Lesbian Christmas movies: the final frontier. In a Christmas Movie landscape dominated by heterosexual workaholic girl-bosses returning to their hometowns in power suits and falling for heterosexual males who do artisan/manual labor, for many years nary a lesbian or bisexual woman, let alone a non-binary person, dared to make an appearance. It’s usually been hard to find any LGBTQ+ Christmas movies at all, but in recent years gay men have been emerging out of the corners into the Christmas spotlight in droves and also, occasionally, a wee lesbian, queer or trans woman or a non-binary person has earned a few minutes under the mistletoe. In 2020, Clea Duvall’s Happiest Season starring Kristen Stewart broke records for Hulu and Netflix’s A New York Christmas Wedding delivered a Black queer love story that was regarded as both “howlingly bad” and “a must-watch.” In 2021, we apparently went mainstream enough to warrant a few moments in the Lifetime and Hallmark spotlight. What’s next in the world of Lesbian Christmas Movies??! Hopefully the lesbian Christmas movie I am writing with my girlfriend! One can only hope, dream and ask Santa for tips!
This list is in chronological order and includes films with LGBTQ+ women and/or non-binary characters, even minor queer characters because yes we are that desperate. It does not include short films that are under 30 minutes, but there are three films that hover in that space between “short” and “feature length.”
The Christmas Clapback
dir. Robin Givens, 2022 // BET+ tv movie
It’s the Miles sisters’ first Christmas without their mother, which means they’ve gotta win their town’s annual Christmas Church Cook-Off in her honor — but when social media influencer Aaliyah (Kara Royster) moves in next door, she poses a formidable challenge to the Miles’ crown. She also develops a romantic spark with Tisha (Porscha Coleman), a single mother of a college-age son who’s been out of the dating game for a minute, and their story is actually really cute! The Christmas Clapback is streaming on BET+ or through your cable provider.
Merry & Gay
dir. Christin Baker, 2022 // web-release
Becca Winters (Dia Frampton) has just finished her starring run in a popular Broadway musical and is heading home for the holidays, where her meddling mother TIlly (Hayat Nesheiwat) and her best friend Lucille (Janet Ivy) are planning more than just Christmas dinner: they wanna reignite the high school romance between Lucille’s non-binary kid Sam (Andi René Christensen) and Becca. Sam is bartending at their family’s bar, Sheridan’s, and is initially wary of the girl who hurt them three years ago. But it doesn’t take much to warm her right back up! Merry & Gay is streaming on Diva Box TV.
Something From Tiffany’s
dir. Daryl Wein, 2022 // prime video tv movie
This Christmas rom-com starring queer actress Shay Mitchell and the beloved Zoey Deutch asks the age-old question, “what if two men were at Tiffany’s at the same time and their packages got mixed up and the wrong man went home with an engagement ring?” Most importantly for our purposes here, Zoey Deutch’s Rachel owns a bakery with her best friend, Terri, a lesbian played by Twenties‘ Jojo T. Gibbs. We also are gifted with a few brief glimpses into Terri’s marriage with Sophia (Batwoman‘s Javica Leslie) and well, honestly, the movie is pretty okay! Something from Tiffany’s is streaming on Prime Video.
Looking for Her
Dir. Alexandra Swarens, 2022 // tv movie
Taylor’s taken a lot of space from her family so she’s quite surprised when they insist she come home for Christmas and bring her girlfriend, Jess — but Taylor can’t muster up the courage to tell them that she and Jess broke up. Instead, she hires an out-of-work actor to pose as her girlfriend and join her for an extended improv exercise with her family. Sort of like The Proposal but low-budget and gay and the family has a much smaller house. Looking for Her is streaming on Tubi.
