San Francisco Gay and Lesbian Film Festival (1991)

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Date: 1991

Region: North America

Subject: Sexual/Gender Orientation

Medium: Film Video


Artist: Frameline, San Francisco Gay and Lesbian Film Festival

Confronting Bodies: Rev. Donald Wildman's American Family Association

Dates of Action: April 1991

Location: San Francisco, California

Description of Artwork: Film and Videos confronting lesbian and gay issues.

The Incident: On April 17, 1991, Reverend Donald Wildmon wrote a letter to members of Congress attacking the NEA's support for the San Francisco Gay and Lesbian Film Festival. Wildmon called the decision to support the Festival "totally out of touch with the vast majority of American taxpayers." In 1991, the NEA awarded a $12,000 grant to Frameline, a national gay media arts organization that produces the annual festival. NEA Chairman John Frohnmayer responded to the attack in an April 25 letter, writing, "Mr. Wildmon's complaint, stripped of rhetoric, seems to be that he doesn't believe federal funds should go to homosexuals... The Endowment does not blacklist nor does it give or refuse grants on the basis of sexual orientation." He also made clear that in awarding this grant, the NEA did weigh a 1990 law requiring the Endowment to "take into consideration general standards of decency." Wildmon's attack on the festival was similar to one lodged in 1990 by Sen. Jesse Helms (R-NC), who requested that the General Accouting Office review Frameline's applications dating back to 1988. The GAO found that the awards complied with all applicable standards for receipt of federal funding.

Results of Incident: Broader attacks on NEA funding continue.

Source: People for the American Way