teaming up with Q-Youth for this community event, which will be really social, affirming and fun.
“To have Blake Skjellerup in attendance is a particular highlight for us. Director Christopher Banks and I make films about the lives of New Zealand gay men that get seen around the world, but Blake isn’t a character, he’s real, he’s out there as a gay man and an Olympian who represents our country and stands up for our communities.”
Skjellerup will be in Nelson for several weeks visiting high schools and attending the Q-Youth Hui, speaking out against homophobia and telling his own personal story of being bullied as a gay teenager.
“I was teased for being gay, and because of the sport I played,” he says. “I was made to feel like I was less of a human being. I knew that wasn’t true, but it still had detrimental effects on my time at high school. It’s emotional, some people can handle it and others can’t, and I want the kids who are out there who aren’t handling it to know that it eventually will be ok, no matter what people say to them.”
Seb Stewart, executive director of Q-Youth, says having Blake in town for the film night and his school speaking engagements will give a higher profile to the work they do to protect vulnerable GLBT youth in high schools, who are at higher risk of self-harm and suicide, as well as raising funds for their drop-in centre.
“Our drop in centre is a life line for many young GLBT kids in Nelson,” he says. “A large number of kids we see are ‘out’ to us, but not at home or school, so this is the only environment that they’re validated for who they are, feel safe to form meaningful relationships, safe to be themselves and be proud of being the normal, functioning, healthy human beings that they are.”
Stewart says he’s looking forward to hosting a wide range of Nelson’s GLBT communities, older people as well as youth, at the film night event.
“GLBT people, especially youth, are often kept invisible – this is a chance to get together with your peers and celebrate being a community. Having Blake come along to speak, as a sporting hero that we can be proud of, shows that you can be visible as a gay person in society and in sport and not feel excluded.”
Tickets for the film night are available online at www.number8films.com and at the Q-Youth Drop In Centre in New St, Nelson, next to the New Hub. Tickets are $20 for adults and $10 for students/unwaged.
A portion of the proceeds raised will be donated to Q-Youth for refurbishment of its drop-in centre and to sponsor GLBT youth to attend Kazam, a national queer youth hui in Auckland this June.