The News Site of Fresno City College

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The News Site of Fresno City College

The Rampage Online

The News Site of Fresno City College

The Rampage Online

A Celebration of Film, Art and Inclusivity: The 34th Annual Reel Pride Festival

Photo by: Anthony Corda
The exterior of the Tower Theater is shown with the marque advertising the Reel Pride Film Festival along with the dates that the festival would take place on Sept. 30, 2023. ‘Films for everyone’ was the theme this year.

The 34th Annual Reel Pride film festival took place Sept. 29 through Oct. 1. The festival centers around films by and about the LGBTQIA+ community and were shown at the Tower Theater as well as others in the Tower District.

The festivities began on Friday at 11 a.m. with a free Youth Film Series and Resource Fair held at the Fresno City College (FCC) Theater. The first feature film, Glitter & Doom, premiered that evening at 6 p.m.

Afterward, an opening party was held at the Reel Pride Lounge located in the Tower Theater, followed by a late night after party at Splash! Video Bar.

Saturday was the beginning of the Religious Film Series at the FCC Theater followed by a Q&A with local religious leaders. At the VISTA Theater, additional Free Youth Films were showcased and at 4 p.m., Big Easy Queens was shown at the Tower Theater, followed by a Q&A.

The men’s feature film entitled “Pornomelancholia,” a highly erotic, arthouse, slice-of-life film was shown at 7 p.m. at the Tower Theater on Saturday. The theater was partially full and the mood was fun and loose.

After the showing of “Pornomeloncholia,” Reel Pride attendee Greggory Gonzales said that the film was enjoyable, but slow at parts. The scenes featuring intercourse where the main character was on set to shoot a scene went on for a little while, but Gonzales said it wasn’t completely unenjoyable.

Gonzales said he enjoys going to Reel Pride because it is a fun way to connect with his community.

After the film, another after-party event was held in the Reel Pride Lounge. This time, it was a special edition of the PRQ Male Harness Night.

PRQ is a company that hosts gogo dancers at events that wear little else besides a harness. The events usually take place at Splash.

On Sunday, a champagne brunch was held at the Reel Pride Lounge, followed by the trans feature film titled, “Monica.”

The women’s feature film, “It’s Only Life After All,” a documentary about the 90s indie band, the Indigo Girls, was shown at the Tower Theater.

That evening, the final film shown was the presidential pick, “Our Son” at the Tower Theater. The festival drew to a close with a party that was held at 8 p.m. at the Reel Pride Lounge.

Major sponsors included the Fresno Economic Opportunities Commission, FCC, Splash Video Dance Bar, Community Media Access Collaborative(CMAC), among others.

The interior of the Tower Theater where the audience was just beginning to fill in the seats for the men’s feature film, Pornocholia on Sept. 30, 2023. The Reel Pride 34 sign stand lit on the stage. Photo by Anthony Corda.

Reel Pride Board Member and Treasurer, Nickolas Valencia-Lucio, feels that Reel Pride is important for the LGBTQIA+ community.

“It allows us to see ourselves outside of our own lives and on the silver screen,” Valencia-Lucio said.

Valencia-Lucio has served on the board for the last four years, this year being his first as interim treasurer. He said what keeps him committed to serving on the board is the importance of spaces such as Reel Pride continuing in the community.

“It’s an important piece of our culture to be able to have a space where there’s people that look like me and I look like everyone else where you can walk in and it feels like home,” Valencia-Lucio said.

James Martinez, member of the Fresno County Board of Education and sponsor of the event, remembers when he was younger, still discovering his own identity and truth, Reel Pride weekend was the first time he realized that there were other like-minded individuals that shared that same truth.

“It was such a transformative experience seeing others, like minded individuals, in a place celebrating not just community but also theater and art and how that makes such an impactful difference in our lives,” Martinez said.

Martinez said the stories told through film and art resonate and are deeply personal to those within the community. He said it is one of the few times the LGBTQIA+ community can display the vibrancy and sense of community with everyone.

When he attended FCC, Martinez said he often thought about how he would love to participate in Reel Pride one day.

“And now, X amount of years later, I get to be a sponsor and be part of the whole experience,” Martinez said.

Martinez takes comfort in the fact that he gets to keep Reel Pride going for future generations as a trustee on the board of education.

“As someone who is a firm believer in educating and informing, I think this is one of those great experiences and events where we get to do that in a very non-traditional way that is not in books, it’s not coming from a protest, it’s art,” Martinez said. “You get to showcase it, you get to see it and experience it and it’s tangible.”

The film that resonated most with Martinez was “Golden Delicious,” a film about a young man who tries out for a basketball team to get the attention of a boy he likes. He said he experienced the same anxiety coming out to his parents that the character experienced in the film.

“I’m my dad’s only son and he grew up with 10 brothers, I was like, ‘Oh God,’” Martinez said.

However, Martinez said things went surprisingly well.

“I did mine on Father’s Day of all days, I had impeccable timing,” Martinez said. “I cried, he hugged me and said ‘you’re always going to be my son, I’ll always love you. I’m just glad I finally get to know the real you.”


This article was edited on Oct. 5, 2023 to correct how long Nickolas Valencia-Lucio has been board treasurer. 

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About the Contributor
Anthony Corda, Reporter
Anthony Corda is 36 years old and currently enrolled in the Journalism for Transfer program at Fresno City College with the intent to transfer to Fresno State University in the spring. Originally born in Wichita Falls, Texas, Anthony has been a resident of Washington State as well as Alaska before settling in Fresno, California in 1997. Anthony currently works as a marketing analyst with a focus on mass communications and journalism. He also works as a documenter for The pursuit of knowledge, information and social justice have always been the cornerstone of his passions. Since 2016, he has come to realize the vitality of ethical news reporting and he hopes to somehow leave his mark in the world by way of his prose with the intention of building bridges instead driving wedges. Some of his interests include pop culture, the horror genre, music, film, books, as well as anything that is part of a synthwave aesthetic. He has recently taken up painting and collage making and loves the fighting game genre. Street Fighter VI is where he currently showcases his skills. He has been a casual, yet competitive fighting game player since his childhood. Other games he enjoys include the Fallout series as well as the Elder Scrolls series and Resident Evil. Some of his favorite films include the Halloween franchise, The Paranormal Activity franchise, The Exorcist, Grandma’s Boy, Mrs. Doubtfire, The 40-Year-Old Virgin and pretty much anything done by Judd Apatow and/or Seth Rogen.

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