It’s time to make the yuletide hella gay this holiday season!
From Clea DuVall’s Happiest Season to Hallmark’s The Christmas House, this year has seen an explosion of gay Christmas films, a major change to a genre that has historically excluded LGBTQ+ people.
But that rule has not been true across the board. From its pageantry to its camp to its carols, Christmas has always been queer — and films, implicitly and explicitly, have nodded at that for decades.
Below, take a sleigh ride to the productions that made the yuletide gay.
Mixed nuts (1994)
Nora Ephron followed her hit rom-com Sleepless in Seattle with Mixed Nuts, a critically panned holiday ensemble flick led by Steve Martin as the head of a suicide-prevention hotline service. The film is notable for being the first movie appearance of Liev Schreiber, who portrays a transgender woman named Chris. The comedy does not hold up well in present day, but the character is memorable for a sweet romance she develops with a ukelele player named Louie (Adam Sandler).
Kate Beckinsale is Sara and John Cusack is Jonathan, who meet and begin a sweet courtship at Christmas before parting ways only to be reunited a few years later. Molly Shannon plays Sara’s lesbian best friend, Eve, who attends a bachelorette party in New York City where the main couple has a serendipitous encounter. Eve is not part of the central couple, but she’s integral to the plot.
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.
Holiday in handcuffs (2007)
The queen of Christmas movies, Melissa Joan Hart, stars in Holday in Handcuffs as a dumped waitress who has a nervous breakdown and kidnaps a customer, played by Mario Diaz, to bring home to her family as a boyfriend. If that doesn’t sound gay enough, the film also features a coming-out scene for her brother Jake (Kyle Howard).
Make the yuletide gay (2009)
Happiest Season stands on the shoulders of Make the Yuletide Gay, 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.
Scrooge & marley (2012)
Charles Dickens’s holiday classic A Christmas Carol gets a gay makeover in Scrooge & Marley. In this version of the oft-told story, Ebenezer (Ben) Scrooge is the owner of a piano bar, where he hates Christmas and underpays and terrorizes his employees. That is until he’s visited by one ghost who takes him to his past in a gay disco in the 1970s, to the present where his lesbian niece and her partner hold a heartwarming Christmas Eve party, and to the future where everyone essentially dances on his grave. Eventually, he sees the light and ends up donating money to the local LGBTQ+ center before spending Christmas with his niece.
Love the coopers (2015)
Dysfunction abounds at Christmas in Love the Coopers, which stars Diane Keaton as the matriarch of the family that comes together for one last holiday season before she announces that she and her husband (played by John Goodman) are splitting. Olivia Wilde, Marisa Tomei, Alan Arkin, and Amanda Seyfried play generations in the Cooper family. Anthony Mackie is a gay police officer struggling with coming out until he gets a boost from one of the Cooper family members.
Anna and the apocalypse (2018)
A zombie Christmas musical with queer characters sounds too good to exist, but it does in Anna and the Apocalypse. Dickinson’s Ella Hunt stars as Anna, a Scottish teen who wakes up to find herself in the middle of a zombie outbreak that is taking out everyone in her town. She, her friend Jonathan, and their badass lesbian choreographer Steph (Sarah Swire) set out to save their friends who are trapped at school, battling the undead and belting musical numbers all with the backdrop of holiday decorations.
A new york christmas wedding (2020)
Netflix’s latest LGBTQ+ holiday movie, A New York Christmas Wedding, which features a bisexual lead character, delves into the world of do-overs and second chances when Jennifer (Nia Fairweather) second-guesses her imminent wedding to her fiancé, David (Otoja Abit).
As is the stuff of Christmas flicks, a twist of fate brings Jennifer, who’s reeling from the recent loss of her father and the long-ago loss of her best friend, Gabrielle (Adriana DeMeo), together with her guardian angel, Azrael (Cooper Koch). He conjures an alternate world in which Gabrielle and Jennifer’s father are still alive and Jennifer gets a second shot at love with Gabrielle.
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.
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.
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.