Every year, media networks release dozens of holiday-themed romantic comedies, but those films have consistently failed to tell meaningful stories from an LGBTQ perspective, according to filmmaker Christin Baker.
Eager to change that, Baker (with Tello Films and DASH Productions) created Season of Love, a first-of-its-kind flick about six queer women living their busy lives between the Christmas and New Year’s holidays. The movie can be purchased for online streaming now.
“I’m both happy and sad to be a part of this project,” Baker admits. “I’m so excited that we were able to make a holiday film for LGBTQ women, but I’m shocked that it’s 2019 and this hasn’t already been done.”
Of the 50-plus Hallmark and Lifetime holiday films out this year, none feature an LGBTQ couple. While both rom-com juggernauts have made efforts to move towards diversity and inclusion by featuring people of color in leading roles, the networks still have a long way to go when it comes to spotlighting actors from other marginalized communities.
Baker describes their process in creating Season of Love: “We were intentional about everything, both on and off camera.” She notes that a majority of the cast and crew are women, many of whom are people of color and identify as LGBTQ. “Feeling the pressure of this being the first queer holiday rom-com, we wanted to set the bar high.”
Baker, along with Season of Love writer Kathryn Trammell, both identify as queer. Half of the film’s leading ladies—Jessica Clark, Emily Goss, and Sandra Mae Frank—are also openly LGBTQ.
Being a queer actor who gets to portray a queer character “is ideal,” Clark says. “The ability to represent people within my community is exciting. Also, it helps broaden people’s perception of the types of queer stories that are out there.”
Season of Love follows three lesbian couples at different stages in their relationships. Each relationship buds differently, but they all simultaneously enjoy (and stress over) holiday activities such as parties, gift-giving, and end-of-the-year work projects.
Iris (portrayed by Goss) gets left at the altar by her fiancée and accidentally sparks a romance with music producer Mardou (Laur Allen), who is her ex’s sister. Lou (Clark) is in the process of opening a business when she falls for her neighbor, Kenna (Frank), a deaf welder and artist. Janey (Janelle Marie) returns from her military deployment for the holidays and wants to take things to the next level with her longtime girlfriend, Sue (Dominique Provost-Chalkley).
More often than not, Hollywood’s LGBTQ representation usually showcases one same-sex couple at a time, or includes queer storylines as side-plots in heteronormative television shows or films. Following in the footsteps of television shows like Tales of the City, Queer as Folk, and The L Word, Season of Love allows several LGBTQ narratives to thrive as the film’s main focus.
Clark believes Season of Love’s multiple storylines gives the film authenticity. “We’re showcasing queer people in a new light,” she says. “In the past, in order to be understood, LGBTQ stories had to be rooted in our struggles—the hard times, the isolating times, or our coming-out experiences.
“All of those things are true, and there’s still an undeniable amount of work that needs to be done around the world to make things better for LGBTQ people,” Clark adds, “but we are just people. We fall in love, we have friends, and we celebrate the holidays just like everyone else. It’s great to portray the beautiful parts of our community as well.”
Season of Love’s creators should get the credit for the film’s accurate depictions of LGBTQ women, Goss says. “Representation must start from the top down. When there are diverse groups of people on a set, the story can become a better portrayal of the wider variety of life experiences. It goes to show how intentional our producers were about making a film for [the most diverse audience] they could.”
Baker hopes to see Season of Love take off, and potentially be the first of many more queer holiday rom-coms. “I’m hoping that this exponentially grows, and we create this new genre,” she says. “For now, support queer films—and happy holidays!”
Watch the Season of Love trailer below.
This article appears in the December 2019 edition of OutSmart magazine.