How We Got Here

Bringing the best of LGBTQ+ cinema to Pittsburgh for 35 years

Reel Q began in 1982 as the a Pittsburgh Lesbian & Gay Film Series, a project of the Pittsburgh’s GLCC (Now the Pittsburgh Equality Center) and Pittsburgh Filmmakers. The series began as a space to showcase independent LGBTQ cinema that wasn’t readily available to mainstream audiences.

Our founder Rich Cummings launched the festival in current form in 1985 and we hosted the first Pittsburgh Lesbian and Gay Film Festival. By 1986 the festival incorporated, was granted non-profit status, and had formed Board of Directors.

Rich Cummings expressed Vito Russo’s book The Celluloid Closet was part of the impetus for the festival, he’s quoted as saying “It’s the major motivation for showing gay and lesbian films in Pittsburgh. In [the book] Vito exposes how gays have been portrayed on film in the last 70 years. Hollywood’s portrayal of us has stereotyped us and oppressed us, and it’s taken us years to work against those images… These gay films are about issues and problems that we face every day which mainstream films do not address. That’s why an LGBT film festival is worthwhile.” The Celluloid Closet was turned into a landmark documentary in 1995 that still holds incredible relevance today.

In 2012 the festival re-branded to Reel Q, the name was decided by an audience vote with the idea that the festival should become more inclusive of Pittsburgh’s LGBTQ diverse community. By 2015 Reel Q hired our first Executive Director, Kevin Lovelace, who founded PUFF (Pittsburgh Underground Queer Film Festival) and broaden our year-round programming to heights it had never reached.

In 2012 the festival re-branded to Reel Q, the name was decided by an audience vote with the idea that the festival should become more inclusive of Pittsburgh’s LGBTQ diverse community. By 2015 Reel Q hired our first Executive Director, Kevin Lovelace, who founded PUFF (Pittsburgh Underground Queer Film Festival) and broaden our year-round programming to heights it had never reached.

Reel Q provides a crucial service to the cultural vitality of Pittsburgh, designed to support LGBTQ+ artists, and to provide a much-needed cultural outlet for the LGBTQ+ community of Pittsburgh.

Our annual Reel Q film festival in October is the sixth oldest LGBTQ+ film festival in the world and the longest running film festival in Pittsburgh. Reel Q spans ten days with a variety of programs, panels, parties, and community activities. We screen approximately twenty feature films and over forty short films.

We also organize quality year-round events including our Reel Stories and Reel Youth series. We facilitate meet and greets, panel discussions, parties, community artist markets, and partnered community events every month. We always strive to broaden our contacts with filmmakers, producers, directors, distributors and similar festivals outside of the local surrounding area to create an international connection for the Pittsburgh LGBTQ+ community.

There is plenty of time to get involved with Reel Q! You can add your name to our volunteer list to find out how you can be part of one of the most unique cultural organizations in Pittsburgh.