Rejecting calls by some gay activists for a boycott of the Sundance Film Festival, the gay-friendly Queer Lounge intends to return to Park City during January's festival.
The decision by the Queer Lounge, which is an established hotspot for gays and heterosexuals, comes amid tensions spurred by Proposition 8, the ballot measure California voters passed against gay marriage.
There has been talk about a boycott of Sundance by people who link the Proposition 8 results to the Salt Lake City-based Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It has been difficult, however, to gauge how deep the boycott groundswell is.
The Queer Lounge's decision to press forward with its plans in Park City for 2009 provides an inkling that the boycott could not be as widespread as the supporters want. An executive with the Queer Lounge said gays and lesbians in the film industry support the lounge's decision to return to Park City in 2009.
Ellen Huang, who is the founder and the program director of the Queer Lounge, said in an interview the not-for-profit organization is "galvanized" as Sundance approaches.
"It's more important for us to be in Utah. It's more important for us because of the passage of Prop 8 in California," she said, adding, "There were actually a number of organizations looking to us to take the lead."
The Queer Lounge plans its 2009 edition in rented space at 608 Main St. It is scheduled to be open Jan. 15-21. It will be the Queer Lounge's sixth year in Park City for Sundance and the second year under the umbrella of the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, a national gay-rights organization that is commonly known through its acronym, GLAAD.
In a prepared statement issued in November, Neil Giuliano, the president of GLAAD, explained the decision to open the Queer Lounge in 2009, saying attending Sundance is important for gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people.
"To not do so would render the LGBT community invisible at this critical entertainment industry gathering, and nothing would make our adversaries happier than if we were to render ourselves invisible," he said in the statement, calling Sundance "their single most important opportunity to ensure their stories about our community reach a broad audience."
The Queer Lounge started as a place for gays and heterosexuals to gather during the festival, and it quickly became a well-known spot during the festival. It has been situated in several different places since its founding. The Queer Lounge puts on panel discussions and parties, and Huang wants to arrange a panel to address gay rights and Proposition 8 during Sundance.
Huang expects gays and lesbians will attend the film festival, depending on the economy. She said the boycott call does not appear to be gaining traction. Filmmakers she talks to about Sundance, Huang said, plan to attend the festival.
"They don't see Sundance, in any way, as an enemy," she said.
Huang, though, said she cannot predict whether people will boycott the Sundance movies shown at the Holiday Village 4 movie theater. There have been calls for people to not go to movies there based on Proposition 8 donations linked to theater owner Cinemark.
"I definitely think the air will be electric," she said. "It will be an undercurrent, of course."