Under the Christmas Tree
dir. Lisa Rose Snow, 2021 // lifetime tv movie
Under the Christmas Tree is famously Lifetime’s first-ever lesbian Christmas movie! Elise Bauman is marketing whiz Alma Beltran, who crosses paths with a Christmas Tree Salesperson (?) Charlie while on the hunt for the prefect tree for the Maine Governor’s Holiday Celebration right in Alma’s backyard. What begins with sparring leads to sparking and romance with the help of Ricki Lake, the town’s pâtissière extraordinaire, who is an inspirational figure to all. Under the Christmas Tree is streaming on Hulu.
Picture Perfect Holiday
dir. J.E. Logan, 2021 // lifetime tv movie
Fashion photographer Gaby Jones (Tatyana Ali)’s shot at her dream magazine job is in doubt when her editor suggests she’s not ready for the position — but she could mayhaps improve her chances by attending a Christmas Photography Retreat in a Cute Christmasy Town in the Forest. A little snafu at the cabin reservation desk leads her to have an unexpected hot photographer roommate. This is all very cute and well and good but the unexpected situation of interest to us here is that her lesbian photographer friend from NYU, Dani (played by Paula Andrea Placido of The L Word: Generation Q and Hacks), is also at the retreat with her partner, Amelia (Rivkah Reyes), and both lesbians are trying to plan the perfect proposal. While they’re not the central focus of the film, Dani and Amelia get a surprisingly significant amount of screentime! Picture Perfect Holiday is streaming on Lifetime.
Christmas is Cancelled
dir. Prarthana Mohan, 2021 // prime video tv movie
Emma (Hayley Orrantia) and her Dad (Dermot Mulroney) have lots of beloved Christmas traditions that improve their holiday disposition despite the absence of her mother. But this year she’s in for a nasty surprise: her Dad is dating her high school nemesis, Mona from Pretty Little Liars! Luckily she has a queer BFF, Charlyne (played by non-binary actor Emilie Modaff) to help ease the pain of this terrifying blow. Christmas is Cancelled is streaming on Prime Video.
An Unexpected Christmas
dir. Michael Robinson, 2021 // hallmark tv movie
Jamie brings his pal Emily home for the holidays to pretend like they are legitimately dating which is fine or whatever, what’s more important is that Jamies’ sister, Becca (Alison Wandzura), is a divorced lesbian and single Mom, thus putting the “lesbian” into this Christmas movie. “She’s able to halt Jamie’s incessant whining with her wry verbal smackdowns!” writes Heather Hogan. “She’s got her own subplot and is more than just a sounding board for the main characters! And she has one scene with Jamie that actually made me laugh out loud for real!” An Unexpected Christmas is streaming on Hallmark.
Christmas at the Ranch
dir. Christin Baker, 2021 // web-release
Heather writes that Christmas at the Ranch is a “horse girl holigay rom-com that feels like fan fiction in the way all the best Hallmark Christmas movies do.” In this actual lesbian Christmas movie, workaholic Haley (Laur Allen) goes home for Christmas, finds out her Meemaw is in debt and also meets the new horse-hand, Kate (Amanda Righetti). Between Haley’s money smarts and Kate’s horsey skills, perhaps this ranch can be saved and also lesbian love. Christmas at the Ranch is streaming on Tubi.
You Make It Feel Like Christmas
dir. Lisa France, 2021 // lifetime tv movie
Emma (Mary Antonini) and her BFF Liz (Nadine Pinette) own an “artisanal Christmas ornament store” and when a big-time design guru (???!) falls for Emma’s art, she’s gotta cancel her trip home for Christmas. This is a big bummer for her Dad ’cause Mom died literally last year and he is sad and lonely. Emma’s ex, Aaron, is home from Army visiting with Emma’s Dad and when he finds out Emma’s not coming home, he grabs his cousin Sarah (Solange Sookram) and heads into the city to bring her back! This is relevant to you because aforementioned Liz has a thrilling romantic spark with recently mentioned Sarah, who of course runs a soup kitchen. You Make it Feel Like Christmas is streaming on Lifetime.
