By Alys Garcia Carerra and Lourdes Zavaleta
It’s the most wonderful time of the year to binge holiday movies, and 2020 brings a record-breaking six new winter-themed films that focus on LGBTQ romance—relationships that are often overlooked by the media giants.
Compare this gusher of queer holiday movie releases to last year, when the only holiday flick to feature an LGBTQ love story was Christin Baker’s Season of Love for the lesbian-media streaming service Tello Films. (A few 2019 holiday movies, including Netflix’s Let It Snow and Freeform’s Ghosting: The Spirit of Christmas, featured queer characters in supporting roles within their larger heteronormative plots.)
In the past, LGBTQ activists have criticized media powerhouses Hallmark and Lifetime for never having spotlighted a same-sex or trans storyline, despite releasing dozens of holiday films each year. These media networks and others were determined to make a difference in 2020 by finally releasing seasonal movies with queer plotlines.
And best of all, the sudden surge of LGBTQ holiday films does not mean that any of them are lacking in quality. Each of these movies highlights a unique queer experience. So be sure to stock up on hot cocoa and schedule a movie marathon, because these films are either available now or coming soon to a screen near you.
The Christmas House
Hallmark was under fire from religious activists in 2019, when the cable network aired a wedding commercial featuring a same-sex couple. But the channel decided to double down on its efforts to showcase LGBTQ characters by creating The Christmas House, its first-ever queer holiday film.
In the movie, openly gay Mean Girls star Jonathan Bennett plays Brandon, whose parents are having marriage troubles. They summon Brandon and his brother home to New York for what might be the last Christmas in their childhood home. Brandon and his husband, Jake (portrayed by Brad Harder), make their way home for the festivities, but their visit is filled with anxiety as the couple awaits a call about the adoption of their first child.
Written by and starring Robert Buckley, a longtime LGBTQ ally whose brother is gay, The Christmas House is out now, and co-stars Treat Williams, Sharon Lawrence, and Ana Ayora. For more information, visit hallmarkchannel.com/the-christmas-house.
The Happiest Season
This Hulu Original, written and directed by lesbian icon Clea Duvall (and starring out actress Kristen Stewart), has been highly anticipated since it was announced.
The Happiest Season follows young lesbian couple Abby (Stewart) and Harper (Mackenzie Davis) as they travel to spend the holidays with Harper’s conservative and wealthy family, where Abby plans to propose. But upon their arrival, Abby finds out that Harper has yet to come out to her family. The film promises laughter, tears, and a seemingly happy ending—all the components of a holiday classic in the making.
And if that isn’t enough, the movie also features a star-studded cast including out Schitt’s Creek star Dan Levy (who was recently named Sexiest Man Alive by People magazine), Aubrey Plaza, Alison Brie, and Victor Garber. To stream The Happiest Season now, visit hulu.com.
The Christmas Setup
Last year, Lifetime’s Twinkie All the Way featured the network’s first same-sex holiday kiss. Now, the TV channel debuts its first holiday film centered on gay romance, and stars real-life married couple Blake Lee and Ben Lewis.
When New York City lawyer Hugo (Lewis) returns home to Milwaukee to celebrate the holidays with his family, his mother, Kate (Fran Drescher), plays matchmaker by aligning the stars so that her son crosses paths with his old high school friend and crush Patrick (Lee). Hugo and Patrick quickly connect, but then Hugo learns that he’s up for a promotion that would require him to relocate to London. Hugo is forced to decide whether to take the promotion or stick around to see where his relationship with Patrick goes.
The Christmas Setup airs on Lifetime on December 12 at 8 p.m. For more information, visit mylifetime.com/movies/the-christmas-setup.
A New York Christmas Wedding
Netflix’s latest LGBTQ original movie, A New York Christmas Wedding, features bisexual lead character Jennifer (Nia Fairweather), who begins to second-guess her upcoming wedding to her fiancé after his overbearing mother insists on a massive Christmas wedding for her son, with little regard for the bride’s wishes.
Jennifer, who is mourning the recent death of her father, is also missing her deceased best friend, Gabrielle (Adriana DeMeo). Jennifer’s guardian angel, Azrael (Cooper Koch), appears and creates an alternate world in which Jennifer’s father and Gabrielle are still alive, and Jennifer gets a second shot at love with Gabrielle.
A New York Christmas Wedding is streaming now on Netflix.com.
Dashing in December
Paramount is hoping to make the yuletide gayer with Dashing in December, a gay cowboy film starring Peter Porter and Juan Pablo Di Pace.
The film tells the story of New York City financier Wyatt (Porter), who visits his mom’s ranch for the holidays to try and convince her to sell this winter wonderland attraction. While visiting, Wyatt meets Heath (Di Paci), a handsome ranch hand who loves working on the property, and the two soon begin to have feelings for each other.
Dashing in December is set to premiere December 13 on Paramount TV with simulcasts on Logo, Pop, and TV Land. For more information, visit paramountnetwork.com.
I Hate New Year’s
Out filmmaker Christin Baker’s second LGBTQ holiday movie for Tello Films focuses on the New Year’s Eve holiday. This indie production features adventure, friendship, and (of course) romance.
When rising music star Layne (Dia Frampton) heads home to Nashville for New Year’s Eve to break her writer’s block, she finds inspiration—and love—where she least expected it. After a mysterious palm reading, Layne decides to rekindle an old relationship with the help of her best friend, Cassie (Ashley Argota), who, unbeknownst to her, is harboring more than platonic feelings for Layne. Promising and sweet, this film looks to be the perfect way to ring in the New Year.
I Hate New Year’s is available for streaming on Tello Films and all other streaming platforms beginning December 4. For more information, visit TelloFilms.com.
This article appears in the December 2020 edition of OutSmart magazine.