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LGBTQ+ Movies and Shows to Add to Your List This Holiday

Robyn Exton

Dec 09, 2021

LGBTQ+ Movies and Shows to Add to Your List This Holiday

The television and film industries have come a long way in recent years in terms of diversity and inclusion, particularly for LGBTQ+ people. While it’s not perfect, it’s far easier to find shows and movies with queer characters than it was ten years ago. Holiday films used to be renowned for sticking rigidly to so-called traditional family values. But things are changing. There are now several festive films and TV episodes that include families of all different kinds. Some of them are even good!

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Inclusive Holiday Specials You Won’t Want to Miss

The LGBTQ+ community is often forgotten about during the holidays. But there’s no reason you can’t make the yuletide gay. We all know that there are some queer films and shows that are terrible (as there are in most genres), so we’ve come up with a list of the good ones, to help you separate the wheat from the chaff.

Happiest Season

Last year, queers were blessed with Happiest Season, and LGBTQ+ holiday movies may never be the same (in a good way). Created and directed by lesbian icon Clea DuVall, the cast is incredibly gay (or just iconic), including Kristen Stewart, That Awkward moment’s Mackenzie Davis, Mad Men’s Alison Brie, Parks and Recreation star Aubrey Plaza, Schitt’s Creek star Dan Levy and Elf’s Mary Steenburgen.

It follows a lesbian (Stewart) who goes to spend the holidays with her girlfriend’s (Davis) parents (Steenburgen and Victor Garber), only to find out that they don’t know their daughter is gay. For an LGBTQ+ movie, it’s not the most original story in the world, but the cast makes it absolutely worth it. Dan Levy plays Stewart’s gay best friend and reinvents a tired trope as a hilarious character that fires off one-liners.  

Happiest Season is available now on Hulu, Amazon Prime, or Apple TV.

The Christmas Setup

The Christmas Setup is basically your classic rom-com, but gay and at Christmas. It made history as Lifetime’s first-ever LGBTQ+ Christmas film, in a huge step forward for the channel. It stars Scott Pilgrim vs. the World’s Ben Lewis, Parks and Recreation’s Blake Lee, also Scott Pilgrim’s Ellen Wong, and The Nanny’s Fran Drescher.

It follows Hugo (Lewis), a hotshot lawyer in New York who goes to visit his mother (Drescher) for Christmas with his best friend Madelyn (Wong). But on the trip, Hugo bumps into his high school crush (Lee) and suddenly has to reconsider what he actually wants from life, and just as he’s offered a promotion that would send him to London. It’s cheesy, it’s joyous, but it’s also utterly soul-crushing. Perhaps surprisingly, an absolutely excellent choice for your holiday movie.

The Christmas Setup is available now on Vudu and Amazon Prime.

Dashing in December

Dashing in December is a classic American holiday romantic drama, and it ticks all the boxes. It was even nominated for the GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding TV Movie (up against The Christmas Setup) but lost out to Uncle Frank. It stars The Young and The Restless’ Peter Porte, Mamma Mia’s Juan Pablo Di Pace, and Four Weddings and a Funeral’s Andie MacDowell.

It follows investment banker Wyatt Burwall (Porte) who heads back to his family’s Colorado ranch for Christmas, with the aim of talking to his mother Deb (MacDowell) and convincing her to sell the ranch. But, in the classic romance trope, he falls in love with a young, hot ranch hand (Di Pace) who adores the ranch, and dreams of turning it into a giant Winter Wonderland attraction to bring the Christmas spirit into Colorado, and the Burwall family. It’s a warm, heartfelt love story, perfect for that post-turkey lull.

Dashing in December is available now on Amazon Prime.

Let It Snow

Based on Let It Snow: Three Holiday Romances, a hit novel by John Green (who wrote The Fault in Our Stars and Paper Towns), Let It Snow is the perfect family festive flick. It follows the classic trope of the ensemble holiday film, like Love, Actually or New Year’s Eve. The cast includes A Million Little Things’ Anna Akana, Santa Clarita Diet star and non-binary icon Liv Hewson, Mad Men’s Kiernan Shipka, and Working Girl’s Joan Cusack.

