When Queer Lounge returns to Park City, Utah, in January for its fifth Sundance Film Festival appearance, it will bring along with it a new media partner: the Gay Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD).

“We are in an historic era of gay visibility in film,” GLAAD President Neil G. Giuliano said in a release.

“As our community fights every day for equality before the law, Queer Lounge helps change hearts and minds by broadening the reach of independent films telling the stories of every day lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.”

Queer Lounge was founded independently in 2003 by former film executive Ellen Huang to build bridges between mainstream and “queer-friendly” films and professionals.

Through its educational programming and central location at festivals, Queer Lounge increases the crossover appeal of films with lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) content.

GLAAD has licensed Queer Lounge as a media programme to complement its ongoing entertainment media advocacy.

“Over the past five years, Queer Lounge has become a trusted advocate for queer-friendly films and filmmakers,” Huang said in a release.

“Joining with GLAAD will take Queer Lounge to the next level and enable it to become an even more powerful resource for the industry.”

“Queer Lounge offers a vital opportunity to raise the visibility of films with gay content as a means of increasing understanding and tolerance,” GLAAD Senior Director of Media Programs Rashad Robinson said.

“The addition of Queer Lounge to GLAAD’s programmatic efforts increases our capacity to ensure fair, accurate and inclusive representations of our community in the media.”

During the 2008 festivals in Park City, Queer Lounge will host similar educational and industry discussions, as well as GLAAD’s “And the Nominees Are” event announcing the 19th Annual GLAAD Media Awards nominees.

ABSOLUT Vodka, an inaugural sponsor of Queer Lounge in 2004, will return as a Presenting Sponsor in 2008.

Queer Lounge has previously had a successful presence during Sundance and at the Toronto International Film Festival.

Panel discussions are held during each festival centering on thematic ties of LGBT films.

During the 2007 festivals in Park City, Queer Lounge hosted several panel discussions, including the panel “Gays, Faith Film,” featuring the cast and filmmakers of For the Bible Tells Me So and Save Me, and the producer of A Jihad for Love.

The panel explored how the three films navigated the reconciliation of religious faith with gay orientation, and was broadly declared by attendees as one of the best panel discussions they had ever attended during the festivals in Park City.

At the 2006 Toronto Film Festival, Queer Lounge hosted an invitation-only industry brunch followed by a panel discussion entitled “Post-Brokeback: New Horizons in Financing LGBT Film.”

At that festival, and at the Park City festivals each year from 2004 through 2007, Queer Lounge has also produced a comprehensive programme guide to films with LGBT content or filmmakers.

Chrys Hudson © 2007 GayWired.com; All Rights Reserved.