The National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) is a national legal organization committed to advancing the civil and human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people as well as their families through litigation, legislation, policy and public education. Founded in 1977, NCLR serves as a nonprofit, public-interest law firm that litigates precedent-setting cases at the trial and appellate court levels; advocates for equitable public policies affecting the LGBT community; provides free legal assistance to LGBTQ people and their legal advocates; and conducts community education on LGBTQ issues. The incredible work being done by this organization helps more than 5,000 LGBTQ people and their families throughout the United States each year, from parents and seniors to immigrants, athletes and youth.
We recently reached out to NCLR to see if they would be keen on sharing their favorite LGBTQ entertainment picks for our Community Recommendations collections and before we knew it, NCLR’s executive director Kate Kendell had put out a call to her entire team. As anticipated, the list she got back boasts a remarkable overtone of intersectionality, which seems to be baked into the DNA of the nonprofit.
"NCLR's founder Donna Hitchen's perspective was that all issues of oppression are interconnected. And in order to address any kind of oppression, discrimination or vulnerability that a community feels, you really need to see the whole person and understand how multiple identities intersect,"says Kate says. "I feel like the range of movies chosen have both a through-line and also unique narrative perspectives that if someone were to watch this entire list, they would have a pretty good sense of the LGBTQ experience and relationships across a whole range of identities."
When asked about the experience of pulling together this collection, Kate said, "Our staff absolutely loved doing this. It was really a fun experience for them. I do think there is enormous power in narrative and in storytelling. That was made clear to me just by this little experiment of having people list the LGBTQ-themed movies that were really influential to them. Even among the staff in San Francisco who are mostly queer individuals, but not all, you could just tell. It was a renewed way to see their liberation. These stories are super meaningful and having platforms where they can be viewed is critical."
Check out NCLR’s Community Recommendations below or at home within the XFINITY LGBTQ Film & TV Collection. Click here to read more about our other XFINITY LGBTQ “Community Recommendation” collections.
Kate’s thoughts: “What I love about ‘Saving Face’ is the title refers to the fact that in many East Asian cultures, maintaining a good reputation and avoiding public humiliation is the most important thing. Even if it means rejecting family members who you feel bring you shame or humiliate the family. It uses comedy and irony to depict tender moments between the main character and her mother, and also between her and her lover, Vivienne. The focus is really on the relationship between the women, but also understanding that many queer people have to navigate a relationship with a parent or their parents, and how their parents feel about the relationship. So, I feel like it’s just a beautiful way to demonstrate how a parent can both struggle and also come to accept and support a child that they love.”
Kate’s thoughts: “I feel like the list is pretty eclectic, and it does reflect a range of experiences that have universal themes, but also specific themes. Like ‘Pariah,’ which is about an African-American lesbian in New York, her experience is not going to be the same as the white cheerleader in Texas (à la ‘But I’m a Cheerleader‘). Those are going to be different experiences, in terms of how they experience the culture, how their family and friends react around them. But, there is something we’ve all experienced that sense of fear of being known for who we really are… and the discovery of that its’ still worth it, and recognizing that it is still worth it to be an authentic person.”
Kate’s thoughts: “I didn’t add anything to this list. This is my staff’s list. But once I saw it, I was so happy that I didn’t need to add anything else. ‘Jane the Virgin’ is something we watch as a family. Our son is away at college, but our daughter’s 15 and we watch it together. I love so much about the show. And even though it is not LGBTQ specific, it has multiple different kinds of relationships, and the discussion of sexual orientation is easy and open and taken as a given. And I just think it’s a fun family show. We have a lot of fun watching that.”
Kate’s thoughts: [When asked about the ‘L’ in NCLR] “We maintain the name to elevate lesbian visibility, but we are also an LGBTQ organization. I deeply believe that if someone who doesn’t know what to think about LGBTQ issues sees ‘Brokeback Mountain,’ for example, and is touched and moved by the fact that these men could not live openly, and that diminishes them and their ability to love, that’s going to help lesbians. That’s going to help bisexuals. That’s going to maybe even help an understanding of transgender people. So, we really do have this view, that by any portal, if someone comes to have a greater understanding of any part of our community, that is going to help other segments of our community.”
Kate’s thoughts: “I love ‘Paris Is Burning.’ I think it’s such a fabulous exploration of gender nonconformity and gender fluidity. It’s a very human story and very poignant. I just remember watching it, and I was so struck by it. I loved seeing it on the list.”
Tell us your favorites in the comments below, or take to social media with #XFINITYLGBTQ. Be sure to join NCLR in celebrating their 40th anniversary! To learn more, visit nclrights.org 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