FilmScene determined to provide LGBTQ youth with safe space after Pride Month

On June 16, FilmScene helped to celebrate Iowa City Pride by screening ‘Paris is Burning.’ However, beyond Pride Month, the once-a-month tradition of showing LGBTQ movies has been a long-standing cornerstone of FilmScene.


Daniel McGregor-Huyer

An electronic sign of “Paris is Burning” is seen at Filmscene’s Chauncey location on June 16, 2022.

Ariana Lessard, Arts Reporter

As June comes to a close, and Pride Month concludes, the LGBTQ community of Iowa City will continue to exist, whether or not they choose to outwardly celebrate it. Local cinema FilmScene intends to affirm this.

FilmScene, in accordance with Iowa City Pride, hosted a screening of the iconic 1990 LGBTQ film, Paris is Burning on June 16.

However, FilmScene, since its founding, has always strived to provide a safe space for the LGBTQ communities of Iowa City and surrounding areas.

FilmScene’s programming director, Ben Delgado, explained that dating back to the cinema’s founding, when it only had one location with a single screen in the Ped Mall, the company has hosted a once-a-month screening of an LGBTQ-relevant film.

“It’s an opportunity to make sure that we’re celebrating queer film and queer artists, regularly with a series, and it bolsters those films to be in a series,” Delgado said. “We’ve treated it as an ongoing film festival, so to speak.”

The “festival” occurs on the third Thursday of every month and the schedule for Pride Month was well-aligned with Iowa City Pride’s week-long celebration. Delgado explained that Iowa City Pride and FilmScene have a long history of working together, as Iowa City Pride helped to develop FilmScene’s monthly tradition of screening an LGBTQ-relevant film.

RELATED: FilmScene’s Blue Carpet Bash brought film lovers together to celebrate the Oscars

This year, they showcased Paris is Burning. However, they have every intention of continuing their long-held tradition of showing a LGBTQ movie every month.

Calvin Brickner, a rising Sophomore at the University of Iowa, has lived in a suburb of Chicago for most of his life. He has been a proud member of the LGBTQ community since his early teenage years and faced many challenges for this.

“Rather than the sluggish lazy river of heteronormativity, I row into uncharted waters. This is not an easy thing,” Brickner said in a text interview.

Jane Keranen, FilmScene’s programming assistant, expressed her desire for FilmScene’s screenings to help provide for LGBTQ youth of Iowa City.

“It’s just important to give gay people an opportunity to not be ashamed,” Keranen said. “…you’re not told something is wrong with you for being straight. You need an accessible space to be able to be yourself and to be celebrated.”