Keep the yuletide gay with these 20 queer holiday films

The holiday film genre’s growing inclusion of LGBTQ people and storylines means that every year the options for what to watch with family and friends on a cold winter day expand. 

Decades-old, barrier-breaking films like 1971’s “Some of My Best Friends Are…” transport viewers to the Stonewall era, while more recent favorites like 2020’s “The Christmas House” have brought queer joy to the Hallmark storylines that have long catered to straight audiences. 

Below are 20 films that have helped generations of fans keep their yuletides gay. 

‘A Holiday I Do’ (2023) 

A single mom (Lindsay Hicks) shows unconditional support for her ex-husband-turned-best-friend by agreeing to be the best woman at his upcoming Christmas wedding. What she didn’t expect was to fall for his wedding planner (Rivkah Reyes). It’s the newest holiday rom-com from Tello Films, a streaming service focused on queer women’s stories. 

‘The Holiday Sitter’ (2022)

Hallmark’s first holiday rom-com to center on an LGBTQ couple follows Sam (Jonathan Bennett), a workaholic bachelor who reluctantly agrees to babysit his niece and nephew before his solo vacation. Completely out of his depth, Sam enlists the help of their dashing neighbor, Jason (George Krissa), who is in the process of adopting a child of his own, and soon finds himself caught in an unexpected romance.

‘Single All the Way’ (2021)

Tony-winning director Michael Mayer (“Spring Awakening”) helms Netflix’s first gay holiday film, which sees perpetually single Peter (Michael Urie) begging his best friend, Nick (Philemon Chambers), to come home with him and pretend to be his boyfriend to put an end to his family’s constant meddling.

‘The Bitch Who Stole Christmas’ (2021)

RuPaul expands his empire with his first holiday movie, which sees the drag icon playing a grinchy fashion editor who sends journalist Krysta Rodriguez (Netflix’s “Halston”) to a small town obsessed with Christmas. But far from a winter wonderland, she encounters “cut-throat housewives, a high-stakes ‘Winter Ball’ competition and a sinister plot that could destroy Christmas fore-evah!” according to the film’s synopsis.

‘Under the Christmas Tree’ (2021)

Lifetime followed up on its first LGBTQ holiday film, “The Christmas Setup,” with a lesbian story set in the picturesque woods of Maine. Charlie Freemont (Tattiawna Jones) is searching for the perfect Christmas tree to display at the governor’s mansion — and finds it in Alma Beltran’s (Elise Bauman) backyard. While they initially butt heads, according to the official description, “romantic sparks soon begin to fly between the two women as the enchanting tree and some Christmas fairy dust from the town’s pâtissière extraordinaire (Ricki Lake) bring out the best in them.”

‘A Jenkins Family Christmas’ (2021)

After the death of the family patriarch, adult sisters Baneatta and Beverly (Regina Taylor and Kim Coles) try to continue family Christmas traditions despite long-simmering resentments. Baneatta’s gay son, Kenny (Anthony Chatmon II), brings his boyfriend, Logan (Derek Chadwick), home for the holidays but is given an icy reception. Will Logan’s pushing Kenny to stand up to his overbearing mother bring them closer together or drive them apart?

‘Christmas at the Ranch’ (2021)

This cowgirl Christmas love story (yes, “Brokeback Mountain” does come up) follows businesswoman Haley Hollis (Laur Allen) as she returns home to Tennessee to save her family’s ranch from foreclosure. While there, sparks fly with ranch hand Kate (Amanda Righetti) as they spend time together riding horses, going on hayrides and growing closer together.

‘Happiest Season’ (2020)

In this Hulu holiday rom-com directed by queer icon Clea DuVall, Abby (Kristen Stewart) plans on proposing to her girlfriend, Harper (Mackenzie Davis), on Christmas Day in front of Harper’s entire family. But things get complicated when Abby discovers that Harper hasn’t actually come out to her family yet.

‘A New York Christmas Wedding’ (2020)

In this Netflix holiday movie, Jennifer Ortiz (Nia Fairweather) finds herself haunted by “what ifs” as her New York City wedding approaches. A near accident forces her to reconsider what could’ve been had her best friend and first love (Natasha Goodman) been around for longer. Fairweather has insisted that the film is “not tragic,” but that it asks big questions as it explores “queerness, ethnicity and culture.”

