This year has seen an explosion of gay and lesbian Christmas films, a major change to a genre that has historically excluded LGBTQ+ people.
Although from its pageantry to its camp to its carols, Christmas has actually always been queer — and films, implicitly and explicitly, have nodded at that for decades.
Take a sleigh ride to the productions that made the Yuletide gay and choose your movie for this Christmas. And don’t choose Home Alone again, because he is not the only one, who has to stay home this year!!!
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964)
The classic animated Christmas special features several stories of mocked outsiders who find strength in their differences, including Rudolph and Hermey, an elf who would rather be a dentist than make toys. While Hermey was clearly not an out character, he was the closest thing to queer for a children’s production in this era.
Too Cool for Christmas (2004)
Last year, a 2004 holiday film called Too Cool for Christmas went viral after it was discovered that there was an alternate version, A Very Cool Christmas, which featured straight instead of gay parents. Director Sam Irvin said it was a common practice to shoot different versions of films for different markets with varying levels of acceptance toward LGBTQ+ issues — which, actually, still happens today.
The Family Stone (2005)
In the star-studded The Family Stone, everyone hates the uptight Meredith (Sarah Jessica Parker) when Everett (Dermot Mulroney) brings her home to meet his family for a surprise proposal. But everyone loves Thad and Patrick, a gay couple trying to adopt their first child. In a family of straight messes, it was refreshing (in 2005) to see the gays keeping it together for the holidays.
Make the Yuletide Gay (2009)
A 2009 romantic comedy from Rob Williams in which Gunn (Keith Jordan), who is out at college, goes back into the closet for the holidays to appease his parents. Then his “roommate,” Nathan (Adamo Ruggiero), shows up and the Yuletide, inevitably, is made gay.
Carol, about a soon-to-be-divorced New Jersey socialite and a mother who falls for Therese, the shopgirl who is, as Carol notes, “flung out of space,” earned six Oscar nominations, even if it was snubbed in the Best Picture category. Still, it was the first Oscar-worthy love story about a female couple in which a man does not steal focus and that doesn’t end in disaster or death for the women. In fact, the hopeful ending of both the film and the novel it’s based on offer a possible happily-ever-after for Carol (Cate Blanchett) and Therese (Rooney Mara).
Carol begins during the days before Christmas and includes Carol and Therese consummating their desire during a road trip on New Year’s Eve. There’s a Santa hat, Christmas tree shopping, booze, family turmoil, and the glow of Christmas lights reflecting off of snowy surfaces. Watching Carol for Christmas has become a bit of a holiday tradition, especially among queer women.
Season of Love (2019)
From Tello Films, the romantic comedy Season of Love follows several female couples from Christmas to the new year “who discover love truly is the best gift of all,” according to the logline. Tello founder Christin Baker directs the film from Kathryn Tramell’s script. Wynonna Earp’s Dominique Provost-Chalkley, True Blood and A Perfect Ending’s Jessica Clark, Emily Goss, Laur Allen, Sandra Mae Frank, and Janelle Marie costar in the movie that follows a cross section of friendships and love stories during the holiday season.
The Christmas Setup (2020)
On the network known for its made-for-TV movies, Lifetime’s The Christmas Setup stars real-life husbands Blake Lee and Ben Lewis, who fall in love all over again on-screen. Lewis plays Hugo, a New York City lawyer who goes to Milwaukee with his best friend, Madelyn (GLOW’s Ellen Wong), to spend Christmas with his mom, played by The Nanny’s Fran Drescher. A meddling matchmaker who also runs the local holiday festivities, Hugo’s mom, Kate, arranges for him to run into his old crush Patrick (Lee), who’s home from his high-powered job in Silicon Valley. The hitch? Hugo is offered a job in London just as things begin to get good.
Happiest Season (2020)
The first LGBTQ+-focused holiday rom-com backed by a major studio, Happiest Season is directed by Clea DuVall and written by her and her writing partner Mary Holland. It tells the story of Harper (Davis) and Abby (Stewart), who run into problems when, as they are headed home for the holidays to visit Harper’s overachieving family, Harper reveals some crucial information. The movie costars Holland, Dan Levy, Victor Garber, Mary Steenburgen, Alison Brie, Aubrey Plaza, and Ana Gasteyer. It’s a full-on same-sex romantic comedy with all of the holiday fixings. And it also features a soundtrack of all LGBTQ+ musicians that is the icing on the gingerbread people cookies.
The Christmas House (2020)
Hallmark got into the gay Christmas movie game this year with The Christmas House, starring Jonathan Bennett (Mean Girls) as Brandon and Brad Harder as Jake, a gay couple returning home for the holidays while also anxiously awaiting a call from an agency about adopting their first child. Treat Williams and Sharon Lawrence star as Brandon’s parents in this sure-to-be heartwarming movie from the network renowned for its wholesome fare.
Ghosting: The Spirit of Christmas
In Ghosting: The Spirit of Christmas from Freeform, Kimiko Glenn (Orange Is the New Black) and Aisha Dee (The Bold Type) play classic holiday rom-com best friends with an unexpected holiday rom-com problem: Dee’s character dies unexpectedly and returns as a ghost. Glenn’s Kara is a tea enthusiast who begins to fall for graduate student Mae (Jazz Raycole). As the plot unfolds, their queer romance blossoms and fits seamlessly into the story.
Dashing in December (2020)
What’s better than gay cowboys? Gay cowboys at Christmas! And that’s exactly what Dashing in December delivers when Wyatt (Peter Porte), a New York City financier, connects with his roots and a handsome ranch hand on his mom’s ranch/Winter Wonderland attraction when he returns home for the holidays to try to convince her to sell the place. While visiting his mother, Deb, played by Andie MacDowell, Wyatt meets Heath (Juan Pablo Di Pace) and the attraction is palpable. Cue the Brokeback Mountain, God’s Own Country gay ranch vibe, albeit with a decidedly happier ending for all.
Pink In Our Lives wishes you all a Merry Christmas and Happy Holigays. Enjoy the movies and make the best out of staying home safe.
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Lesley Middleton, owner of PINK IN OUR LIVES
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