March 5, 2010 at 9:14 am EST | by Joey DiGuglielmo
One in Ten celebrates 20

One in Ten, a Washington-based organization whose main function is staging the annual Reel Affirmations LGBT film festival is, in its 20th year, an organization in transition.

Margaret Murray, a local lesbian who’d been One in Ten’s executive director for four years, left in October to join the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. The board opted not to immediately fill her position.

“There’s been a question of, ‘Do we really need a full-time executive director,'” says Lisa King, a Washington lesbian and president of the One in Ten board. “Because of the nature of One in Ten and our structure right now, there are a lot of times during the year when it would be great to have someone full time but isn’t entirely necessary … we’re still looking at the possibility.”

The festival, which happens in D.C. and Silver Spring, Md., each October, will continue as always, but some other events have come and gone. The board is working hard, King says, to resurrect some of the more popular events from years past. Divas Outdoors, a popular series that finds old movies being shown at Hillwood Museum & Gardens, is set for June 19 and 25, though the films that will be shown haven’t been announced. A kick-off party for the 20th anniversary year is planned for April, though the date is yet to be determined. And the board is hopeful that an event that had been on hiatus — “walk the red carpet” — will happen in May.

The board is seeking input from the local LGBT community about what it wants from One in Ten and where the organization should go. Everyone is welcome March 18 at 7 p.m. at the Human Rights Campaign building (1640 Rhode Island Ave., N.W.) for a “town hall”-type strategy session.

The organization, which previously employed one full-time and two part-time workers until about three years ago, is having most of its office work performed by contractors. Tough financial times are partially to blame, King says, but she also says the non-profit is in a good place and will rebound as the economy recovers.

Some have asked if gay film festivals are still essential with gay-themed films increasingly accepted in mainstream theaters. King says the festivals remain important.

“There’s nothing that can replace the audience that you would experience at a gay film festival,” she says. “It’s nice to see that you can go somewhere and experience your community within your community. You can’t get that going to see ‘Brokeback Mountain’ at AMC.”

Joey DiGuglielmo is the Features Editor for the Washington Blade.

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