History of Gay and Lesbian Life in Wisconsin - People - Bios

Carl Bogner


approx. 1962
Primary Involvements:

Community Activist




Born in Milwaukee, Carl Bogner's father was a soil conservation engineer for the Department of Agriculture in Milwaukee. Before he was two, the family was moved to suburban Philadelphia and then to suburban Washington, D.C. Bogner went to high school and college in Virginia (at the University of Virginia, where he received a degree in writing). Bogner moved to Milwaukee around 1987 or 1988 and attended UWM, where he earned a BFA in film.

Bogner was involved in many aspects of LGBTQ life in Wisconsin, largely in the Milwaukee area. Most notably, Bogner was the Director of the Milwaukee LGBT Film Festival for most of that festival's lifetime (from about 1997 until its demise around 2017-2019). One of the earliest media articles describing Bogner's work on the festival (Wis. Light newspaper, Sept. 1998) reads:

    Beginning months in advance, Festival programmer Carl Bogner searches for the best, the brightest, the newest and most provocative Gay and Lesbian films. Besides attending the prestigious San Francisco Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, Carl spends "hundreds of hours" screening tapes of potential films. Says Bogner, "One of my frustrations is that I could have easily spend even hundreds of more hours watching films".

The festival was to become nearly an all-consuming pursuit for Bogner. Even as he held down a full-time job as film lecturer at UWM, he continued to spend countless hours every year resarching and screening LGBTQ films for the next Festival.

Bogner was interviewed for an article in 'Wisconsin Gazette' newspaper in 2013 (see to right), titled "The man behind the fest". Highlights from that article:

    As the out director of the Milwaukee LGBT Film/ Video Festival, Carl Bogner has his finger on the pulse of queer cinema. Thanks to his encyclopedic cinematic knowledge, his impeccable taste and his industry connections, Bogner brings the best to Milwaukee, making the city's festival one of the nation's very best of its kind. For this year's festival, as for the past 15, Bogner has fashioned a lineup featuring something for everyone-- from documentaries to short features to full-length comedies and dramas. In addition to directing the festival, Bogner is a senior lecturer at UWM's Peck School of the Arts.

Bogner further reflected on the Festival in an interview in 2015 (Wis. Gazette v6-23; see below). That article read in part:

    Bogner hasn't been involved with the festival for all three decades... but in his time, he says, LGBT filmmaking has come leaps and bounds, and that's reflected in this year's work. Early LGBT film festivals, he says, were often disproportionally filled with international films because U.S. filmmakers weren't turning their lenses on LGBT stories. They also focused most often on lesbian and gay stories, ignoring more nuanced tales of sexual identity or stories about trans individuals. Times have changed and, this year especially, films are expanding beyond their LGBT protagonists to tell stories about the families and communities surrounding them.

From April, 2019 until November, 2020, the "ThisIsMilwaukee" Project (by Kevin J. Miyazaki and Mary Louise Schumacher) interviewed more than 100 Milwaukeeans "who embody the notion of citizenship, something which holds particular resonance in the midst of a pandemic that we could not have foreseen and an international uprising to address the racial terror that exists in the U.S. We asked all of our subjects four questions—about Milwaukee's most pressing issues, their state of optimism, political leadership and democracy itself." They featured Carl Bogner as one of those people. Their mention of Carl reads as follows: (The photo of Bogner at top of this page is from that article. There is a 5-minute audio clip of Carl at that link).

    How does one explain Carl Bogner? He is so much more than the sum of his titles, as important as those may be. He is uniquely, if quietly, influential among artists, filmmakers and thoughtful humans of all kinds in Milwaukee. He "performs his thoughtfulness" in countless ways, much as one of the presidential candidates he was interested in does. Carl demonstrates thoughtfulness through writing, teaching, curating, organizing and conversation. He demonstrates it through wonderfully diaristic, filmic and bookish Instagram posts. Carl is a curator and film lecturer at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. He's also the longtime director of the LGBT Film/Video Festival in Milwaukee.

Unfortunately, Bogner was stricken with brain cancer in mid-2022. A 'GoFundMe' campaign was started for Bogner late in 2022, reading in part as follows:

    In June (2022), Carl was diagnosed with advanced brain cancer at the age of 60. Surgery left him incapacitated, without the use of his left hand. He has since undergone debilitating radiation and chemo; the latter will continue through most of 2023. For treatments, he needs to travel regularly from his home in Milwaukee to Madison. Soon, he will stop receiving his salary and be forced to go on disability in an amount that will barely cover rent and will not cover insurance. Universally adored, Carl has devoted his life to selflessly helping others in his roles as a teacher, mentor, and leader in Milwaukee's queer community for over thirty years...

Few articles about or photos of Carl Bogner have appeared in media-- he didn't draw attention to himself, it was all about the Film Festival he was running. Some of the articles naming Bogner over the years of the Festival are shown below.

1996 Film Festival: Bogner listed as "Staff, Theatre"
(Wis. Light vol. 9-20, Sept. 1996)
Article marking 10th anniversary of Film Festival
lists Bogner as info contact
(In Step vol. 14-17, Aug. 1997)
Article at 11th Film Festival
lists Bogner as Festival programmer
(Wis. Light vol. 11-19, Sept. 1998)

Festival Article
(In Step vol. 17-11, June 2000)
Festival Article
(In Step vol. 17-16, Aug. 2000)
Festival Article
(In Step vol. 18-01, Jan. 2001)

Festival Article
(In Step vol. 19-09, May 2002)
Festival Article
(In Step vol. 20-03, Feb. 2003)
Festival Article
(In Step vol. 20-18, Sept. 2003)

Festival Article
(In Step vol. 20-18, Sept. 2003)

Festival Article
(Wis. Gazette vol. 2-24, June 2011)

Festival Article
(Wis. Gazette vol. 3-24, Oct. 2012)

Festival Article
(Wis. Gazette vol. 5-18, July 2014)
Festival Article
(Wis. Gazette vol. 5-22, Sept. 2014)

Festival Article
(Wis. Gazette vol. 6-23, Oct. 2015)
Festival Article
(Wis. Gazette vol. 7-23, Oct. 2016)

Article "The Man behind the fest"
(Wis. Gazette vol. 4-24, Oct. 2013)

Carl Bogner in late 2022
(from GoFundMe page after diagnosis)

Credits: Web site concept, design and arrangement by Don Schwamb.
Last updated: January-2023.

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