Real, reel gay

Is it possible to be separate and equal? It certainly didn't work out that way for African-Americans, and when applying the questions to lesbians and gays -- who have created their own neighborhoods, restaurants, and film festivals -- you inevitably encounter ambivalence. Folks want to be comfortable everywhere, but they also want to be in a place where everyone feels like they do.

"I really look forward to the day when it's a nonissue," says David Sullivan, co-founder with Tim McMullen of Out Takes, a new Dallas gay and lesbian film festival. "I like to think there'll be a time where every space belongs to everybody, but as far as film goes, I obviously would never want the idea of a gay and lesbian film festival to be obsolete. Movies have so much power to tell specific stories. I'd hate to see that diluted."

Sullivan and McMullen moved to Dallas two and a half years ago from Washington, D.C., where they served on the review committee of that city's lesbian and gay flick fest. When they arrived here and saw that efforts to organize an annual film festival were scattered, they hatched the idea of Out Takes. Along with 50 volunteers and about half a dozen corporate sponsors, the pair brings 13 programs over four days to the Lakewood Theatre. Highlights include:

Queer as Folk: Perhaps the hot ticket will be two editions of this English TV dramedy, an eight-episode series produced by Britain's Channel 4. Writer-creator Russell T. Davies has packed nudity, sex, romance, and risk into his look at the lives of three very different gay men living in Manchester and hitting the city's Canal Street scene so hard every night, they wake up with bruises. Shallow, handsome, promiscuous public relations exec Stuart and his best friend since adolescence, a nervous, semi-closeted grocery manager named Vince, find their lives invaded by 15-year-old Nathan, a guy who's busting out of the closet faster than anyone -- parents, teachers, schoolmates -- is comfortable with. Unless you have a U.K. friend with a VCR, this is probably the only chance you'll get to catch the salacious Queer as Folk.

We're Funny That Way: Lea DeLaria, Bob Smith, Kate Clinton, and Christopher Peterson are "funny" in every sense of the word in David Adkins' quip-umentary documenting Canada's First International Festival of Gay and Lesbian Humor. Onstage performances and backstage reminiscences seek to discover why a well-honed sense of humor has always been the best gay and lesbian defense in a homophobic world, not to mention an entertainment industry that talks diversity out of one face and nervously forbids depictions of homosexuality with the other. Luckily, it's no longer the only defense in an era of numerous courtroom and legislative victories, so fall-over-funny comedians such as Clinton and Smith can be appreciated for the sake of their talents, not their intentions. We're Funny That Way is worth it for Smith's plan to sneak homosexuality into the public schools via arithmetic alone.

The Killing of Sister George: Just how homophobic this 1968 Robert Aldrich satire is can be debated. On the one hand, there are sadomasochistic overtones to the relationship between Beryl Reid, a soap opera actress who plays a beloved Mary Worth type, and her young partner (Susannah York). On the other, there are tasty diatribes against the hypocritical relationship between entertainment producers and viewers where lesbian performers are concerned. Reid gives a terrific performance as the title role's BBC icon of virtue by day, hard-drinking butch volcano by night. When her checkered flannel petticoat begins to show in public, a plan is hatched to deal with "the problem." The Killing of Sister George is unavailable on video, and it's making a return engagement to the Lakewood 31 years after its Dallas debut there. Don't miss it -- you'll never hear a cow say "Moo!" the same way again.

Jimmy Fowler

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Jimmy Fowler

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