Every Time a Bell Rings
dir. Maclain Nelson, 2021 // hallmark tv movie
Three estranged sisters come together in their Mississippi hometown to see their Mom and fulfill their father’s dying wish: a Christmas scavenger hunt to find a prized family heirloom. AND IN THE PROCESS THEY ALSO FIND EACH OTHER. Queer actress Ali Liebert plays the lesbian sister, who is making a website for her family woodshop following the closure of her own business in Boston. She meets a girl and they flirt throughout the film, which honestly is terrible but YMMV! Every Time a Bell Rings is streaming on Hallmark.
dir. Camille Griffin, 2021
This “ambitious but muddled mix of Christmas comedy and apocalyptic drama” centers on a family in a posh English country estate who’ve gathered for the hoilday as a giant toxic cloud sweeps across our wretched neglected planet with the intent of killing everybody! Amongst these humans are Bella (Lucy Punch) and her girlfriend Alex (Kirby Howell-Baptiste). Queer actress Lily-Rose Depp is also featured as the much younger girlfriend of a doctor who is friends with the family. Silent Night is streaming on AMC+
The Magical Christmas Tree
dir. Scott Hillman, 2021
Picture this: you’re a park ranger and a young person in a suit arrives in your parking lot carrying an axe. You approach them. What is your first question? If you said “what are your pronouns?” you’d be correct!!! This is one of many magical moments in low-budget indie flick The Magical Christmas Tree. (The second question is “I’m wondering what you’re doing with that axe,” obviously.) Pace is an accountant in Los Angeles with a mean boss who is visited off-screen by the ghosts of Christmas past and decides to throw a holiday celebration after all, thus requiring Pace to drive into the mountains to find the perfect tee. As their journey progresses, they find a non-binary elf named Buddy and romance ensues! The Magical Christmas Tree is streaming on Tubi.
O Night Divine (2021)
dir. Luca Guadagnino // web-release
This tight, atmospheric and precise Christmas indie (it’s about an hour long) from Call Me By Your Name’s Luca Guadagnino stars John C. Reilly as a Santa Claus-ish character resting for a night at a fancy ski resort where a few interconnecting stories are at play. One of them involves the hotel’s overseer, Babette (Hailey Gates) and her apparently tortured romance with her ex-girlfriend, Julia (Francesca Figus), who works at a hotel boutique. O Night Divine is streaming on Zara’s YouTube channel.
The Happiest Season
dir. Clea Duvall, 2020
The pitch for this film seemed fantastical from the outset — Kristen Stewart was starring in a lesbian Christmas rom-com made by Clea Duvall? REALLY?!?! Indeed, at the end of a year full of broken dreams (2020), Hulu brought Happiest Season to us all in December. Stewart plays Abby, who gives in to the Christmas spirit she usually resists by heading home to spend the holidays with her girlfriend Harper (Mackenzie Davis), who informs her en route that she’s not exactly out to her family. The winning cast includes Dan Levy as Abby’s best friend, Aubrey Plaza as Harper’s ex-girlfriend and Alison Brie as Harper’s uptight sister. The Happiest Season is streaming on Hulu.
A New York Christmas Wedding
dir. Otoja Abit, 2020 // netflix tv movie
This wacky trip of a lesbian Christmas movie sees Jenny (Nia Fairweather), nervous about her engagement to her fiancé, David, when a guardian angel Azraael (Cooper Koch) shows up to give her a vision into the future she could’ve lived but did not — in which she ended up with her childhood best friend, Gabrielle (Adriana DeMeo). “Instead of some far-off Snow White Christmas Village, it’s an queer Afro-Latina looking for love in a very not whitewashed New York,” wrote Carmen in her review. A New York Christmas Wedding is streaming on Netflix.
Christmas With the Darlings
dir. Catherine Cyran, 2020 // hallmark tv movie
Jessica (Katrina Law), finds herself in co-charge of orchestrating a perfect New England Christmas for the recently orphaned nieces and nephew of her CEO, who’s away on business and otherwise would be shipping the kiddos back to boarding school. Her help in this mission is Max, the kids’ other uncle, who is not very paternal. Most important to all of us here today is that Jessica’s BFF, Zoe (Morgana Wyllie), is a lesbian, and she has herself a little romantic subplot with a HOT BARISTA. Christmas With the Darlings is streaming on Hallmark.
