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Although Christmas is camp as tits, holiday films have – like Candace Cameron Bure [insert hiss sound here] – been reluctant to embrace queerness. No more!

In recent years, the yuletide has been queerified with several networks and streaming services putting LGBTQIA+ stories at the forefront of Mariah Carey’s annual holiday, from Netflix’s Single All The Way to Lifetime’s The Holiday Sitter and Hulu’s Happiest Season; the latter of which made history as the first gay Christmas film released by a major studio.

If you’ve had enough of watching Will Ferrell parade around as an eccentric elf-human and Catherine O’Hara as a negligent parent, check out some of these recent LGBTQIA+ films that are on their way to becoming Christmas classics.

The Bitch Who Stole Christmas (2021)

Cast: RuPaul, Krysta Rodriguez, Michelle Visage, Ross Matthews, Carson Kressley, Peppermint, Latrice Royale, Laganja Estranja, Pandora Boxx, Brooke Lynn Hytes, Kimora Blac, Heidi N Closet, Porkchop, Gottmik, Jaymes Mansfield, Jan, Ginger Minj, Chad Michaels, Kelly Mantle, Rock M Sakura, Kylie Sonique Love, Mayhem Miller, Manila Luzon, Morgan McMichaels, Raven, Kim Petras, Charo, Anna Maria Horsford

Boasting an all-star cast with Drag Race alum such as Brooke Lynn Hytes, Chad Michaels, Ginger Minj, Kylie Sonique Love, Manila Luzon and Peppermint, The Bitch Who Stole Christmas follows a fashion journalist (Krysta Rodriguez) who is sent on an assignment to a Christmas-loving town by her ruthless editor (RuPaul). With the intention of digging up a juicy story, she unexpectedly gets involved in the town’s yearly winter ball competition. Of course, the festivities has its dark side with cutthroat housewives and ruthless townfolk seeking to ruin the holiday season. Slay! (Sleigh?) The feel-good comedy also features appearances from Michelle Visage, Ross Matthews, Carson Kressley, Kim Petras, Charo and Anna Maria Horsford.

Carol (2015)

Cast: Cate Blanchett, Rooney Mara, Sarah Paulson, Jake Lacy, Kyle Chandler, John Magaro, Cory Michael Smith

Set 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). Watching the effects of homophobia and a jealous soon-to-be-ex-husband on their relationship is heartbreaking, and if nothing else, the pure melodrama of it all will get you in a state of melancholy. Blanchett received universal critical acclaim for her performance, earning nominations at the Academy Awards, Golden Globes, BAFTAs, Critics Choice Movie Awards and Screen Actors Guild Awards. We challenge you to find a film more breathtaking and heartbreaking than Carol.

The Christmas House (2020)

Cast: Jonathan Bennett, Brad Harder, Robert Buckley, Ana Ayora, Treat Williams, Sharon Lawrence

Hallmark kicked off the decade with their first-ever gay Christmas film, The Christmas House, following Brandon (Jonathan Bennett) and his husband Jake (Brad Harder) as they visit the former’s parents for the holidays, where they anxiously await 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.” It received praise from viewers and was followed by a sequel, The Christmas House 2: Deck Those Halls.

The Christmas Setup (2020)

Cast: Ben Lewis, Blake Lee, Ellen Wong, Fran Drescher

Ben Lewis, known to audiences for his role as William Clayton on Arrow, plays an NYC-based lawyer called Hugo who returns to his small hometown in Milwaukee to spend Christmas with his best friend Madelyn (Ellen Wong) and mum Kate (Fran Drescher). Unbeknownst to him, Madelyn has arranged for Hugo to run into his high school friend and former crush Patrick (played by Lewis’ real-life husband Blake Lee), who has returned from a successful stint in Silicon Valley. After being offered a job promotion, which would see him relocate to London, Hugo is forced to reconsider his life etc. The Christmas Setup received a nomination for the 2021 GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding TV Movie.

