AUSTIN, TEXAS – Last month I got a Facebook invite to attend an event called Free and Queer at The North Door Austin, on the East side of I-35. They were hosting a free screening of Madam X, an Indonesian film about a transgender hairdresser/superwoman fighting against bigotry and social discord. It was campy, it was cheesy, and it was utterly hilarious. The film was preceded by two individual performances from local artist Fantasy and transgender wrestler Zane Coxx, hosted by the sweet and fabulous MC Rebecca Havemeyer, and followed by a set from DJ Dren Pasht from Shame Collective. Check out the old event page here.

This also happened to be on a Tuesday, right before my favorite weekly event (TuezGayz) at Barbarella. It was like the perfect little combo for evening enjoyment. I laughed a lot, met great people, and got ready to spread my peanut butter on the dance floor afterwards at Barbs. “Who’s in charge of all this?” I immediately thought. Meet Beth Schindler, a sweet and queer hairdresser living in Austin, Texas. At some point of the presentation, Rebecca Havemeyer invited Beth on stage to talk a little bit about Free and Queer, which also happens to come once a month but in a pleasant way. Dirty Cult is really curious about everything, so we had a nice and short phone conversation with Beth a few days ago to get a little bit more information about these screenings.

“This city is wildly queer and becoming more so everyday” said Beth on our first email, and I could not agree more. This is the state of Texas we are talking about. You are not allowed to be openly gay without having to develop a tough skin or deep feelings of resentment. Once queer kids hit adulthood, they flee to Austin (unless they find the funds to go East, West, or all the way to Europe). In 2012, the Austin City Council endorsed same-sex marriages. Did you know that? Beth is so right! Austin is about to become one of the gayest cities in the Southwest. And you know what else? You can enjoy FREE screenings of LGBTQ-themed movies once a month right before you twerk like a pro at TuezGayz.

The screening of Madam X was hosted in collaboration with Polari, formerly known as the Austin Gay and Lesbian Film Festival. They were the ones that made the title available to us, being a foreign film that got zero US distribution and all. However, Beth runs this show mostly on her own. She loves films in general, but as a queer person she also loves queer movies and thinks the world (or at least the city of Austin) needs to see them. Because Polari isn’t necessarily actively providing free entertainment, Beth goes out to various video stores to get all the movies she wants to show. This month (on February 26th) she will be showing the infamous Welcome to the Dollhouse.

Every screening is a little different from the other. The entertainment before and after the film changes in order to accommodate and showcase more queer talent. This time people will be going on stage and sharing funcomfortable queer stories from their childhood. Beth is collaborating with LezRide, The Q, and AIDS Services of Austin for this free night of fun. Check out the Facebook event page HERE. Dirty Cult also invites you to join the festivities!

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