GLSEN (pronounced “glisten”) was founded in 1990 by a small, but dedicated group of teachers in Massachusetts who came together to improve an education system that they believed too frequently allowed its lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning students to be bullied or discriminated against, or to fall through the cracks.
Over 25 years later, that small group has grown into the leading national education organization focused on ensuring safe and affirming schools for LGBTQ students. Every day GLSEN works to ensure that LGBTQ students are able to learn and grow in a school environment free from bullying and harassment.
When we reached out to GLSEN to participate in our “community recommendations” project, they were excited for the opportunity to teach viewers more about TV shows and movies that represent their constituents and people with marginalized identities.
“I think what we are trying to do with this list of films and shows is expand the definition of LGBTQ, what that really means and who those people really are,” said Rebecca Mui, education manager at GLSEN.
“We were actually able to loop in our National Student Council, which consists of 18 amazing young activists across the country, and they helped us develop this list,” she said. “They really brought their own perspectives to center the list. The young people really wanted to show story lines that highlight people like them—a lot of LGBTQ people of varying identities and queer people of color.”
Can’t wait to check out GLSEN’s Community Recommendations collection? You can watch some of the below titles using XFINITY Stream or view the full collection in-home on your X1. Click here to read more about our other XFINITY LGBTQ Community Recommendations.
Editor’s Note: As an organization, GLSEN serves K-12 young people and while this list highlights that, it is not necessarily for everyone in their target audience. GLSEN recommends an adult screen the films listed below prior to watching them with young people.
Rebecca Mui: “This story is great, and it highlights a young African-American lesbian—really telling her story and highlighting that perspective.”
RM: “This film, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival (shout out to them!), shows trans-fem sex workers—really humanizing and giving life to that story.”
“The Way He Looks” (Available with Netflix on X1)
RM: “This is a Brazilian coming-of-age film—I think that is something that is really special about it. Also, it has that [additional layer] of looking at the unique experience of blind people.”
RM: “Obviously, no list would be complete, especially if you are looking at LGBTQ of people of color, without “Moonlight.” Also, having a coming-of-age story centering on a gay black man is really important.”
RM: “This is kind of like a cult classic, I would say. Showing the New York drag [ballroom] scene in the 1980s, it really just centers on black and brown queens and all of their joy in life.”
RM: “I was so glad when this one made the list. Really, this is my generation. A white, fem high school cheerleader and the idea of that she goes to redirection camp to try to be redirected, but ultimately finds her people in that community there.”
RM: “This film focuses on Yolanda and Mari, telling a story about two Chicana high-schoolers from L.A. They’re put together as study partners and it’s about that young love that starts. I think [our National Student Council] really wanted to highlight that Chicana LGBTQ experience.”
RM: “There can’t be enough LGBTQ Asian representation, in my opinion. This story is really important and beautifully told. It looks at a lesbian Chinese-American surgeon and her love story. But it is also about family—because it centers around her mother showing up.”
“One Day at a Time” (Available with Netflix on X1)
RM: “This one is a re-imagination of an older sitcom. The new Netflix version of “One Day at a Time” follows three generations of a Cuban-American family who are living in the same house. It’s amazing for a number of reasons: They talk about immigration and identity, but also one of the daughters, Elena, comes out in the show and highlights her story as a Cuban-American lesbian.”
“Matt Shepard Is a Friend of Mine” (Available with Netflix on X1)
RM: “The Matthew Shepard story is one of the more known LGBTQ stories. So, this film is really important to a lot of people because it really tells his story as a person, and not just a martyrized hate crime. It looks at people who knew him and does a great job of remembering him.”
“Sense8” (Available with Netflix on X1)
RM: “This is a sci-fi series that’s looking at a group of people around the world who are suddenly linked by this extra sense. It’s great because they were very thoughtful about each individual coming from a different culture and part of the world and perspective. The series itself really highlights trans people and POC experience.”
Tell us your favorites in the comments below, or take to social media with #XFINITYLGBTQ.
Also, be sure to join GLSEN for student-powered program Ally Week from September 25-29, where LGBTQ K-12 students and LGBTQ educators lead the conversation on what they need from their allies in school. Students and educators can register here. To learn more, head over to GLSEN’s website or follow them on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.
On X1: Navigate to “Popular Destinations” > LGBTQ Film & TV
On Native: Go to “On Demand” > LGBTQ Film & TV