Ever wanted to attend a film festival exclusively for LGBTQ+ films? Want to have a chance to party with up-and-coming filmmakers and your favorite queer celebrity crush? Whether it’s beach hopping between films in Honolulu or exploring the desert oasis of Santa Fe we’ve got you covered.
Get in touch with your inner art critic by attending one of these 15 fabulous LGBTQ+ film festivals in the United States:
Frameline – San Francisco
Each year, queer cinephiles descend upon San Francisco to see the best in cinema over ten days in June. Since 1977, Frameline Film Festival has created a fun and inviting atmosphere for film buffs to connect with each other and celebrate the diversity of the queer community. The festival features a wide array of films, ranging from feature-length dramas and documentaries to shorts and experimental works.
The festival is held at the world-renowned Castro Theatre. Built in 1922, this century-old church of cinema creates a magical movie-watching experience with its ornate art-deco interior and iconic Wurlitzer organ. The organ player, who rises from the orchestra pit on a platform, is a sight to behold—and a treat for the ears! Sitting in the theatre’s velvet pews, you can feel the history surrounding you, making it a special place for locals and travelers alike.
Following the screenings, audiences are invited to participate in panel discussions and Q&A sessions with the filmmakers. Frameline also hosts glam opening and closing night galas, parties, and receptions that are packed with notables from the film industry.
Frameline Film Festival is celebrating its 47th year from June 14 – 23, 2023. Don’t sleep on an access pass to enjoy the full selection of over 100+ queer films whether that be at venues throughout the bay or streaming in the privacy of your own home.
NewFest – NYC
Now in its 35th year, NewFest shines a spotlight on queer movies and media, juxtaposing big names such as Demi Moore and Academy Award winner Dustin Lance Black with indy darlings like Drew Droege and The Cockettes. Last year’s highlights included Authentic Voices of Pride presented by Chevrolet, a 360-degree program tackling some of the LGBTQ+ community’s most important issues, All Man: The International Male Story, which explored the homoerotic clothing catalog that provided a generation of gay teens with masturbatory material, and Keep the Cameras Rolling: The Pedro Zamora, a documentary about the eponymous gay Real World alum.
Since festival venues are spread across NYC, NewFest creates many opportunities to explore Manhattan as well as Brooklyn in between showtimes. As a longtime homo-haven, Brooklyn provides an apt backdrop for NewFest, reaching back to the 1800s when poet Walt Whitman spent the bulk of his career writing in the borough. This queer tradition continues into contemporary times, where it serves as stomping grounds for Gotham’s edgier LGBTQ+ communities, providing a counterbalance to the more mainstream ‘mos of Chelsea and Hells Kitchen.
Although the bulk of NewFest’s programming will be during October, the organization hosts social events, filmmaker Q&As, and queer narrative workshops throughout the year. Save the date for the 35th Annual New York LGBTQ+ Film Festival from October 12-24, 2023.
OutFest – Los Angeles
It’s no surprise that Los Angeles has one of the most prolific LGBTQ+ film festivals in the US, but what makes OutFest stand out is its dedication to supporting queer people in the film industry whether that’s from its screenwriting lab to its actor fellowship. Did we mention the organization also has a virtual museum that chronicles queer film and filmmakers throughout the globe?
OutFest will be held from July 13 – 23, 2023 at some of Los Angeles’ most iconic venues, including the Directors Guild of America, The Orpheum Theater, and The Ford.
Unleashed LGBTQ – Dallas
Unleashed LGBTQ, a first-of-its-kind conference and entertainment festival, announced that Billy Eichner and Dyllón Burnside have been added to its star-studded roster — joining Antoni Porowski (“Queer Eye”), Indya Moore Emmy (“POSE” & “Aquaman”), and many more. Taking place in Dallas from September 22 – 24, 2023, this will be the first live and in-person conference.
Nicknamed the gay SXSW, each day at Unleashed LGBTQ will begin with workshops and panel discussions. The conference will feature high-tech brand activations and experiential marketing installments throughout the venue, as well as drag shows, stand-up comedy, and musical performances in the evenings. Unleashed LGBTQ is also partnering with the iconic Alamo Drafthouse to host screenings of new content from streaming services, movie studios, and television networks.
