The LGBTQ community is finally getting its chance to shine this holiday season, thanks to several new, inclusive films, series and specials coming out between November and December.
In 2020, both the Hallmark Channel and Lifetime announced their first-ever gay-led, Holiday-themed rom-coms, The Christmas House and The Christmas Setup, joining an increasingly diverse mix of original movies produced each year. In addition to those channels, streaming platforms like HBO Max, Hulu and Netflix are also embracing the holidays with a dash of queer content, from a holiday makeover series in the spirit of Queer Eye and a reality dating competition that sees one of the men hoping to fill his sleigh with love before Christmas Day.
While recently co-hosting ET, Jonathan Bennett explained why a movie like The Christmas House is so important. “It feels like I’m a part of progress and it feels so good,” he said. “Representation is so important, right? And to represent this storyline on Hallmark Channel, it’s an honor.”
The former Mean Girls star is one of several openly gay and lesbian performers headlining these projects, bringing authenticity to the stories unfolding onscreen. In addition to Bennett, Happiest Season stars Kristen Stewart and Dan Levy, Dash & Lily features Troy Iwata, Dashing in December is led by Peter Porte and Fuller House’s Juan Pablo Di Pace while The Christmas Setup stars married actors Ben Lewis and Blake Lee.
Although the couple admits to being nervous about translating their real-life relationship into a romance onscreen, Lewis and Lee were pleased with not only the experience of playing Lifetime’s first gay couple but also seeing so much queer representation behind the scenes as well. The same goes for Happiest Season, which was co-written and directed by Clea DuVall, who is now a long way from starring in the cult, lesbian classic But I’m a Cheerleader.
For the actress-turned-director, it was important to bring this story to life. Growing up as a gay kid she never saw herself represented in holiday movies, despite being such a fan of the ever-growing canon of Christmas classics. “I kind of thought to myself, ‘Why don’t I just make one of those movies then?’” DuVall says, adding, “This is such a personal story and I really wanted people to understand what it meant and the significance of it.”
And while these films do not represent the whole LGBTQ community, both Lewis and Lee hope these movies open the doors for more holiday-themed projects starring transgender people and queer people of color. “Everyone deserves representation. Christmas is for everyone.” Lewis says, with Lee adding, “Love is love.”
With that said, check out the slate of LGBTQ-themed holiday films, series and specials to watch this year:
Dash & Lily
Premieres: Tuesday, Nov. 10
Starring: Austin Abrams, Midori Francis, Dante Brown, Troy Iwata, Keana Marie, James Saito, Jodi Long, Glenn McCuen, Michael Park, Gideon Emery, Jennifer Ikeda, Diego Guevara
Plot: A whirlwind Holiday romance builds as cynical Dash (Abrams) and optimistic Lily (Francis) trade dares, dreams, and desires in the notebook they pass back and forth at locations all across New York City, finding they have more in common with each other than they would have expected. The series is based on the young adult book series Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares from the New York Times best-selling authors Rachel Cohn and David Levithan.
(Watch on Netflix)
Holiday Home Makeover With Mr. Christmas
Premieres: Wednesday, Nov. 18
Starring: Benjamin Bradley aka Mr. Christmas
Plot: A veteran in the interior design industry with a healthy obsession with the holiday season, Bradley takes you behind the scenes as he puts his design expertise and vast Christmas collection to good use. Equipped with lights, garlands, and enough tinsel to blanket the North Pole, he and his team of elves work around the clock to bring holiday cheer to families and communities deserving of a home makeover for the most joyous time of year. Mr. Christmas invites viewers along for the ride to kick off the holiday season and get inspired to take their own home decorating and traditions to the next level.
(Watch on Netflix)
The Christmas House
Premieres: Sunday, Nov. 22 at 8 p.m. ET/PT
Starring: Robert Buckley, Jonathan Bennett, Ana Ayora, Treat Williams, Sharon Lawrence and Brad Harder
Plot: Working through some difficult decisions, Mitchell family matriarch Phylis (Lawrence) and patriarch Bill (Williams), have summoned their two grown sons — TV star Mike Mitchell (Buckley) and Brandon Mitchell (Bennett) — home for the holidays. It is their 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. As Brandon and his husband, Jake (Harder), make the trip home, they are anxiously awaiting a call about the adoption of their first child. Meanwhile, Mike reconnects with Andi (Ayora), his high school sweetheart.
(Watch on the Hallmark Channel)
Premieres: Wednesday, Nov. 25
Starring: Kristen Stewart, Mackenzie Davis, Alison Brie, Aubrey Plaza, Daniel Levy, Mary Holland, Burl Moseley, Victor Garber and Mary Steenburgen
Plot: Meeting your girlfriend’s family for the first time can be tough. Planning to propose at her family’s annual Christmas dinner — until you realize that they don’t even know she’s gay — is even harder. When Abby (Stewart) learns that Harper (Davis) has kept their relationship a secret from her family, she begins to question the girlfriend she thought she knew.
(Watch on Hulu)
12 Dates of Christmas
Premieres: Thursday, Nov. 26
Starring: Natasha Rothwell (who narrates)
Plot: The reality competition follows three hopelessly romantic singles Faith, Chad and Garrett on their journey to meet that special someone to bring home for the holidays. The romance begins at a fairy-tale castle in Austria where 10 magical wintery dates await — from ugly sweater parties and an intriguing masquerade ball to après-ski activities, these dates are sure to send temperatures soaring. As in all great rom-coms, our romantic leads’ paths to love won’t be easy. Just as they make connections, new love interests arrive, adding plenty of twists, turns — and hopefully — holiday cheer. Along the way, they’ll face regular elimination ceremonies, complicated blasts from the past and no shortage of conflicting emotions. After bringing someone home for the holidays, they must decide whether to commit or walk away forever by the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve.
(Watch on HBO Max)
The Christmas Setup
Premieres: Saturday, Dec. 12 at 8 p.m. ET/PT
Starring: Ben Lewis, Blake Lee, Fran Drescher, Ellen Wong and Chad Connell
Plot: New York lawyer Hugo (Lewis) heads to Milwaukee with his best friend, Madelyn (Wong), to spend the holidays with his brother, Aiden (Connell), and his mom, Kate (Drescher), who is also in charge of the local Christmas celebrations. Ever the matchmaker, Kate arranges for Hugo to run into Patrick (Lee), Hugo’s high school friend and secret crush, who has recently returned after a successful stint in Silicon Valley. As they enjoy the local holiday festivities together, Hugo and Patrick’s attraction to each other is undeniable and it looks as though Kate’s Santa-style matchmaking is a success. But as Hugo receives word of a big promotion requiring a move to London, he must decide what is most important to him.
(Watch on Lifetime)
Dashing in December
Premieres: Sunday, Dec. 13 at 7 p.m. ET/PT
Starring: Juan Pablo Di Pace, Peter Porte, Andie MacDowell, Caroline Harris and Carlos Sanz
Plot: The MTV production follows Wyatt (Porte), a sophisticated, New York City financier who returns home for the holidays in an effort to convince his mother, Deb (MacDowell) to sell the family’s ranch and beloved magical Winter Wonderland attraction. In the midst of his mission, an unexpected romance ignites with the new ranch hand Heath (Di Pace), reawakening the spirit of Christmas.
(Watch on Paramount)
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