Metro Weekly

Taste the Rainbow: Baltimore Pride’s Rainbow Fest

Baltimore serves up a three-day festival of queer culture that includes a must-see showing of Stu Maddux's Reel in the Closet

Reel Closet

Reel in the Closet

The weekend after Baltimore Pride comes the 5th annual Rainbow Fest, renamed from the Charm City LGBTQA Film Festival and expanded to include stand-up comedy, spoken word poetry, live music, and ending with a drag party. It kicks off tonight, Thursday, July 28, with a Tiki Kiki Happy Hour in the Marquee Lounge, followed by readings from Intimacy Idiot, a collection of funny essays by Baltimore native Isaac Oliver.

A program of dramatic shorts and Brian O’Donnell and Sasha King’s gay football love story Akron are presented Friday, while Saturday offers a program of comedic shorts plus Reel in the Closet, a documentary by Stu Maddux (Gen Silent) revealing the lives of everyday LGBT people and their families drawn from private tapes and videos dating back as early as the 1930s.

“Home movies of gay house parties and vacation reels from the 1940s reveal the joyful exuberance and comfortable ease of social gatherings that would have been possible to witness only behind closed doors,” writes Michael LoPresti for the 2015 film’s World Premiere at San Francisco’s esteemed Frameline film festival. “A film shot in Mona’s Candle Light, a lesbian “bohemian bar” in North Beach, features performances from a sultry chanteuse and a woman in a smart tan suit. Later clips include works made by an early gay video-art collective, first-person documentation of Mattachine Society and ACT UP political activities, taped television news stories covering Anita Bryant and the Briggs Initiative, and raw news footage of the White Night riots in San Francisco.”

The festival concludes Saturday, July 30, with a drag party starting at 9:30 p.m. hosted by Betty O’Hellno and featuring drag performances inspired by classic film stars. Which begs the question: Who’s taking on Marlene?

Creative Alliance at the Patterson, 3134 Eastern Ave. Baltimore. Tickets are $12 per film program, $20 for the Isaac Oliver reading, and $10 for the drag party, or $30 for a weekend pass. Call 410-276-1651 or visit

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Doug Rule covers the arts, theater, music, food, nightlife and culture as contributing editor for Metro Weekly.

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