With the 2016 holiday season arriving, the time has come again for gatherings of family and friends, epic feasts, gift exchanges and the occasional sing along. Holiday movies have also become essential to the end of year celebration, and contrary to popular belief, a number of them have LGBTQ themes.
We here at Queerty took the liberty of assembling a list of ten of the most noteworthy.
So, have a look at 10 Holiday Movies that Promise a Gay Old Time…
1. Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer
The perennial holiday favorite comes as standard viewing on most Christmas special lists, and one catering to LGBT interests is no different! Rudolph has aired for more than 50 years, becoming the most watched Christmas special in history, and shows no signs of going out of fashion. In that sense, it offers nostalgia to most of the Christmas-celebrating American population, who can recall the memories of watching the show and anticipating the joys of the holiday season.
For an LGBT audience though, Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer has a special interest. One of the recurring themes in the story is that of alienation—Rudolph gets bullied by the other reindeer for being different, while Hermie the Elf lost his job in Santa’s workshop for having different interests. Rudolph, Hermie, bearish prospector Yukon Cornelius and the yeti-like Bumble form a community with the ghettoized residents of the Island of Misfit Toys. Their positive actions not only end up saving Christmas, but also teach the other North Pole residents the value of celebrating diversity.
2. Meet Me in St. Louis
Not a Christmas movie per se, the Christmas segment of the season-themed Meet Me in St. Louis manages to upstage all the others, thanks to the misty-eyed ballad “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.” The song became an immediate classic upon debuting in 1944, and Meet Me in St. Louis remains a holiday viewing favorite. It helps, of course, to have gay icon Judy Garland in the lead, and delivering one of her best performances. That she gets to sing “Have Yourself…” is almost an added bonus. Queer director (and father of Liza) Vincente Minnelli spearheaded the production, which teems with Hollywood Golden Age charm and lushness. A film starring an LGBTQ icon and helmed by a queer director has an automatic place in gay history. That Meet Me in St. Louis is one of the great musical movies makes it essential holiday viewing too.
3. Home for the Holidays
Out-ish lesbian actress/director Jodie Foster directed this dramedy film set at Thanksgiving, though the antics of the lovably dysfunctional family might as well take place at Christmas. Home for the Holidays chronicles the relationships of the Larsen family, with particular attention paid to disgruntled sister Claudia (played by Holly Hunter) and quirky gay brother Tommy (an irrepressible, if drug-addled Robert Downey, Jr.). Like any holiday movie, the family bickers, whispers secrets, has meltdowns and reconciles, finding the hope for the future that every holiday celebration represents. Besides Downey and Hunter, a stellar cast which includes Anne Bancroft, Charles Durning, Geraldine Chaplin and Claire Danes make Home for the Holidays an entertaining, if predictable, romp.
4. The Family Stone
Much like Home for the Holidays, The Family Stone uses the bickering family, screwball comedy premise to warm hearts and provide a good share of laughs. With an appealing cast that features Diane Keaton, Rachel McAdams, Craig T. Nelson, Luke Wilson, Claire Danes (again) and Sarah Jessica Parker, the story revolves around the Stone family, as uptight brother Everett (Dermot Mulroney) brings his fiancé Meredeth (Parker) home to meet the family. Hilarity and heartwarming ensue in predictable fashion, though the movie does feature a groundbreaking and fascinating subplot involving deaf, gay brother Thad and his partner Patrick trying to adopt a child. No doubt, in an age of marriage equality, plenty of LGBTQs will have similar experiences with their crazy families this holiday season.
5. Make the Yuletide Gay
Going home for the holidays can hold its perils, particularly for our brethren still in the closet to their families. Make the Yuletide Gay takes that premise, and turns it into a heartwarming romantic comedy. College student Olaf has come out at school and even nabbed a boyfriend for himself, but his family back home doesn’t know. As he celebrates the holidays, Olaf tries to maintain a “straight” identity, even after his boyfriend Nathan shows up at the house! Make the Yuletide Gay falls into the same traps as a good deal of rom-coms, with broad characters and some corny jokes. Still, that it centers on an LGBT couple makes it refreshing holiday fun.
6. Too Cool for Christmas
Soap opera staples George Hamilton and Donna Mills star in this Here! TV produced movie about a spoiled teen who would rather spend Christmas skiing than with her family. Of course, she learns the True Meaning of Christmas over the course of the film’s runtime in predictable fashion. What makes the film interesting is that the 16-year-old heroine is the daughter of two gay dads. Lifetime runs a censored version of the movie, which subs the gay parents for reshot scenes with straight parents. Avoid that version (dubbed A Very Cool Christmas) at all costs.
7. Star Wars Holiday Special
Otherwise known as the weirdest Christmas special of all time, The Star Wars Holiday Special has never had a commercial release, though it shows up frequently on sites like YouTube. Broadcast once in 1978, the special features the cast of Star Wars (yes, including Harrison Ford, gay icon Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill) trying to help Chewbacca get home to his Wookie family in time for “Life Day,” the Star Wars analog of Christmas, in a musical adventure. The camp factor alone makes the Holiday Special worth watching at least once, as do the celebrity cameos, including appearances by gay icons Diahann Carroll as a pornographic hologram (yes, really), Bea Arthur as a cantina bartender, and Harvey Korman as an alien chef. George Lucas has reportedly said he wants to destroy every copy of the special. That the statement comes from the man who created JarJar makes The Star Wars Holiday Special something that needs to be seen to be believed!
8. Diva’s Christmas Carol
Anything with the word “diva” in the title should get a rise out of a good chunk of the LGBT population. That the movie also stars Vanessa Williams, Kathy Griffin and Chili (of the band TLC) should also grab A Diva’s Christmas Carol some attention. The telefilm debuted in 2000 on Vh1, and reimagines A Christmas Carol as a modern day tale about a vein pop singer. Griffin gets in some good laughs as the Ghost of Christmas Past, while Williams lends her own vocals to some holiday standards making A Diva’s Christmas Carol a fun take on the popular tale.
9. White Christmas
It has Bing Crosby. It has Rosemary Clooney. It has possibly gay actor Danny Kaye. And it’s a musical. What’s not for the LGBTQ audience to love about White Christmas? Indeed, the movie—long a holiday standard, and a great example of Technicolor musical moviemaking to boot—has become a holiday classic the world over, and with good reason. It’s just a damn good movie.
It helps, of course, that White Christmas centers on a pair of musical composers trying to mount a new show. It also helps to have gay icon and bisexual star Clooney in the female lead, and Bing Crosby never looked better in a movie. Kaye and Crosby also perform a hysterical drag number—just one of the highlights of, quite possibly, the best holiday movie ever.
10. Mrs. Santa Claus
Leave it to Angela Lansbury to make an almost laughably dated premise into an endlessly entertaining romp. It also helps that she collaborates again with composer Jerry Herman, the openly gay musician behind Mame and Hello, Dolly! A made for TV movie, Mrs. Santa Claus finds the title character, as played by Lansbury, feeling under appreciated by her workaholic husband, Santa (played by the great Charles Durning). Thus, she sets out on a sleigh ride, but gets stranded in New York. There she helps start the feminist movement and end child labor. Seriously!
Mrs. Santa Claus becomes more than a standard musical telefilm, subtly confronting issues like bigotry, sexism, interfaith marriage and overzealous capitalism. It gets away with it all thanks to the frothy touch of Herman’s music, and an irresistible performance by Lansbury. Originally airing in 1996, Mrs. Santa Claus speaks to an LGBT audience with a wink and a nudge, and should have become an immediate holiday classic.