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Christmas movies are going gay this year, but is this really progress for LGBT people?

Michael McCaffrey
Michael McCaffrey

Michael McCaffrey is a writer and cultural critic who lives in Los Angeles. His work can be read at RT, Counterpunch and at his website mpmacting.com/blog. He is also the host of the popular cinema podcast Looking California and Feeling Minnesota. Follow him on Twitter @MPMActingCo

Michael McCaffrey is a writer and cultural critic who lives in Los Angeles. His work can be read at RT, Counterpunch and at his website mpmacting.com/blog. He is also the host of the popular cinema podcast Looking California and Feeling Minnesota. Follow him on Twitter @MPMActingCo

Christmas movies are going gay this year, but is this really progress for LGBT people?
The Hallmark and Lifetime channels are targeting their Christmas movies at gay audiences this year. Activists have hailed this as a victory, but there will be little to celebrate in terms of quality filmmaking.

Don we now our gay apparel” takes on a whole new meaning this year as The Hallmark Channel airs The Christmas House, its first gay-themed Christmas movie. 

The film stars Jonathan Bennett as one half of a gay married couple who visit family as they anxiously await a call about adopting their first child.

According to PinkNews, “LGBT+ fans have long been crying out for a queer festive film – and this year, they have finally been granted their grown-up Christmas wish”. 

PinkNews also reported that, “In July, queer Hallmark Christmas fans were sent into a frenzy when the company confirmed the LGBT+ Christmas films were on the way.”

The ‘queer frenzy’ over The Christmas House is heightened by the fact that the Lifetime Channel also has a gay-themed holiday film this year, The Christmas Set-Up. Looks like there will be a lot of same sex canoodling under the mistletoe on TV this holiday season. 

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To be honest, I’m confused as to why having a gay Christmas movie is such a big deal. According to GLAAD (Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation), a whopping 10.2 percent of characters on TV shows identified as LGBT+ in 2019. According to Gallup, LGBT+ people make up just 4.5 percent of the general population, which means the LGBT+ community representation on TV is more than twice as large as it is in reality. 

Americans are so inundated by gay characters in entertainment that it wildly distorts their perception, resulting in a consistent over-estimation of the size of the gay population in surveys. Gallup polls show Americans on average believe LGBT+ people make up nearly 25 percent of the population, which is nearly five times their actual population percentage. 

The same polls show that women over-estimate the size of the LGBT+ community the most, believing that nearly one in three people are gay. Since women are the target audience of Hallmark and Lifetime’s Christmas movie crap-a-thon, one can assume that this is only the beginning in expanding gay representation on those networks come holiday season. 

The Christmas House and The Christmas Set-Up seem less like another battle in the manufactured War on Christmas than just another LGBT+ victory parade. 

Of course, the quaint notion of Christmas being a celebration of the birth of Christ was long ago lost thanks to capitalism’s red clad enforcer Santa Claus and his relentless elves of commercialism and consumerism. So, what difference could a few more whacks on the dead religious Christmas horse from a rainbow-striped candy cane truly make?

As far as gay rights and acceptance goes, I am all for it, but I’m not sure it’s a sign of progress that the LGBT+ community now gets to have really dreadful and cheesy Hallmark holiday films marketed towards them. 

It reminds me of the comedian – sadly, I can’t remember which one – who said after gay marriage became legal that ‘gay people can now enjoy the misery of marriage just like the rest of us’. 

The Christmas House premieres on November 22, the 57th anniversary of the assassination of JFK, which is ironic because if he were still alive today, his mind would be blown, not – if you believe the preposterous official story - by a bullet from Lee Harvey Oswald’s Mannlicher-Carcano rifle, but by the idea that a gay Christmas movie could ever be shown on a banal network like the Hallmark Channel. 

Someone from JFK’s generation would find the speed with which homosexuality and gay rights have been accepted by mainstream American culture over the last thirty years to be utterly astounding. 

As with all issues revolving around representation though, nothing is ever good enough. No doubt soon we’ll hear cries of outrage over a lack of black, Latinx, Asian and Indigenous lesbian, transgender and gay Christmas movies. 

I’m sure the gay-friendly geniuses at Hallmark are already fast at work creating their own lame lavender adaptation of Dickens’ holiday classic A Christmas Carol to appease the diversity gods and the LGBT+ market.

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It won’t take much effort to ‘queer up’ old Ebenezer Scrooge since he had a uniquely intimate relationship with his supposed ‘business’ partner Jacob Marley, who, like a wife, haunted him even after death. 

As for this year’s holiday fare, A Christmas House, there is no doubt that a cornucopia of sentimental divorcees, old ladies and camp-adoring gay people with decidedly bad taste are already gearing up in eager philistine anticipation of the movie’s premiere by hoarding boxes of wine and macarons just for the festive occasion. 

But as a devout cinephile tired of projects choosing forced diversity over artistry, I say bah-humbug… this holiday season there will be no donning of gay apparel or indulging in the Hallmark channel for me.

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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

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