Queer Lounge, the unique gay and lesbian film networking event in Park City, Utah, returns for its sixth consecutive year at the Sundance and Slamdance film festivals. Organizers says this year's event will be more gay activism than merrymaking.

That's because program sponsor the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) is treading lightly on the idea of having a boisterous party in the Mormon stronghold of Utah.

Bloggers threatened to boycott Utah during the heady days of protest that followed passage of California's gay marriage ban on November 4. Their major grievance was the unprecedented financial donations from members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Mormons) that quite possibly tipped approval of the anti-gay amendment. Californians Against Hate, a group that publicized the Mormon involvement in the measure, has filed a complaint that claims the Mormon church violated California's Political Reform Act when it failed to report massive non-monetary contributions to the Yes-on-8 campaign.

But while it appears the boycott has failed to grow legs, Queer Lounge organizers are deferring to its message.

This year's event, which begins January 15, includes expanded panels on the role films play in addressing LGBT issues, including a panel on the cultural aftermath of California's gay marriage ban.

“Some LGBT advocates have called for withdrawing involvement from these film festivals in the wake of Proposition 8,” said GLAAD President Neil G. Giuliano, “but we believe we must be there, be visible, and ensure the LGBT community has a place to come together. To not do so would render the LGBT community invisible at this critical entertainment industry gathering, and nothing would make our adversaries happier.”

On Sunday, January 18, Oscar-winning director Rob Epstein (The Times of Harvey Milk, Celluloid Closet) will headline a panel titled LGBT Civil Rights, Film Activism & Proposition 8. Panelists will discuss the influence of film on the gay marriage debate.

“Our presence in Park City plays an important role in raising visibility for films by LGBT filmmakers and featuring LGBT content,” said Ellen Huang, the founder and program director of Queer Lounge, in a statement. “These works have the potential to spark dialogue and highlight issues important to the LGBT community. The stories have a ripple effect far beyond the borders of Park City and give film audiences a window into the common ground we all share.”

On the Net: Queer Lounge website is at www.queerlounge.org