As soon as Thanksgiving is over, my family and I usually dust off our Hanukkah menorah, find our box of Christmas ornaments, and sit down to watch It’s a Wonderful Life. But this year, as I have successfully done in past years, I’m planning to suggest a queer holiday film. And now more than ever, when it comes to Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s, there are so many great choices.
Lez Bomb is a 2018 comedy-drama about a closeted lesbian who returns home for Thanksgiving with her lover, only to have her male roommate show up and be mistaken for her boyfriend. The film boasts stars such as Cloris Leachman, Brandon Micheal Hall (Search Party, God Friended Me) and Elaine Hendrix (who you may remember as Meredith Blake from The Parent Trap). But my favorite part of this movie is that it was filmed in Ramsey, NJ, which is the town next door to where I grew up. Lez Bomb is currently available to rent or purchase online.
This 2020 ensemble comedy stars Kat Dennings, Malin Akerman, and Aisha Tyler as they gather together for a chaotic Thanksgiving celebration with a loose circle of friends, lovers, ex-lovers, and family members. The best performances come from Chelsea Peretti (Brooklyn Nine-Nine) as a new-age shaman and Rhea Butcher, as a potential love interest for Dennings, who is grieving a breakup. The film also features a hilarious, yet all-too brief appearance from Wanda Sykes, Fortune Feimster, and Margaret Cho as fairy gay mothers to Dennings. Friendsgiving is currently available to rent or purchase online.
Last winter, the Hallmark Channel made headlines when it pulled commercials featuring a lesbian couple, though it later apologized and reinstated the ads. On November 22, the channel will be premiering its first LGBTQ-themed holiday movie, The Christmas House. The film focuses on a gay couple seeking to adopt a child and stars Jonathan Bennett (Mean Girls), who is in a same-sex relationship in real life.
On November 25, Hulu will premiere this Clea Duvall-directed romantic comedy starring Kristen Stewart and Mackenzie Davis as a lesbian couple returning home for Christmas. Similar to Lez Bomb, Harper (played by Davis) has not come out to her family, which includes Victor Garber as her father, Mary Steenburgen as her mother, and Alison Brie and Mary Holland as her two sisters. The film also co-stars comedic actors Dan Levy and Aubrey Plaza. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Stewart shared: “Seeing [marginalized] people loving each other in the middle of something that’s so standardized was really exhilarating and freeing. There’s a lack of confusion and generalization Clea brings [as a queer woman]. I want people to see that two girls in love is just so fun.”
Later this holiday season, Lifetime will also premiere its first holiday film with a lead LGBTQ romance, The Christmas Setup. This movie stars real-life same-sex couple Ben Lewis (Arrow) and Blake Lee (Parks and Recreation) as Hugo and Patrick, high school friends who are set up by Hugo’s mom (played by Fran Drescher). The Christmas Setup will air on Dec. 12 at 8 p.m. ET.
If you haven’t seen Season of Love, you are seriously missing out. I went to a screening of the film last year, and was so delighted to find a holiday film that brings together all the best cheesy rom-com tropes and a queer female ensemble. It’s like Love Actually, but super gay! Not to mention, the film stars an impressive lineup including Jessica Clark (True Blood, A Perfect Ending) and Dominique Provost-Chalkley (Wynonna Earp), who came out as queer earlier this year. Season of Love is available to rent or buy through Tello Films, which streams LGBTQ women’s content.
For a while, Carol was one of the only mainstream queer holiday films out there (if you’d even call it that). Even though we’ve come a long way since then, this film will always make my list. I’ve watched Carol dozens of times with other queer women, and it never disappoints. Now streaming on Netflix, this film, which garnered several Emmy and Golden Globe nominations, follows Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara on a slow burn of forbidden romance during the 1950s. And just recently, out lesbian Sarah Paulson (who also starred in the film) teased that she wants to make a Carol prequel with Blanchett. Sign me up!
The first long-form all-Black, all-lesbian friend ensemble holiday film, We Need a Little Christmas, follows a group of women who head to a cabin in the woods to celebrate Christmas. Santa Claus, laughter, and secrets ensue and the group is forced to face each other, and heal in the spirit of the season. This film is available via YouTube, and on December 4, it will also be available on Lesflicks. Click here to learn more about the filmmakers.
Based on the young adult novel of the same name written by John Green, Maureen Johnson, and Lauren Myracle, this 2019 Netflix romantic comedy follows a group of young people in Illinois on Christmas Eve. The film’s cast includes Kiernan Shipka (The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina) and Joan Cusack, and one of the story lines is a queer romance between actors Liv Hewson and Anna Akana, who are both part of the LGBTQ community.
This holiday season, Tello Films is returning with another queer holiday film, I Hate New Year’s. Starring Dia Frampton (The Voice), Ashley Argota (The Fosters), and Candis Cayne (The Magicians, I Am Cait), this film follows Layne Price (Frampton) on a trip home to Nashville for New Year’s Eve, where her best friend Cassie (Argota) is harboring a secret crush on her. The film features several electric musical performances from Frampton and Argota as well as a performance from 2015 American Idol contestant, Gina Venier. The film will be available on demand everywhere and on Tello Films on December 4.