Holiday feel-good films have a common denominator: cis white heterosexuals.
Come on, a lot of us already know the drill. Holiday films often have twenty or thirtysomething white folks dressed in contrasting red and green outfits, getting into silly hijinks before eventually falling in love. It’s a classic, straight-to-video holiday rom-com formula.
There’s a target demographic for these films (obviously). But it got me thinking: are celluloid holiday cheer only for folk accepted by conservative, homophobic families?
Good thing films like “Happiest Season” prove my ass wrong. In the past, we’ve questioned if there are queer films with happy endings (spoiler alert: They do exist). This season, we’re wondering if there are more holiday romance films for us in the LGBTQ+ community.
Lucky for us, there are enough to make a mini-watchlist. So cuddle with your partner or piss off your homophobic relatives with these queer holiday films:
“Happiest Season” (2020) dir. by Clea DuVall
The film that caused a ship war among sapphics. Directed by Clea DuVall, we are sucked into the lives of seemingly picture-perfect lesbian couple Abby (Kristen Stewart) and Harper (Mackenzie Davis). a Christmas-obsessed Harper somehow convinces her reluctant partner to go home with her for the holidays to meet her parents.
On the way to Harper’s childhood home, Abby soon finds out that her partner is keeping a lot of secrets from her family. The biggest one is the fact that Harper isn’t out to her conservative family just yet. It’s a fun yet anxiety-inducing film. Long story short: It’s pretty layered.
“Tokyo Godfathers” (2003) dir. by Satoshi Kon
It’s a found family film we all deserve. And yeah, we reco’d it before—but we’ll reco it again. “Tokyo Godfathers” follows the story of a transwoman, her partner, and a runaway kid bonding together to return a baby they found near the dumpster. It’s a roller coaster of emotions (duh, Christmas movies) but still ends in a good, heartwarming note.
“Carol” (2015) dir. by Todd Haynes
Y’all couldn’t take “Carol” of my cold, dead hands. I will never stop preaching about this queer holiday film filled with such intense gay panic. Starring Rooney Mara and Cate Blanchett, this film tells the blossoming friendship between an aspiring photographer and an almost divorcee. These fast friends’ platonic relationship becomes more complicated when they find themselves falling for each other.
“Anna and the Apocalypse” (2018) dir. by John McPhail
Did someone say Scottish zombie Christmas musical? No? Well, too fucking bad. It’s not exactly queer-centric but it is still a must-watch. In this film, we follow the story of high school students trying to survive the holidays in the middle of a zombie apocalypse. The group includes Steph, an integral member and is described as a “progressive, yet socially awkward” student. It’s not entirely an LGBTQ+ holiday film—but it is a wild one nonetheless.
“A New York Christmas Wedding” dir. by Otoja Abit
Plugged In’s critic Emily Clark says, “At its most basic level, [‘A New York Christmas Wedding’] really is about a wedding at Christmas in New York. But don’t let the title fool you.”
To be honest, I never thought I’d see bi rights in a holiday movie—Abit’s film really proved me wrong. It follows soon-to-be-bride Jennifer (Nia Fairweather) getting cold feet before her wedding. With the help of a Christmas angel (yes, I didn’t stutter), she gets a second shot at love with her former partner Gabrielle. Think “A Christmas Carol” logic but make it gay.
“Female Trouble” (1974) dir. by John Waters
A John Waters film is both chaotic and queer AF—“Female Trouble” is no exception. Waters’ amazing muse Divine plays an obnoxious woman who gives birth to a child, and embarks on a violent life of crime. If you’re into a drag queen Godzilla ending consumerism in her slippers screaming “Fuck you, I hate you,” then this film is for you.
“Make the Yuletide Gay” (2009) dir. by Rob Williams
We can call this the beta test of “Happiest Season.” In Williams’ rom-com, an out-and-proud son drags himself back in the closet while visiting his folks for the holidays. But his almost perfect plan fails when his partner arrives unannounced. Dealing with this clusterfuck, the couple must now come up with a plan to keep their secret.
Still from “Happiest Season”