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Asheville Chapter Holds “Tom of Finland” Movie Benefit 

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When the folks at the Asheville Prime Timers chapter heard that an award-winning, documentary movie focusing on the life and art of Tom of Finland was going to be nationally released in 2018, we immediately put it on our list of group movie events "not to be missed." After all, Tom is an icon in GLBT history, familiar to ALL our members, and his hyper-masculine art is featured in leather bars across the country (and the world!). We waited, and waited, and waited for screening dates in our local theatres for the movie, but to no avail. We even notified our local arthouse cinemas that this could be a film of interest to the large gay population in our region, but were unable to convince the venues to schedule the film. But we were determined!

So, we contacted one of our favorite cinemas (we've worked with them before), arranged a special, one-time-only exclusive screening of "Tom of Finland (the movie)," and opened the event to the whole community as a benefit with proceeds going to a local charity. Using Woody Baldwin funds as seed money, we secured the theatre, purchased some genuine Tom of Finland memorabilia for a raffle that evening, and started promoting the event. We convinced a local gay bar to host a "Tom of Finland After Party" following the movie. We pulled out all the stops in our advertising for the movie and party (social media, the many LGBT interest groups in the area, even Growlr!), and timed the event to coincide with our immensely popular local Pride celebration.

We sold out the house(!) and were able to forward the significant net proceeds to the Blue Ridge Pride Center in Asheville. The movie was lots of fun, the crowd had a great time, our chapter got a lot of great PR, and we were able to support the community! "WIN-WIN-WIN" all around!

This is not the first time the Asheville chapter has used its resources to benefit the greater Asheville community. We've also donated to the Asheville Gay Men's Chorus, Youth OUTright (benefitting gay youth), Loving Foods Resources (meals for the homebound), the Beer City Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, and the fledgling Knoxville Prime Timers chapter (our new neighbors).

We are happy to share our experience with other chapters, so if a fund-raiser of this sort (for yourselves or for your local community) is something that you might consider, don't hesitate to contact us.

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