‘The Christmas Setup’ (2020)

Lifetime’s first holiday movie to feature an LGBTQ romance as the main storyline follows Hugo (Ben Lewis), a New York lawyer, and his best friend, Madelyn (Ellen Wong), as Hugo spends the holidays in Milwaukee with his matchmaking mom, Kate (Fran Drescher). When Kate sets Hugo up with Patrick (Blake Lee), Hugo’s high school friend and secret crush, there is an undeniable, mutual attraction between the two. But when Hugo receives news of a job promotion in London, he must choose what is most important to him.

‘The Christmas House’ (2020)

Hallmark made history in 2020 when it debuted its first holiday movie featuring a gay lead character. Jonathan Bennett, who is himself gay, is one half of the Mitchells, a couple anxiously waiting for a call about the future of their family as they head home for Christmas. “What I love about the characters in the movie is that we aren’t caricatures or stereotypes,” Bennett previously told NBC News. “We are two loving, stable, kind men who are in love and want to start a family of our own.”

‘Tangerine’ (2015)

Shot entirely on an iPhone, director Sean Baker’s groundbreaking dramedy sees transgender sex workers Sin-Dee (Kitana Kiki Rodriguez) and Alexandra (Mya Taylor) tracking down Sin-Dee’s two-timing boyfriend on Christmas Eve. It’s definitely not one to watch with the kids on Christmas morning, but breakout performances from first-time actors Rodriguez and Taylor, coupled with juicy slices of dark comedy and gritty realism, make “Tangerine” a unique holiday classic.

‘Carol’ (2015)

This lesbian Christmas classic needs no introduction. Academy Award-winner Cate Blanchett shines opposite Rooney Mara in Todd Haynes’ adaptation of Patricia Highsmith’s 1952 novel, “The Price of Salt.” The film has remained a staple of sapphic cinema since its 2015 release, with many queer women now permanently dubbing the holidays “Carol Season.”

‘Love the Coopers’ (2015)

Diane Keaton and John Goodman play a couple of 40 years who want to have one last “perfect” family Christmas before announcing their impending divorce. The cast includes Olivia Wilde, Amanda Seyfried, June Squibb, Marisa Tomei, Timothée Chalamet and future Avenger Anthony Mackie as a closeted cop who finally finds the courage to come out.

‘Make the Yuletide Gay’ (2009)

College student Gunn (Keith Jordan) is totally out at school, but he hasn’t gotten around to telling his Midwestern family that he’s gay and that his “roommate,” Nathan (Adamo Ruggiero of “Degrassi”), is actually his boyfriend. Gunn’s mom and dad try to set him up with an old high school girlfriend over Christmas, but the tinsel really unravels when Nathan shows up unannounced.

‘The Family Stone’ (2005)

Sarah Jessica Parker stars as Meredith, an uptight Manhattan executive who dreads meeting her boyfriend Everett’s boisterous family over the holidays. In a side plot, Everett’s gay deaf brother reveals that he and his partner are planning to adopt.

‘Rent’ (2005)

Jonathan Larson’s 1996 smash Broadway hit didn’t make it to the big screen for nearly a decade, but when it did, much of its original cast jumped onboard, including Taye Diggs, Anthony Rapp and Idina Menzel. This powerful film — which touches on gay relationships, HIV/AIDS, substance abuse and gentrification — all takes place in the week between Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve.

‘Holiday Heart’ (2000)

In the 1990s, directors loved putting macho actors in drag. In this made-for-Showtime movie from the turn of the century, it was Ving Rhames’ turn. The “Pulp Fiction” star plays a big-hearted drag queen, the titular Holiday Heart, who takes in a crack-addicted mom (Alfre Woodard) and her daughter over the holidays. Directed by Robert Townsend and produced by Robert De Niro, the film earned Woodard a Golden Globe nomination.

‘Home for the Holidays’ (1995)

Jodie Foster was more than a decade away from coming out herself when she directed this inclusive multigenerational holiday movie starring Holly Hunter, Claire Danes, Anne Bancroft, Charles Durning, Dylan McDermott and Robert Downey Jr. Downey plays Tommy, the acerbic gay black sheep of the Larson family who nonetheless gets a love interest (of sorts).

‘Some of My Best Friends Are…’ (1971)

This low-budget holiday gem from writer-director Mervyn Nelson centers on a group of regulars who gather at the Blue Jay, a Greenwich Village gay bar, on Christmas Eve 1971. Co-starring Rue McClanahan, Fannie Flagg, trans pioneer Candy Darling and Gary Sandy, “Some of My Best Friends Are…” is an astonishingly candid time capsule of the Stonewall era that reminds us that gays have been forging chosen families for generations.

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