Honolulu Rainbow Film Festival
Each September as the mainland starts to fall into its autumnal cocoon, the Honolulu Rainbow Film Festival heats up Hawaii by showcasing fresh voices and entertainment by LGBTQ+ icons from around the globe. What’s a better excuse to travel to this tropical island paradise?
This year’s festival will run from September 8 – 10, 2023.
Seattle Queer Film Festival
The Seattle Queer Film Festival is more than the largest LGBTQ+ film event in the Pacific Northwest, it’s a container for the city’s queer activist community and the curators of some damn good parties. The organization is also the creator of the Seattle Trans Film Festival which amplifies voices through workshops, panels, and a gala featuring local performers.
This year’s festival will be held October 12 – 22, 2023.
Out on Film – Atlanta
Atlanta has recently become a film hotspot thanks to the large amount of production companies that have picked up shop there, fueled by low tax credits and incentives to film in the area.
Out on Film, Atlanta’s LGBTQ+ film festival, has mirrored this expansion and is currently one of two Oscar-qualifying film festivals. The event typically takes place the last week of September and runs through early October.
QDoc – Portland, OR
Devoted specifically to queer documentaries, Portland’s own LGBTQ+ film festival screens films from throughout the globe each year. The festival looks to screen its collection of queer documentaries from November 10-12, 2023.
Way Out West Film Fest – New Mexico
This intimate queer festival screens films throughout venues in Santa Fe and Albuquerque. Dazzling drag shows and rowdy dance parties often follow screenings where you can find New Mexico’s queer community rubbing elbows with international LGBTQ+ filmmakers. They don’t call this state “The Land of Enchantment” for no reason! The 2022 festival was exclusively virtual screenings, but rumor has it that this year’s festival will be held in person from October 20 – 29, 2023.
Out in CT – Hartford, CT
Connecticut’s longest-running film festival not only curates a selection of LGBTQ+ films each fall, but it also holds a monthly film series to satisfy your queer film cravings. Don’t miss this year’s festivities from October 6 – 15, 2023.
Tampa Bay International Gay and Lesbian Film Festival
Florida’s west coast LGBTQ+ film festival has been uplifting queer voices since 1990, and now curates a BIPOC film festival called Queer in Color (June 17th & 18th), as well as the Tampa Bay Transgender Film Festival (March 31 – April 2nd). We expect the Tampa Bay International Film Festival to run from October 6 – 15, 2023.
Outshine – Florida
Internationally acclaimed as one of the largest LGBTQ+ film festivals in the world, OUT Shine celebrated its 25th anniversary at its new home at Silverspot Cinema Miami. Attendees enjoyed a dinner-at-your-seats luxury experience followed by a dessert celebration after-party. The Festival spans a course of 11 days, showcasing over 65 features, shorts, and documentaries from all around the world that inspire, entertain, and educate along with a variety of parties and special events.
Plan a trip to OUT Shine, and the fabulous host city Miami, next year in mid-April 2024.
Reeling: The Chicago LGBTQ+ International Film Festival
As the only queer film festival in the Midwest and the second longest-running festival in the US, Reeling has been recognizing the artistic contributions of the queer film community since 1981. The organization furthers this mission by sponsoring a monthly queer writers club where up-and-coming writers can hone in their craft. Catch films in cinemas across Chicago from September 21 – October 1, 2023.
Reel Affirmations Film Festival – Washington DC
At the DC Center for the LGBT Community’s yearly film festival screening, you can expect anything from film shorts to documentaries to gay rom-coms. The festival celebrates its 31st year from October 19 – 22, 2023.
In addition to the internationally acclaimed South by Southwest Film Festival, Texas’ most trendy town hosts an LGBTQ+ film festival each year called PRISM. The Austin Gay & Lesbian International Film Festival began in 1987 to help educate queer people about HIV and AIDS issues happening in the community. It has since morphed into the annual PRISM festival that aims to highlight queer experiences. This year’s festival will screen June 25 – 27, 2023.