The story of QFest begins in 1996, when a group of maverick arts organizations collaborated and created The First Annual Houston Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, better known as The HGLFF. Inaugurated by Loris Bradley of DiverseWorks, Liz Empleton of Rice Cinema, Sarah Gish of Landmark Theatres, and Marian Luntz of The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, The HGLFF would soon grow to include Steve Buck of The Angelika Film Center and Andrea Grover of The Aurora Picture Show. In its early years as a multi-venue annual event, The Southwest Alternate Media Project (SWAMP) served as the festival’s non-profit fiscal sponsor. The first co-presidents of the HGLFF were Gudrun Klein and Andrew Edmonson, followed by Margaret Zigman and Ernie Manouse. In 2005, Margaret Zigman became the festival’s President.
In 2006, the festival’s tenth anniversary, under then-Board President Sixto Wagan, Rob Arcos, formerly of Landmark Theatres, was named Festival Director and Kristian Salinas was named Program Director. Now charged with creating its own program, the festival condensed its previous two week run into a five-day weekend. In 2007, led by new Executive Director Kristian Salinas, The HGLFF’s 11th year launched with a new name – QFest.
Entering its 21st year, QFest is proud to have Aurora Picture Show as its new Fiscal Sponsor. Sharing philosophies and missions, Aurora Picture Show and QFest mutually benefit one another through their partnership, and as a result, positively impacts the cultural landscape of the Greater Houston Area.