While the number of LGBTQ+ dramas and rom-coms have seen a steady increase year upon year, the same can’t be said for the Christmas genre, which still has a rocky track record with queer inclusion. This year, however, the queer community sleighed the holiday season with several history-making films, from Clea DuVall’s Happiest Season to Lifetime’s The Christmas Setup. Here, we’ve rounded up ten of the best films that will provide you with all the festive queer this Christmas.
Cast: Cate Blanchett, Rooney Mara, Sarah Paulson, Jake Lacy, Kyle Chandler, John Magaro, Cory Michael Smith
Set during Christmas in the 1950s, Carol stars Cate Blanchett as an older woman navigating a difficult divorce who embarks on a forbidden affair with an aspiring female photographer (Rooney Mara). Blanchett won universal acclaim for her performance, ultimately earning nominations at the Academy Awards, Golden Globes, BAFTAs, Critics Choice Movie Awards and Screen Actors Guild Awards.
The Christmas House (2020)
Cast: Jonathan Bennett, Brad Harder, Robert Buckley, Ana Ayora, Treat Williams, Sharon Lawrence
Hallmark’s first ever gay Christmas film follows Brandon (Jonathan Bennett) and his husband Jake (Brad Harder) as they visit Brandon’s parents for the holidays, during which they are anxiously awaiting a call about the adoption of their first child. Bill (Treat Williams) and Phylis (Sharon Lawrence), their parents, hope that “bringing the family together to recreate the Christmas house will help them find resolution and make a memorable holiday for the entire family and community.”
The Christmas Setup (2020)
Cast: Ben Lewis, Blake Lee, Ellen Wong, Fran Drescher
Ben Lewis, known for his role as William Clayton on Arrow, plays an NYC-based lawyer who returns home to Milwaukee to spend Christmas with his best friend (Ellen Wong) and mum (Fran Drescher). Unbeknownst to him, Madelyn has arranged for Hugo to run into his high school friend and former crush (played by Lewis’ real-life husband Blake Lee), who has returned from a successful stint in Silicon Valley.
Dashing in December (2020)
Cast: Peter Porte, Juan Pablo Di Pace, Andie MacDowell, Caroline Harris, Carlos Sanz, Katherine Bailess
Young And The Restless star Pete Porte plays Wyatt Burwall, a prim and proper city man who comes back to his rural hometown for the holidays. Along the way, he meets their new ranch hand Heath Ramos (Juan Pablo Di Pace) and – surprise, surprise! – a romance unexpectedly ignites between them. As well as saving the property, Heath makes it his mission to reawaken the spirit of Christmas in Wyatt. Four Weddings and a Funeral’s Andie MacDowell co-stars as Wyatt’s mother Deb.
Happiest Season (2020)
Cast: Kristen Stewart, Mackenzie Davis, Dan Levy, Aubrey Plaza, Alison Brie, Mary Holland, Mary Steenburgen, Victor Garber
Released in November to critical acclaim, the Clea DuVall-directed rom-com follows the story of Abby (Kristen Stewart) and Harper (Mackenzie Davis), a lesbian couple who attend the latter’s annual Christmas festivities. Upon arrival, Abby discovers that Harper hasn’t come out to her conservative parents (Mary Steenburgen and Victor Garber), as well as her dysfunctional sisters (Alison Brie and Mary Holland). Happiest Season made history as the first major LGBTQ+ Christmas film.
The Family Stone (2005)
Cast: Diane Keaton, Craig T. Nelson, Dermot Mulroney, Luke Wilson, Elisabeth Reaser, Tyrone Giordano, Rachel McAdams, Sarah Jessica Parker, Claire Danes, Brian J. White
The Family Stone stars Sarah Jessica Parker as Meredith Morton, an uptight career woman who travels with her boyfriend Everett (Dermot Mulroney) to attend his family’s Christmas celebrations. There, Everett plans to propose with the family’s cherished heirloom ring, but finds himself in hot water with his relatives when they come into conflict with Meredith. During dinner, Everett’s deaf gay brother Thad (Tyrone Giordano) and his partner Patrick (Brian J. White) announce their plans to adopt a child, which prompts a fierce debate about sexuality and nature vs nurture.
Let It Snow (2019)
Cast: Isabela Merced, Shameik Moore, Odeya Rush, Mitchell Hope, Kiernan Shipka, Joan Cusack, Liv Hewson, Anna Akana, Jacob Batalon, Matthew Noszka, D’Arcy Carden
Based on the best-selling book by John Green, Maureen Johnson and Lauren Myracle, Let It Snow follows a group of high school seniors whose friendships and love lives collide after a snowstorm hits their small town on Christmas Eve. The movie features a same-sex romance between two characters played by Liv Hewson (Santa Clarita Diet) and YouTube star Anna Akana. Even better, both actors are queer in real life – Liv is non-binary and gay, while Anna is bisexual.
A New York Christmas Wedding (2020)
Cast: Nia Fairweather, Otoja Abit, Adriana DeMeo, Tyra Ferrell, Cooper Koch
Netflix’s latest LGBTQ+ film, A New York Christmas Wedding, features a lead bisexual character in Jennifer (Nia Fairweather), who is in the midst of planning her wedding to David (Otoja Abit). However, she second-guesses the marriage when her fiancé’s monster-in-law mother (Tyra Ferrell) insists on conducting the ceremony her way. Jennifer, who still mourns the loss of her father and best friend Gabrielle (Adriana DeMeo), receives a visit from her guardian angel Azrael (Cooper Koch), who whisks her off to an alternate world in which both are still alive. There, Jennifer gets a second shot at love with Gabrielle.
Cast: Rosario Dawson, Taye Diggs, Wilson Jermaine Heredia, Jesse L. Martin, Idina Menzel, Adam Pascal, Anthony Rapp, Tracie Thomas
Based on the 1996 Broadway musical of the same name, Rent depicts the lives of several impoverished artists during the holiday season as they struggle with sexuality, drugs and paying their rent, all while under the shadow of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Lower Manhattan’s East Village. Although the film received mixed reviews at the time, it has since earned cult classic status.
Cast: Kitana Kiki Rodriguez, Mya Taylor, James Ransome, Mickey O’Hagan
Filmed using three iPhone 5S smartphones, Tangerine follows LA-based trans sex worker Sin-Dee (Kitana Kiki Rodriguez) who finds out from best friend Alexandra (Mya Taylor) that her boyfriend-slash-pimp Chester (James Ransome) has been cheating on her with a cisgender woman while she’s been in prison. Set on Christmas Eve, what follows is a hilarious and heartwarming buddy comedy that manages to put trans narratives front-and-centre without reducing them to victims or forcing sympathy from viewers. Tangerine also (importantly) set a precedent for casting trans actors in trans roles.