The Christmas Lottery
dir. Tamika Miller, 2020 // BET tv movie
“After being estranged for nearly three years, the Davenport sisters — Diedre (Asia’h Epperson), Tammy (Candiace Dillard) and Nicole (Brave Williams) — reunite at the family home, just in time for Christmas. But it’s not the holiday spirit that brings everyone home, it’s the promise of collecting a share of their parents’ lottery winnings…which they can only get if they repair the relationships between them. That’s easier said than done, though: Diedre carries some serious emotional scars over having sacrificed so much for sisters when they couldn’t even be bothered to attend her wedding to her wife, Belinda. But all the work on repairing their relationships might be for naught when the winning lottery ticket turns up missing.” — Natalie. The Christmas Lottery is streaming on BET.
dir. Paul Feig, 2019
The lesbian character in Last Christmas is so incredibly minor that if you only half-watched this movie, you could miss her entirely! Directed by Paul Feig (The Office, Bridesmaids), Last Christmas is the story of aspiring singer Kate Andrich (Emilia Clarke), who works at a year-round Christmas store owned by “Santa” (Michelle Yeoh) in London and feels suffocated by her depressed mother, Petra (Emma Thompson), who dotes on her but ignores her sister, Marta (Lydia Leonard), a very successful lawyer who is gay but fears coming out to her parents. Kate meets a hottie named Tom (Henry Golding) and their romance is central to this movie that is brimming with talented actors and yet none of them can transcend the absolutely absurd plot! Also there are cameos from Patti LuPone and Sue Perkins? Last Christmas is available for rent on RedBox.
Ghosting: The Spirit of Christmas
dir. Theresa Bennett, 2019 // freeform tv movie
This genuinely adorable Freeform Christmas flick stars Aisha Dee as Jess, who unfortunately dies right after a great first date with Ben (Kendrick Sampson), but then finds herself still hanging out as a ghost! This is great news for her lesbian best friend, Kara (Kimiko Glen) and for Ben — at least at first. It’s a weird little plot that somehow works, but what works best for me personally is the romance between Kara and Ben’s sister, Mae (Jazz Raycole). Plus I mean, it’s Aisha Dee and Kimiko Glen! A treat! Ghosting: The Spirit of Christmas is streaming on Freeform.
Season of Love
dir. Christin Baker, 2019 // web-release
Another entry in the “intersecting stories” Christmas film genre but this time it’s “intersecting LESBIAN stories.” There’s Sue (Dominique Provost-Chalkley), a musician and Janey (Janelle Marie), her formerly-long distance girlfriend. Kenna (a deaf character played by a deaf actress, Sandra Mae Frank!), who is opening a brewery and Lou (Jessica Clark), a welder she hired for the project. And finally, Iris (Emily Goss) and Mardou (Laur Allen) — Iris is set to marry Mardou’s brother, but he leaves her alone at the altar. “The movie has everything you could want from a cheesy holiday movie,” wrote Valerie in her “Season of Love” review. “Mistletoe mishaps, zero-stakes drama, happily ever afters.” You can rent Season of Love on Tello.
Let it Snow
dir. Luke Snellin, 2019 // netflix tv movie
This decent rom-com promises less wholesome activity than your typical Christmas film, weaving together stories from an intersecting group of teenagers in Laurel, Illinois on a very snowy Christmas Eve. One of these little stories involves Dorrie (played by non-binary actor Liv Hewson of “Yellowjackets”), a lesbian who works at Waffle Town and is having a secret affair with a cheerleader. So you know, come for the lesbian, stay for Joan Cusack driving a truck wrapped in tin foil. Let it Snow is streaming on Netflix.