As you may have guessed from the title, the movie follows three holiday romances, one of which is joyously queer. Dorrie (Akana) is an employee at Waffle Town, trying to juggle her best friend’s boyfriend troubles and a cheerleader (Hewson) she hooked up with and is now pretending not to know her. It’s your classic young adult drama, and while it’s technically only a third queer, it’s worth it for the wholesome gay story between these two.

Let it Snow is available now on Netflix.

Holiday Heart

For a movie that came out in 2000, Holiday Heart is surprisingly inclusive. It was produced by Hollywood giant Robert De Niro, and stars Mission: Impossible’s Ving Rhames, Luke Cage’s Alfre Woodard, and Forrest Gump’s Mykelti Williamson. Based on the Cheryl L. West play of the same name, it was nominated for a Golden Globe and was generally praised as ahead of its time in LGBTQ+ inclusion and racial diversity.

The movie follows gay African-American drag queen Holiday Heart (Rhames) who befriends single mother Wanda (Woodard) after his boyfriend dies. Holiday invites Wanda, who is addicted to drugs and down on her luck, and her daughter to move in with him, so he can provide them a stable home. But with the criminal dealings going on around them, it’s harder than he initially thinks. It’s definitely raw and dark for a holiday movie, but it’s well worth it.

Holiday Heart is available now on Apple TV and Amazon Prime.

More Ways to Cozy Up This Holiday Season

Of course, this list is by no means exhaustive. There’s more and more amazing LGBTQ+ content out there, all you need to do is find it! If movies aren’t your thing, or you’re short on time, don’t forget about holiday specials. Here’s just a couple to get you started.

RuPaul’s Drag Race has dabbled in festive specials, but without a doubt, the most iconic is in the third season (episode 2) which – spoiler alert – sees the gift of Shangela returned to the show.

Lesbian favorite Orange Is the New Black has a holiday episode in its first season (episode 13), with a Christmas pageant in the prison. 

Iconic drag drama Pose’s first season also has a holiday episode (episode 3) which sees Blanca give Damon some tough love.

The Levys comedy Schitt’s Creek embraces holiday cheer in season four (episode 13) reminiscing about the Christmas Parties of their old life, and rekindling the condition in their new home.

Supernatural horror Wynonna Earp gets festive in its third season (episode 6) as Wynonna searches for a missing child on Christmas Day with a new friend.

If you don’t celebrate Christmas, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina has a winter solstice episode in its first season (episode 11), which sees the witch organize a séance which results in a huge fallout.

The Golden Girls’ second season features a holiday episode (episode 11) that finds the ladies’ Christmas plans scuppered by an armed robbery – and Blanche lusting after the robber in a Santa costume.

Lady Gaga & The Muppets Holiday Spectacular may feel like a fever dream, but it’s very, very real. She has never done a Christmas album (or even single) but she did recruit RuPaul, Elton John, and Kristen Bell to do a holiday Muppets special.

Glee has several great Christmas episodes, but our favorites are in season two (episode 10) when Sue dresses up as the Grinch to steal presents and in season four (episode 10) when Brittany begins to fear the Mayan apocalypse.

Learn More with HER

Are you looking for a partner, community, or chosen family to curl up in front of a queer holiday movie? The holidays can be hard for anyone, but particularly for LGBTQ+ people. Having a community of queer people around you to support you and understand you is vital for any LGBTQ+ person. HER is a safe space to connect with people like you, who share your identity, your background, or your hobbies. 

Whether you’re looking for a holiday hook-up, a partner for cuffing season, or a group of friends to watch the New Year’s Eve fireworks with, you can find it on HER.

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Robyn Exton

Robyn is the CEO & Founder of HER. Find her on Twitter.

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