The next TIGLFF could be the last

TIGLFF Tampa’s opening night in Oct. 2023. (Photo courtesy TIGLFF)

ST. PETERSBURG | After the Tampa Bay International Gay and Lesbian Film Festival holds the second part of its 34th outing Jan. 25-28 at Green Light Cinema, its president says the state’s longest-running celebration of LGBTQ+ cinema could come to a close.

TIGLFF President Rob Akins, whose previously extended term will end this month, has been involved with the organization for nearly two decades. He says new stewards are needed for the festival to continue.

There are currently seven members on the nonprofit’s board, some of whom predate Akins’ involvement and may also vacate their positions. TIGLFF is also supported by one staff member, longtime Festival Director Renee Cossette, and the organization’s contracted Program Director KJ Mohr.

Mohr programmed TIGLFF for nine years until a 2020 departure but returned for TIGLFF Tampa Oct. 5-8. Instead of its traditional nine-day festival, TIGLFF was split between two weekends across Tampa Bay, which organizers hoped would increase attendance and alleviate other concerns.

Akins calls the decision a success, not unlike other ventures introduced in recent years. Organizers have also launched smaller festivals to elevate trans and LGBTQ+ BIPOC voices while monthly screenings in St. Petersburg have also flourished.

“Unless you’ve spoken directly with myself or a board member, I think you would say that things are going well,” Akins says. “But this is a lot of work, it takes a lot to put on a film festival, and a lot of us have been doing this for a long time.

“Frankly, we’re just ready to move on to the next stages of our lives and need people to get involved,” he continues. “To bring new ideas to continue the good things we have going on, like the Trans Film Fest and the monthlies. We need people to take up the cause.”

According to TIGLFF’s website, board members must commit to a two-year term, attend monthly board meetings and at least one other event per month. Festival attendance is mandatory, along with a desire to make a difference in the community while promoting TIGLFF’s mission to showcase films by, for and about the LGBTQ+ community.

Additional opportunities to support TIGLFF are also available. Year-round volunteers are needed to assist with social media, event planning, graphic design, networking and more, and there are three different screening committees film lovers can join.

Donations are also welcome, though Akins notes TIGLFF’s potential end isn’t related to finances.

“We do need donations but we aren’t bankrupt,” he says. “It’s the people that are needed. If you have people with energy, time, passion and skillsets, the rest will come. I believe in this organization and I think it’s something culturally that we do need … but we need to continue with a new generation.”

TIGLFF St. Pete is scheduled for Jan. 25-28. For more information about joining the organization’s board and other ways to donate your time, email and visit

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