City of Trees
dir. Alexandra Swarens, 2019
Ainsley (Alexandra Swarens), a somewhat aimless twentysomething, returns from Los Angeles to her small hometown for the holidays and finds herself facing some unexpected lingering trauma in this lesbian Christmas movie. Sophie (Olivia Buckle), a popular cheerleader from Ainsley’s high school, has changed since Ainsley last saw her and is even friends with Ainsley’s Mom — but it’s hard for Ainsley to see past the girls they once were. As Sophie and Ainsley keep being in the same place at the same time, a romance begins to spark! City of Trees is streaming on YouTube.
Anna and the Apocalypse
dir. John McPhail, 2017
What says “the spirit of Christmas” more than a zombie apocalypse movie musical?? Nothing, that’s what. And that’s exactly what Anna and the Apocalypse is. Starring queer Dickinson actress Ella Hunt, and featuring a prominent lesbian character Steph played by queer actor Sarah Swire, the movie is a bloody romp. While sometimes the big picture metaphor gets a little muddy, it boils down to encouraging you to live in the moment and appreciate what you have because you never know when a deadly pandemic will break out and separate you from the people you love the most. The music is a delight, and Ella Hunt is phenomenally talented, and the movie is campy and fun and may or may not make you cry just a little. Tis the season for watching teens bash zombies over the head with giant candy canes! — Valerie Anne. Anna and the Apocalypse is streaming on Tubi.
We Need a Little Christmas
dir. Noble Julz and Onyx Keesha, 2017 // web-release
This very low-budget holiday flick (at times it’s hard to hear the dialogue) follows a group of Atlanta-based queer friends who share a cabin for Christmas: Smith and her wife Chris, their children, her best friends Lindsay and Brighton, and her new coworker, Angel. There’s also a lot of Christianity in this film. We Need a Little Christmas is notable for being focused entirely on a group of Black lesbians, which is a rare treat! You can rent We Need a Little Christmas on LesFlicks.
dir. Todd Haynes, 2015
Have you heard about the movie Carol, it’s about this woman Carol? Played by Cate Blanchett? I believe she has an affectionate “affair” with Therese, who has a stupid boyfriend and wants to be a photographer. Waterloo is involved. So is Sarah Paulson. We have written no less than 63 posts about this film right here on this website!
dir. Sean Baker, 2015
This is not a lesbian Christmas movie, but it is a Christmas-adjacent movie about two trans women sex workers of color and this queer list felt incomplete without making note of it. Sin-Dee (Kitana Kiki Rodriguez) and Alexandra (Mya Taylor) get out of jail and right back into their chaotic Los Angeles existence on Christmas Eve. Alexandra’s prepping for an upcoming performance and Sin-Dee is prepping to cause a bit of drama regarding her boyfriend, Chester, cheating on her. Naming it the #2 best Christmas movie of all time, Vulture writes that in a list primarily occupied by “prosperous white families,” Tangerine serves as “a corrective to that tradition: “It’s a film as vital, alive, and in touch with the holiday as more traditional entries — an invitation to other filmmakers to redefine what a Christmas movie can be, and as much a story about the importance of human kindness as the one that tops the list.”
dir. Kirk Jones, 2009
When Frank Goode’s children all cancel their plans to come home for Christmas, Frank hits the road on his own, planning to visit each of his kids, which will of course entail finding out WHO THEY TRULY ARE. For example Rosie (Drew Barrymore), who picks him up in a limo takes him to her fancy alleged apartment where he meets her “friend” Jill (Kate Moennig)— but it’s all a show! Because also, she’s bisexual! The Christmas element of this film is pretty light, as is the queerness, but it has its moments and it’s always fun to see queer actresses playing queer roles.
dir. Chris Columbus, 2005
While not strictly a Christmas movie, the beloved film adaptation of the Broadway musical does open and close on Christmas Eve in a very deliberate way, and it’s chock-full of LGBTQ stories and characters. Set in the Lower East Side in the late ’80s amid the growing HIV/AIDS crisis, lesbian couple Maureen (Idina Menzel) and Joanne (Traci Thoms) and their legendary “Take Me or Leave Me” made this film a notable root for theater kids all over the world. How could a night so frozen be so scalding hot? There’s only one way to find out and that way is “watching this movie” and maybe also listening to the original Broadway cast recording! Rent is streaming on HBO Max.
