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Pittsburgh Filmmakers Program for Queer Kids of All Ages

On May 12, 2018 Pittsburgh’s queer families and their allies gathered for a two-part event at Pittsburgh Filmmakers.  The fun began in the gallery with Drag Queen Story Hour and continued in the Melwood Screening room with Over the Rainbow a 50-minute program of nine queer and experimental shorts for kids of all ages.

Parents and children enjoyed three books read out loud by local Drag Queen, Miss Akasha L. Van-Cartier, including Thelma the UnicornBruce’s Big Move, and Little Red and the Very Hungry Lion.  Van-Cartier looked regal in a leopard-print dress and cape with a feathered hat.  Creative outfits are an important to Van-Cartier, whose costumes are designed by her husband, Sam Greenking.  

Queen, Akasha L. Van-Cartier, holds children’s books.

“Playing dress-up can make story time magical – this is something that parents can do at home,” says Van-Cartier. In between books, Caitie Morphew, a children’s specialist at Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, lead sing-alongs with gestures, clapping, colorful scarves and even a bubble machine.  Van-Cartier and Morphew have worked together at the Carnegie Library, which regularly presents “Drag Queen Story Hour.” Their goals are to “celebrate diversity, promote self-acceptance and gender expression and honor each child as an individual” but the kids in attendance at Filmmakers just seemed to be having fun.

After story hour, the audience moved into the theater for Over the Rainbow: Queer and Experimental Shorts for Kids of All Ages.  Curated by artists Hilary Harp and Suzie Silver, the screening included international short films on difference, gender variance, and anti-bullying. Some of the films touched on gay subjects, such as “In a Heartbeat” by Beth David and Esteban Bravo, about a closeted boy who is outed by his own heart and “The Little Merman: Part of Your World” about a merman who lures prince charming by playing the violin.

Canadian film-maker Barb Taylor’s “Tomboy” is about a girl named Alex, who likes boy things. After Alex is teased at school, her mother assures her “You’ll never be a girl like other girls, and you don’t have to be…ever since there have been girls and boys there have been girls who like to do boy things and boys who like to do girl things.” Other films, such as Luke Meeken and Andrew Negrey’s “The Little Fox,” and Yulia Aranova’s “My Mom is an Airplane” are beautiful experimental animations.  “Our goal is to create an event in which queer families can gather and enjoy both affirming representations and fantastic world-class short films. While some of the films can be viewed on the internet, we feel that our audiences have a more meaningful experience when they come together in a theater.” said Harp. Over the RainbowDrag Queen Story Hour and another screening, Out in the Woods: Queer Folk and Fairy Tales were Harp & Silver’s contribution to Pittsburgh Filmmakers’ Luna Experimental Film series.

For more information about upcoming Drag Queen Story Hour events at the Carnegie Library, go here

For more information about Harp & Silver’s “Fairy Fantastic!”:  fairyfantastic.org

For more information about Pittsburgh Filmmakers: filmmakers.pfpca.org

This article originally appeared on QueerPgh.com. This article is preserved as a part of the Q Archives project. Please consider donating to help preserve Pittsburgh’s Queer history.