Taking pride and sharing PRIDE: Two SPEA alums organize film festival

Guest post courtesy of Jim Hanchett, director of the Office of Marketing and Communications in IU Bloomington’s School of Public and Environmental Affairs:

Abby Henkel and Sarah Perfetti, graduates of the Indiana University Bloomington School of Public and Environmental Affairs, are partners at the helm of the fast-growing Bloomington PRIDE Film Festival. The festival, Jan. 23 to 25, celebrates “the queer arts” and includes social events, awards, and, of course, movies. As they hustled to prepare for this year’s festival, we caught up with Henkel and Perfetti:

Q: What about the festival makes you most proud?

Henkel: We have an unbelievably committed group of volunteers. Everyone has dedicated so much time and expertise to PRIDE simply because we all believe in it. I’ve never worked with so many talented, generous people. I feel very lucky.

Perfetti: What makes me the most proud about the festival is seeing so many queer and allied people together in one space, even if it’s only for three days. In a city the size of Bloomington in the state of Indiana, where being queer isn’t very easy, bringing together so many unique people to celebrate themselves makes me so proud. I enjoy knowing that we can create a fabulous event that excites so many different people.

SPEA graduates Abby Henkel, left, and Sarah Perfetti are partners at the helm of the fast-growing Bloomington PRIDE Film Festival, which kicks off this weekend.

SPEA graduates Abby Henkel, left, and Sarah Perfetti. The Bloomington PRIDE Film Festival, which kicks off this weekend. Photo courtesy of Jim Hanchett.

Q: What in your years as a student at IU and at SPEA prepared you for this position?

Henkel: SPEA prepared me in so many ways! From the busy schedule that made me forget what boredom is, to the rigorous classes that constantly challenged the way I think about how nonprofits fit into societies, I couldn’t have done this without my classes and projects at SPEA. Every day I use the facts and tools I learned in classes to make decisions on everything from donor relations to communications to volunteer management. In particular, the hands-on experiences with my internship (for the Department of Economic and Sustainable Development at the City of Bloomington), graduate assistantship (Buskirk-Chumley Theater), and practicums (my first one was with PRIDE!) taught me how to balance a million different concerns at once.

Perfetti: Without SPEA, I would not have had the courage to take on co-directing Bloomington PRIDE. My education at SPEA — particularly fund development with Dr. Grønbjerg, nonprofit management with Dr. Gazley and social entrepreneurship with Dr. Lenkowsky — provided me with the essential tools necessary for leading an organization. Abby and I have gone back to our text books and class materials many times to help build our board, write our mission, and develop fundraising goals such as gift range charts and sponsor benefits. I focus more on PRIDE’s resource development and Abby concentrates on marketing and communications.

Q: What should LGBT people know about Bloomington that perhaps they don’t know?

Henkel: Tolerance and equality might not be the first words that come to mind when outsiders think of Indiana, but those are two of Bloomington’s greatest strengths. I have never felt marginalized or discriminated against in this town, and the overwhelming support we’ve received for PRIDE is a great example of how LGBT folks are embraced here. These positive traits are spreading throughout Indiana, but Bloomington is definitely an epicenter of LGBT inclusiveness.

Perfetti: In 2010, Bloomington was named the 4th gayest city in America by The Advocate, but if you’ve ever visited Bloomington, it won’t take you long to figure out that it’s a progressive small city filled with LGBTQA people. Our city is home to the world-renowned Kinsey Institute, and IU has a GLBT Alumni Association that administers an LGBT scholarship fund. There’s also a GLBT Student Support Services building located on campus. Additionally, there are many small queer-owned businesses and one of our local public radio stations broadcasts a queer radio show called, bloomingOUT. Both Visit Bloomington and the City of Bloomington support LGBTQ people. Last year and again this year, Mayor Mark Kruzan and several Bloomington City Council members will participate in our Celebration of Love wedding ceremony. Bloomington is the queer capital of Indiana.

Q: What’s your all-time favorite movie scene and why?

Henkel: I know I should pick something a little less corny, but I am always so moved by the scene at the end of the new “Pride and Prejudice” when Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy find each other in the field in the early morning. I can’t help it. I’m such a romantic.

Perfetti: It’s tough for me to select only one movie scene and even though ‘Labyrinth’ isn’t my favorite movie, since childhood I’ve always loved the ominous scene where a few goblins are waiting for Sarah to say “the words” and call David Bowie’s character, Jareth the Goblin King, to come take her baby brother away. As a kid, I watched that movie nearly every day throughout elementary school and even though I knew Sarah would eventually call the Goblin King, I sat there holding my breath anticipating the moment where a creepy man in extremely tight pants would later enter the baby’s bedroom juggling a crystal ball to strike a deal with Sarah to get her baby brother back. Aside from the campy acting, it’s such an adventurous magical tale of a frustrated older sister trying to mend a problem that she created. My name is Sarah, and in my elementary mind I thought that because I have the same name as the actor and we both have brown hair and share a love for adventure, I would probably grow up to be her. I am also an older sister who started a lot of fights and had to figure out ways to solve them. I really thought that I would grow up and look like Jennifer Connelly’s character. Growing up I didn’t really like to watch cartoons like most of my peers but preferred to watch shows like “Murder, She Wrote” and “Columbo” and films like “It,” “The Stand” and “The Last Unicorn.”

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