FRESNO, Calif. (KGPE/KSEE) – Bringing a safe and inclusive space for everyone has been the vision behind the Reel Pride Film Festival for the last 34 years.

The youth film series begins Friday at 11 a.m. and is free to anyone ages 16 to 22. 

Teens and young adults can come and take advantage of free films, pizza, and the resource fair. 

“When for so long you’re told that you don’t belong, at times not just told but shown you don’t belong this is an opportunity for students to engage in conversation where everyone is supporting them,” said Veronica Salmeron-Sosa, who is the Vice President of Festival Operations. 

This is the 2nd year of Reel Pride’s resource fair, where students can find information on health care, social groups, and education.

“About 8 years ago we saw an uptick in LQBTQ+ youth suicide and we understood that they needed to see themselves in other people on the big screen and we’ve been doing that ever since,” said Kathleen Arambula-Reyna, who is the Festival Director of Reel Pride.

Three different venues will host the festival over the weekend including Fresno City College, Vista Theater, and the return to Tower Theater. 

After ongoing issues including protests and legal battles in 2021 involving Tower Theater, and Adventure Church, Reel Pride decided to no longer host the event at the Tower Theater.

It was a decision that dealt a big loss to the LGBTQ+ community. 

This year they are excited to take back what they call home and safe space for the LGBTQ+ community. 

“Returning to tower theater was a goal of ours, and it will continue to be a goal of ours for many years,” said Arambula-Reyna. 

Opening night is Friday night at Tower Theater featuring the musical Glitter and Doom. 

Tickets can be purchased at the door, with ticket prices starting at $10 dollars. 

Events will also include an after-party at Splash on Friday night and Brunch on Sunday. 

Organizers hope people leave with a greater sense of community and come with an open mind to receive the variety of LGBTQ+ films.

“Bring films of joy that are uplifting that show us as real people because that’s really who we are in terms of our community,” said  Arambula-Reyna. “We’re doctors, we’re lawyers, we’re everything, we’re the next door neighbor, we’re the sons and the daughters.”

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