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Real-life stories featured at the Vancouver Queer Film Festival

Madonna was an important early ally who helped bring gay culture into the mainstream with the 1991 documentary Madonna: Truth or Dare.

The people behind Nunavut's gay pride celebration. A Vancouver legal legend who has fought for LGBTQ rights for decades. Madonna's backup dancers. These are among the real-life characters featured in films at this year's Vancouver Queer Film Festival, which runs Aug. 11 to 21.

Two Soft Things, Two Hard Things, directed by Mark Kenneth Woods and Michael Yerxa, traces efforts to launch pride celebrations in Iqualuit amid homophobia brought to the north by colonization.

In Particular, barbara findlay, directed by Becca Plucer, is an eye-opening look at the queer feminist lawyer and activist – her fight for gay rights and her own coming of age. "It was so invisible, it was so underground, it was so forbidden, it was so unknown," she says of her first relationship – "and it was so wonderful."

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Twenty-five years after Madonna's Blond Ambition tour, Strike a Pose catches up with her backup dancers, most of whom were gay (the one straight guy started out as a homophobe). Ester Gould and Reijer Zwaan's documentary is a window into gay culture at the time, and a reminder that the pop star was an important early ally who helped bring it into the mainstream with the documentary Madonna: Truth or Dare. As one dancer points out, "the sort of daring progressive message in this movie was that you can be gay and human, because up to this point being gay was to be the other and subversive and perverse."

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