Tuesday, October 20, 2009

It's Just Knot Right

Last week I was granted the opportunity to shadow the Chairperson of Volunteers for the Tampa International Gay and Lesbian Film Festival. I was able to observe the management of the volunteers during the event, as well as help set up before film screenings and clean up after. The TIGLFF is in their 20th year, and has streamlined the process for managing their film festival. I observed a well-oiled machine. The screening events appeared to seamlessly run themselves; an obvious result of effective pre-planning on the part of the directors. I am extremely appreciative of TIGLFF for allowing me the opportunity to learn from them.

One day during the festival, I helped set up and weigh down tents, and moved chairs, tables and rope posts from the lobby to the sidewalk. I was the only female among the volunteers at the time. The group that helped out that particular afternoon was a gay men's softball team. We all worked together to make sure the front of the theatre was ready for the day’s festivities.

When setting up the event tents, weights were needed to ensure that the wind would not carry them through the streets of downtown Tampa. The lead volunteer instructed all of us to tie the weights to the tents with a quick-release knot. I knew exactly what he meant, as I frequently camp with my family. The looks on the rest of the volunteers’ faces quickly revealed that they had no idea what he was talking about. He recognized their confusion, and demonstrated how to make the knot.

We proceeded to thread the ropes of the weights through the frames of the tents. I tied on the weights with which I was working, and peripherally observed the confusion around me as the rest of the volunteers struggled with tying the knots for their own weights. Making my way to each distressed man, I offered my assistance and tied the remainder of the knots. I received much gratitude from them for helping.

When all of the outside equipment was completely set up, we all took a break inside the air-conditioned lobby of the Tampa Theatre. As I sat and enjoyed my bottled water and the cool air, it occurred to me that an obvious detail eluded me when I was assisting the other volunteers with their knots…These men could not tie a knot, because none of them were ever allowed in the Boy Scouts!

Andrea Steele
Executive Director
Freethought Film Festival Foundation

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