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    Volunteering for Frameline By Howard M. Steiermann

    volunteer1As soon as I notice the rainbow flags along Market Street in June, a smile forms at the corner of my mouth and stretches up to my eyes. But Pride season really starts for me in May, when I attend Frameline film festival’s volunteer orientation. In most other organizations, a mandatory meeting elicits groans and eye rolling, but Frameline makes it fun. I even find out what color volunteer t-shirt I am adding to my wardrobe. As part of the high-energy meeting, they show the festival’s trailer. This year I believe it’s one of the best—just you wait!

    I attended the film festival for years before I started to volunteer. We’ve all seen the legion of volunteers helping to manage the lines and usher. My entrée was simply a chat with a friend, Nathan Robinson, who had long-term experience as a Frameline volunteer. Approximately ten years ago, Nathan introduced me to a houseguest whom he was hosting through Frameline’s volunteer homestay program. Ever since then, I have hosted staff from the Hamburg, Germany, LGBT film festival.

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    Last year I began volunteering as a driver for Frameline. I pick up filmmakers or actors and take them to/from SFO. As both a homestay host and as a driver, I love the one-on-one interaction I have with visitors. I get to share stories with them about my favorite parts of the Bay Area, and I learn from them regarding an industry I know little about.

    Another fun benefit (so I hear!) is the opportunity to flirt. Not only are the throngs of attendees available for the pickin’, but there are hundreds of other volunteers to meet and chat up.

    Perhaps the biggest benefit of volunteering with Frameline is being in the midst of one of Pride season’s biggest events. The Frameline film festival lasts over ten days and is spread over five venues. It attracts thousands of people to its screenings. As a volunteer and as an attendee, there are people I rarely see the rest of the year, but I can count on seeing them in line or in the theater.

    Volunteering also helps me to connect with the broader LGBT community in a myriad of ways. As a volunteer, I receive daily e-mail updates allowing me to engage with others about films I might not have seen. The festival creates wonderful buzz. Through being an active part of the festival, I feel closer to the excitement as well as to our proud community. A long-time Frameline volunteer, Sarah, mentioned how much she enjoys seeing other volunteers’ smiles in acknow-ledgment when she is wearing her volunteer t-shirt around town. Like many of us, Sarah enjoys the sense of camaraderie that is part of the festival.

    Nathan loves being a part of such a well-run organization, particularly one that does such a great job with volunteer appreciation. Being a volunteer has allowed him to view a more diverse set of films than he would have otherwise. As a volun-teer theatre host, Nathan has met a wide variety of filmmakers, broad-ening his exposure to the LGBT community.

    The volunteer coordinator, the fantabulous Albers, would love to add you as a new volunteer. (See the info at this page: http://ticketing.frameline.org/participate/index.aspx ) It’s mega fun. You’ll get a glimpse behind the scenes, and you’ll add another t-shirt to your collection. Happy movie watching and happy Pride!

    “San Francisco Bay Times” columnist Howard M. Steiermann is an Ordained Ritual Facilitator. For more information, please visit www.SFHoward.com