Queer Histories Festival

Press Releases

Circa: Queer Histories Festival
Presented by One Institute

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Volunteer for Circa

One Institute is seeking volunteers for our inaugural Circa: Queer Histories Festival, debuting this October 2023. Reach out to with your interest.

Announcing Screenings, Performances, and Panel Conversations

Film Screenings 

BABY, YOU ARE MY RELIGION (2017): Dive into lesbian bar culture with “Baby, You Are My Religion” and uncover how bars provided refuge, self-expression, and activism for gay women from the 1940s to 1980s. Directed by Kimberly Esslinger. Post-screening discussion features Marie Cartier, author of the book that inspired the documentary, and others. 

CHARACHICHI: a multimedia project by and for queer Armenians founded by James Melikyan and Erik Adamian, will showcase a short documentary on queer SWANA sex workers and drag performers at LA’s beloved local queer bar, Akbar.

CRUISE LA PRESENTS: BLOODSISTERS (1995): Director Michelle Handelman’s provocative and pioneering documentary guide that shatters assumptions about gender and lesbian sexuality. Screening organized by CRUISE LA featuring Q&A panel with Tina Horn, Sheree Rose, and Rogelio Ruckus. Post-event reception to feature kink demos and tasters. 

JIMMY IN SAIGON (2022): A boundary-pushing biographical romance between an American from the Midwest and a Vietnamese man set against the backdrop of the Vietnam War. Directed by Peter McDowell. 

L.M.N.O.P.: LESBIAN MOVIE NIGHT ONGOING PROJECT: Exhibited as “shelf talkers” nestled within the video store collection at Whammy! Analog Media, ten contributors describe pivotal queer experiences of watching a film or TV show. Panelists include Anna Margarita Albelo, Yasmin Almanaseer, Luka Fisher, Martine McDonald, Irene (Your Muther), Naz Riahi, Irene Soriano, Fawzy Taylor, Valarie Walker, Veronika and Jane Wyman. 

PATPONG NARCISSUS (2023): Based on James Bidgood’s Pink Narcissus, Patpong Narcissus is an erotic visual poem that blends historical narrative and contemporary reality of Bangkok’s infamous red-light district. World premiere screening and Q&A with artist and creator Oat Montien. 

THE LAVENDER EFFECT® ORAL HISTORIES PROJECT: A 2-day event capturing video testimonies from integral participants or witnesses to the LGBTQ+ movement. Day 1 to feature screening and Day 2 to host an oral history interview workshop.  Organized by THE LAVENDER EFFECT ® with presenter Andy Sacher. 

WORKING (2022): A short film that features interview stories of trans individuals working as government employees at a time when legal protections have become contested ground. Screening to conclude with performance by artist and filmmaker Pau S. Pescador. 


40 YEARS OF CELEBRATION: In a retrospective that spans from 1982 to the present day, Celebration Theatre hosts an evening of performances from some of their most popular shows to date with some original cast members. Featuring Parnell Damone Marcano, Brittney S. Wheeler, Christopher Maikish, Nathan Frizzell, Tom DeTrinis, and Michael O’Hara. 

BUTCH VISIONS: A solo performance and facilitation that wrestles with generational queer wounds and guides us towards unraveling the emotional and relational strata of what being queer means so that we can be loved in real time. Performed by drag host and community organizer Provvidenza. 

GAY FREEDOM BAND OF LOS ANGELES 45TH ANNIVERSARY PREVIEW: Hour-long performance of GFBLA’s upcoming 45th anniversary celebration showcasing the organization’s rich history and passion for music. Musicians will share their stories between pieces. Organized by Gay Freedom Band of Los Angeles featuring Artistic Director Joseph Vranas. 

IT MUST BE HIM: A GENDERFUL MUSICAL MEMOIR: Solo show exploring the role of gender from the consciousness of a community elder, featuring the lyrics and performances of female songs and singers. Written and performed by Michael Kearns. 

QUEERPOCALYPSE: Concert performance featuring queer and trans musicians of color, including Keelah Tay, Ygslrhstfut, Byron Joae, and Mayalopolis. Organized by QueerPocalypse.  

Panel Conversations 

AIDSTORIES: A panel discussion on the AIDS crisis and memory. Panelists include Mark Katz, MD, Ray Eelsing, Rabbi Lisa Edwards, and Rabbi Jillian Cameron. Organized by Beth Chayim Chadashim. 

GJLA: A LEGACY OF TRANS LIBERATION: Celebrate twenty years of Gender Justice LA with a gallery walk and conversation on archival materials from GJLA and a panel featuring trans, gender non-conforming, and intersex organizers and artists, as well as past and present GJLA board and staff. Organized by Gender Justice LA. 

IN CONVERSATION: CONTEXTUALIZING LGBTQIA+ TOPICS & ISSUES IN EDUCATION: Conversation on the past and present landscape of LGBTQIA+ topics in education featuring educators and researchers on the front lines of attacks against LGBTQIA+ topics in schools. Five panelists include Alex Rosado-Torres, Taylor Masamitsu, and others. 

MAKING THE INVISIBLE VISIBLE: NAVIGATING QUEER IDENTITY IN PUBLIC SPACE: An intergenerational conversation bringing together key figures in the ACLU SoCal’s century of impact to discuss the evolution of protest and advocacy for LGBTQ+ rights. Organized by the ACLU SoCal and featuring panelist the Reverend Troy Perry and others. 