Dashing in December (2020)

Cast: Peter Porte, Juan Pablo Di Pace, Andie MacDowell, Caroline Harris, Carlos Sanz, Katherine Bailess

Dashing in December (what a title!) stars Pete Porte of Young and the Restless fame as Wyatt Burwall, a prim and proper city man who returns to his rural hometown for the holidays (we love this trope, love). 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 his property, Heath makes it his mission to awaken the spirit of Christmas in Wyatt. It’s cute, it’s gay and it stars Andie MacDowell as Wyatt’s mother Deb. Enough said, right?


Happiest Season (2020)

Cast: Kristen Stewart, Mackenzie Davis, Dan Levy, Aubrey Plaza, Alison Brie, Mary Holland, Mary Steenburgen, Victor Garber

Writer, actor and director Clea DuVall, who instantly earned LGBTQIA+ icon status with her role in But I’m a Cheerleader, helmed the first major LGBTQIA+ Christmas film in 2020 with Happiest Season. Released to overwhelmingly positive reviews, the rom-com puts queer female narratives at the forefront with Abby (Kristen Stewart) and Harper (Mackenzie Davis). When the couple attend the latter’s annual Christmas festivities, 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). If you weren’t convinced by all the mega-stars mentioned, Happiest Season also stars Aubrey Plaza (!) and Dan Levy (!). Yes, we need a sequel and we need it now.

The Holiday Sitter (2022)

Cast: Jonathan Bennett, George Krissa, Chelsea Hobbs, Everett Andres, Matthew James Dowden, Amy Goodmurphy

Another “first-ever” incoming! Last year, Hallmark launched their first-ever gay Christmas film with The Holiday Sitter. Mean Girls star Jonathan Bennett – the unofficial King of Gay Christmas Movies – plays Sam, a “workaholic bachelor” who recruits his ridiculously ripped neighbour Jason (George Krissa) to help him babysit his niece and nephew over the holiday period. Discussing the film with HollywoodLife, Bennett said the film “isn’t just for a queer audience” because Christmas is “for everybody”. He explained: “The Holiday Sitter’s for everybody, and I know so many people are going to watch this movie and feel so seen and feel like they have a seat at the Hallmark holiday table.”

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

What a cast, huh? Diane Keaton! Rachel McAdams! Claire Danes! Sarah Jessica Parker! The latter leads the film as Meredith Morton, an uptight career woman who reluctantly spends Christmas with her boyfriend Everett’s (Dermot Mulroney) family. 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

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 is still mourning 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. It’s fantastical, Christmassy and nostalgic as hell and is guaranteed to make you blubber.

Rent (2005)

Cast: Rosario Dawson, Taye Diggs, Wilson Jermaine Heredia, Jesse L. Martin, Idina Menzel, Adam Pascal, Anthony Rapp, Tracie Thomas

Broadway’s iconic musical of the same name received its first live-action adaptation in 2005 with Chris Columbus’ Rent, which depicts the lives of several impoverished New York City 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. Rent was met with mixed reviews upon release. Over time, however, the musical drama has been retrospectively appreciated and has earned cult classic status.

Single All The Way (2021)

Cast: Michael Urie, Philemon Chambers, Kathy Najimy, Barry Bostwick, Luke Macfarlane, Jennifer Coolidge

Netflix made history in 2021 with Single All The Way, their first-ever Christmas film focusing on a gay romance. The rom-com follows Peter (Michael Urie) as he persuades his best friend Nick (Philemon Chambers) to pose as his boyfriend on a trip home for the holidays to avoid his family’s judgement about his perpetual single status. Peter’s mother (Kathy Najimy), however, sets him up on a blind date with her handsome trainer (Luke Macfarlane) and their plan goes… awry. Single All The Way also stars Jennifer Coolidge as Peter’s Aunt Sandy, Barry Bostwick as Harold, Jennifer Robertson as Lisa, Madison Brydges as Daniela, Alexandra Beaton as Sofia, Steve Lund as Tim and Melanie Leishman as Ashleigh.

Tangerine (2015)

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 the trans experience 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.