dir. François Ozon, 2002
This French dark comedy musical centers a family of eccentric women and their employees after their family patriarch is found dead in the isolated cottage where they’ve chosen to spend a very snowy Christmas. One by one each woman finds her situation under scrutiny. “This movie feels gay and then it gets explicitly gay and then it gets explicitly gayer,” writes Drew Gregory. “By the end it’s unclear if anyone is straight!”
dir. John Waters, 1974
While technically not a lesbian movie or a Christmas movie, this John Waters masterpiece demands inclusion due to its iconic Christmas scene and iconic lesbian characters. Of course, the Christmas scene is Divine’s tantrum about not receiving cha cha heels. And the lesbianism is found most prominently in Edith Massey’s Aunt Ida. “The world of the heterosexual is sick and boring,” she says and truer words have never been committed to screen. Christmas movies are traditionally wholesome so if you’re looking for some queer counterprogramming, look no further than the Pope of Trash himself — trash that’s now available on the prestigious Criterion Collection. — Drew Gregory
There is a lovely queer surprise in Lifetime’s “A Picture Perfect Holiday”.
I wish 8 Women were streaming. I currently only have a VHS copy.
When I first rented it I did so for Catherine Denouvre. I had no clue it was queer, Netflix made no note that it was a musical. Add in the almost painfully bright colors…the whole experience was beautiful manic and shockingly delightful
My wife and I just mentioned the other day we should watch 8 Femmes again because it’s been a hot decade since we last did. And now I feel old. Lol.
Lol. Sméagol is my cats name. Arwen is her brother. 8 Femmes is so great. Love your screen name. Had to respond just for that. 😆
There’s so many gems here that I need to see (or rewatch). I will NEVER get over the Gabison/Gabby’s Son thing in NYCW though lol.
I also wanna add Tokyo Godfathers, especially the new English dub which has Shakina Nayfack as Hana.
Tokyo Godfathers is such an underrated movie!
Thank you for this list! I’m hopeful that in the future there will be more stories about queer fat folks, queer disabled folks, and trans love stories. Cheers to progress!
You’ll see a familiar face from “2 In the Bush” in “Christmas is Cancelled” – the always amazing Caito Aase makes an appearance (though seems to be uncredited thus far)!
This list is what I needed. Cannot wait to sit down with some hot chocolate and Amarula, a fuzzy blanket, and as many of these movies as possible.
Call me back
my best friend has started this thing where we’re gonna watch new lesbian movies because shes mad i didnt get the representation i needed growing up/etc. and under the Christmas tree comes out on my birthday and we’re gonna facetime while we watch and thank you elise bauman for my birthday present :)
love this list!
After having watched “Under the Christmas Tree,” I cannot WAIT for your review on it/ the forklift thing scene?!?! Y’ALL
I really enjoyed Something from Tiffany’s – as cheesy Xmas romcoms go it was great!
I take there wasn’t any trans or queer women Chanukkah movies?
my personal sapphic christmas canon includes Hustlers and Mean Girls, so i look forward to adding some actual christmas ones lol!
I’d like to put +1 A New York Christmas Wedding. Listen, the budget may have been a potato and two paper clips, but it has So much heart!!! You can really tell everyone involved put in so much love into that movie! It’s delightful
Recommend “Bell Book and Candle” (1958). A hetero romance film but with just heaps and heaps of gay subtext – witchcraft as a clear analogue for queerness. Also a great cat.
Thank you for mentioning City Of Trees. I thought it was great. I love indie films and love to support indie filmmakers (especially women), so I actually bought this movie on Amazon about a month ago. Well first I rented it and I watched it three times during my rental period. Figured why not buy it? So I did. Cheaper than a movie ticket.
Just watched Looking for Her last night and it was honestly very charming!! I was pleasantly surprised.