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, nary a lesbian or bisexual woman dared to make an appearance. It was hard to find any LGBTQ Christmas movies at all, and the few that did exist usually featured gay men. But finally our queer time under the mistletoe has come! Last year, Clea Duvall’s Happiest Season starring Kristen Stewart broke records for Hulu and A New York Christmas Wedding delivered a Black queer love story that was regarded as both “howlingly bad” and “a must-watch.” This year, we’ve apparently gone mainstream enough to warrant a few moments in the Lifetime and Hallmark spotlight. What’s next in the world of Lesbian Christmas Movies??! One can only hope, dream and ask Santa for tips!
Under the Christmas Tree (2021) — December 19 on Lifetime
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 as I understand it will be inspirational in some fashion.
Christmas is Cancelled (2021) — December 17 on Amazon / In Theaters
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.
An Unexpected Christmas (2021) — Hallmark
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, 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!”
Christmas at the Ranch (2021) — Tello
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,” Workaholic Haley goes home for Christmas, finds out her Meemaw is in debt and also meets the new horse-hand, Kate. Between Haley’s money smarts and Kate’s horsey skills, perhaps this ranch can be saved and also lesbian love!
You Make It Feel Like Christmas (2021) — Lifetime
Emma and her BFF Liz 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 Sara 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 Sara, who of course runs a soup kitchen.
Every Time a Bell Rings (2021) — Hallmark
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!
Silent Night (2021) — On Demand
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.
Happiest Season (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.
New York Christmas Wedding (2020) — Netflix
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.
Christmas With the Darlings (2020) — Hallmark
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.
The Christmas Lottery (2020) — BET
After being estranged for nearly three years, the Davenport sisters — Diedre, Tammy and Nicole — 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
Ghosting: The Spirit of Christmas (2019) — Freeform / Hulu
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!
Season of Love (2019) — Tello
Another entry in the “intersecting stories” Christmas film genre but this time it’s “intersecting LESBIAN stories.” There’s Sue, a musician and Janey, her formerly-long distance girlfriend. Kenna (a deaf character played by a deaf actress!), who is opening a brewery and Lou, a welder she hired for the project. And finally, Iris and Mardou — 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.”
Let it Snow (2019) — Netflix
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.
City of Trees (2019) — YouTube
Ainsley, 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, 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!
Anna and the Apocalypse (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
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!
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 and Alexandra 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.”
Everybody’s Fine (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.
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 and Joanne 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!
8 Women (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!”
Female Trouble (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