PANDEMICS + BOOKS: PUBLISHING HIV/AIDS IN THE EARLY COVID ERA: Join more than 20 authors and editors of over 50 HIV/AIDS books released between 2020–2023 for a virtual discussion on their books, ongoing pandemics, and their experiences in publishing. Organized by Theodore (ted) Kerr and Alexandra Juhasz. 

THE INSTITUTE OF CULTURAL INQUIRY’S AIDS CHRONICLES (1994-2019): A CONVERSATION WITH ANTOINETTE LAFARGE AND DEBORAH CULLEN-MORALES: Join moderator Pietro Rigolo, curator at the Getty Research Institute (GRI), and members of the Institute of Cultural Inquiry (ICI) for an online conversation around projects related to memory and awareness during the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Organized by the Getty Research Institute. 

THE LIVING QUEER ARCHIVE: Gathering artists, curators, and creatives who have contributed to the Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions’ (LACE) living queer archive, panelists will share their connections to LACE and the archive and discuss the present and future of queer art in Los Angeles. Organized by LACE. 

THROUGH OUR LENS: LAURA AGUILAR’S LATINA LESBIAN SERIES: A conversation on esteemed queer Latine photographer Laura Aguilar’s that will discuss how her groundbreaking Latina Lesbian series provided a distinct perspective on the complexities of representation and identity within queer Latine art and cultural expression. Panelists include friends and subjects from the photographs Carla Barboza and Lydia R. Otero. Moderated by Christopher Anthony Velasco.  

UNAPOLOGETICALLY WHOLE: QUEER ELDERS OF COLOR SPEAK OUT: Join queer elders of color as they reflect on their life’s work at the forefront of LGBTQ+ and other social justice movements in Los Angeles. Organized by The OUTWORDS Archive. 

THE WILLIAMS INSTITUTE AND TRANS LATIN@ COALITION PRESENT UNITY: An event raising awareness of UniTy’s LGBTQ Call-back+ Study, a groundbreaking survey coming Fall 2023 of transgender and nonbinary people is Los Angeles County. The event will feature a cocktail hour, awards presentation honoring community activists and celebrities, and dance party. Organized by the Williams Institute and TransLatin@ Coalition. 


Celebrating seven decades of service to the LGBTQ+ community, One Institute presents Circa, the first and only LGBTQ+ histories festival in the United States. Kicking off at the start of LGBTQ+ History Month, October 2023, the month-long programming series will showcase the trailblazing histories and vibrant cultural contributions of LGBTQ+ communities through the lens of present-day challenges and triumphs. Spanning the arts, humanities, politics, and culture, Circa will feature queer and trans thinkers and doers leading the movement for LGBTQ+ liberation.

What we mean by Queer Histories Programming 

One Institute (ONE) invites queer, trans, and allied community members, artists, activists, scholars, youth, educators, cultural institutions, and community organizations to submit innovative, thought-provoking program proposals. We welcome proposals from across the arts, cultural, and humanities disciplines in the form of: performances, screenings, readings, lectures, dialogues, debates, podcasts, workshops, exhibitions, pop-ups, parties, happenings, multidisciplinary programs, and more. We are currently prioritizing in-person programs but will also accept virtual programs accessible to broader audiences.

How we define Queer History

We define queer history broadly, as histories, herstories, and theirstories. Queer histories intersect everything in our lives. Consider submitting a festival program proposal on such themes as Activism, Solidarity, Liberation, Celebration, Inspiration, Lineage, Ancestry, Chosen Family, Sex Work, Humor, Introspection, Joy, Love, Resistance, Disability, Grief, Mourning, Death, Community, Outrage, Transgression, Intergeneration, Birth, Rebirth, Transition, Magic, Mysticism, Religion, Spirituality, Faith, Immigration, Amnesty, Labels, Pronouns, Language, Drag, Memory, and don’t forget… Sex! Other thematic ideas are also welcome.

Open Call for Proposals

Our 2023 open call is now closed. Thank you for your interest.


Circa Steering Committee Members

Erik Adamian, Board Chair, GALAS LGBTQ+ Armenian Society; Jerri Allyn, activist artist; Lynn Harris Ballen, activist, writer, and radio producer; Andy Campbell, critic, educator, and art historian; Holly M. Crawford, artist, Director of Adult Public Programs, LACMA; Samantha Eisenberg, queer activist; Rubén Esparza, multidisciplinary artist and curator; Tracy Fenix, curator and cultural producer; Chanelle Gallant, writer and feminist rights activist; Eric Kugler, writer and comedian; Ray Lopez-Chang, education equity organizer; Hugh McHarg, Associate Dean for Strategic Initiatives, USC Libraries; Amitis Motevalli, Artist/Director of William Grant Still Arts Center; Rasheed Newson, author, executive producer, and showrunner; Marval A Rex, transmasculine actor, curator, and cultural producer; C. Jerome Woods, poet, curator, and collector.

Images: Promotional image by One Institute. Photo by Priscilla Mars.

Join us on December 10 for  Together On the Air: LIVE on Radio pre-launch party.

Session Recordings