October is dedicated to LGBT history, and students and faculty have organized a film festival throughout the month to celebrate how far gay rights have come and to make people aware of how far they still have to go.
Movies will be shown Tuesday and Wednesday nights at 7 p.m. in Hodges Auditorium all month except for the week of fall break.
Donna Braquet, the director of OUTreach: LGBT and Ally Resource Center, picked films that she believed would spotlight the recent issues in the media surrounding the civil movement.
"I think that this year we're going to get a lot of attendees just because LGBT issues are so much in the forefront of everyday news," Braquet said. "The films that I've selected are ones that reflect the recent changes in marriage equality, 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell,' and the movement as a whole.
"We have all these watershed moments that are happening, but there was a lot that led up to how things are now."
With all the political activism across the country to spread the message of equality, Braquet picked a film fest for its ability to appeal to a wide audience..
"I think that films are very accessible to everyone," Braquet said. "They're an hour long, you can drop in and learn a tremendous amount of information.
"It's a way to bring people together to watch a common film, then have a brief discussion afterwards. A film fest is a fun way to celebrate the history."
Dustin Shetley, a junior in public relations, said he believes the film fest is a step in the right direction toward awareness on campus.
"I think the film fest is extremely important because it allows people to see films that confront the topic of sexuality and various situations that deal with sexuality that they would not normally come into contact with," Shetley said. "Basically, it offers another perspective on life and broadens the horizons of their mind."
The first movie, "Milk," will premiere tonight at 7 p.m. It stars Sean Penn as he depicts Harvey Milk, the first openly gay man elected to office in San Francisco in 1977. He was also one of the first to work toward gay rights.
While "Milk" is a feature film, many of the others throughout the month are documentaries focusing on many recent issues, such as marriage equality, "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," the AIDS crisis of the 80s and how LGBT characters have been portrayed in movies.
"Another short one is called 'When I Knew,' and it's ... a 30 minute film of when people first knew they were LGBT," Braquet said. "Right after that, we're going to have a student panel, and students are going to talk about that moment where they first knew that they were gay and what it's like to be out on UT's campus."
Shetley said he hopes the film fest will provide students with an opportunity to be more open to the LGBT community after viewing the films and talking with other students.
"I hope that it will spread a message of truth, tolerance and acceptance across the campus," Shetley said. "So many different aspects of sexuality are stigmatized with negative connotations, and it is a great thing to be able to see a different side of the situation than just the bad ones."
Braquet also said she hopes to emphasize the connection between the LGBT movement and other civil rights movements.
"I think that bringing light to LGBT history month, it's everyone's history," Braquet said. "It's not just gay people's history, this is American history.
"In order for us to really know how much progress has been made in this civil rights issue, we kind of have to look back to see how things were."