Christmas is gay and you can’t convince us otherwise. The straights have tried their best to sanitize the holigay season beyond all recognition, but it’s no use. Christmas movies are inherently camp. The lights, the fashion, the drama? Are you kidding me? A lot of this is down to the “so-bad-it’s-good” trope that Christmas movies often fall into. Admittedly, that includes some movies on this very list. A lot of LGBTQ+ movies fall into the same trap, and we love them regardless. LGBTQ+ holiday movies just take things to the next level.
What Are The Best LGBTQ+ Holiday Movies?
Maybe we’re exaggerating just a bit. In reality, Christmas can be very difficult for LGBTQ+ folks. Some of us have strained relationships with our families if we have any relationship at all. We’re not all the dazzling aunts, uncles, and piblings who sweep in with impeccably wrapped gifts once a year. Sometimes we have to rely on our chosen family to celebrate the holidays. Whether your holidays are as camp as the movies or not, one thing is certain. LGBTQ+ holiday movies offer an escape for just a moment and allow us to imagine a holiday season without fear of rejection. Perhaps there will even be a happy ending.
Keep reading for a list of LGBTQ+ holiday movies that range from so-bad-they’re-good to critically acclaimed queer holiday staples. Let’s take this from oldest to newest.
1. Some of My Best Friends Are… (1971)
We would be remiss if we didn’t mention this post-Stonewall time capsule. The film is set on Christmas Eve in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village, 1971. The regulars of the local gay bar “The Blue Jay” are celebrating. This film truly is a product of its time, in more ways than one. “Not much has changed since Stonewall,” reads the synopsis. “But the times are a-changin’.” Sadly this one isn’t on any streaming service we could find but we’ll do you one better. The entire film is available on YouTube.
With a Rotten Tomatoes audience rating of 83%, Some of My Best Friends Are… is certainly worth watching, even in 480p.
2. Female Trouble (1974)
Although it’s not filled with that familiar holiday cheer, if you’re a baby queer, the Christmas at the Davenport’s scene is basically a rite of passage. Female Trouble is a 1974 American dark comedy filmed, edited, written, produced, and directed by John Waters. The film stars legendary actor, singer, and drag queen, Divine. The film follows a delinquent high school student who runs away from home, gets pregnant, and becomes entangled in a criminal scheme. This is one every gay should add to their list if they haven’t already—and make it a yearly ritual. Fair warning: it’s not for the faint of heart.
3. The Other Sister (1999)
Many of the films from decades ago are kind of a product of their time and The Other Sister is no exception. It’s basically impossible to watch neurotypical actors portray people with disabilities without cringing. You may remember this movie from the recesses of your brain, but I’ll bet you forgot about the other other sister. The gay daughter that Diane Keaton’s character refused to accept. You may be wondering why we’re including this movie that has one gay character, and one Christmas scene. The answer is Sarah Paulson, who plays the gay daughter. The answer is always Sarah Paulson.
4. Holiday Heart (2000)
Ving Rhames is Holiday Heart, a drag queen that takes in a mom and her daughter that have fallen on hard times. Ving finds himself a father figure in this child’s life as her mother battles with drug addiction. Given the subject, it’s not exactly the heartwarming holiday film you may be expecting. Still, despite how brutally honest this film gets, it really has a lot of heart (pardon the pun).
5. Visions of Sugarplums (2001)
So…this film is bad. Sadly, I cannot sugarcoat Sugarplums. But, as you may have noticed, LGBTQ+ holiday movies pre-2015 were few and far between. Any that exist are worth watching in part because they survived. It’s important we watch these movies understanding the context in which they were created. Once you do that, Visions of Sugarplums starts to make sense. The plot follows Joey, who must choose between his lover of nine months and his ultra-religious parents on Christmas Eve. It’s a plot we’ve seen before, but perhaps not as far back as 2001.
6. 8 Women (2002)
This French, dark comedy musical is yet another iconic and unmissable film on our list. It’s a murder mystery set in the French countryside during winter in the 1950s. A family is gathered there to celebrate the holiday season until the patriarch of the house is murdered. One of the eight women closest to him is guilty. The question is, who did it? On the surface, you may not suspect that this film is very gay at all. The truth is this film gets gayer and gayer as it goes on.
7. Too Cool for Christmas (2004)
We promised you cliché Christmas movies and gosh darn it, we will deliver. Even if you’re not the type to turn your brain off for cotton candy Hallmark movies, keep reading. This movie is one of a few movies made in this era that has a (nearly) complete carbon copy. Too Cool For Christmas and A Very Cool Christmas are almost identical, except one features a gay couple, and the other features a straight couple. Directed by Sam Irvin, the films themselves are unremarkable and…well, bad! Perhaps unsurprisingly, A Very Cool Christmas (the straight one) went on the play on Hallmark. The other ran exclusively on the LGBTQ streaming service Here TV. It’s interesting to watch these side by side to see how they play out as bizarre artifacts of a more homophobic time.
A Very Cool Christmas (the straight one) has an audience rating of 46% on Rotten Tomatoes. It seems Too Cool for Christmas was too obscure for a rating. The straight one is available to stream on Tubi, and the gay one is currently available to stream on HereTV.
8. The Family Stone (2005)
We’re back to Christmas classics with a vengeance. Emphasis on vengeance. This film features big names like Sarah Jessica Parker, Diane Keaton, Clair Danes, Luke Wilson, and Rachel McAdams. It also features a gay couple, which as you can tell was rare at the time. Many people who watch this film a lot will tell you that they have a love-hate relationship with it. The film follows Everett Stone and his partner Meredith (SJP) who decide to spend the holidays with Everett’s family. Meredith, who is meeting them for the first time, is the anxious, uptight type. This is in stark contrast to Everett’s family, portrayed as more relaxed and…liberal? It’s unclear, and frankly, his family is pretty awful to Meredith.
Despite this, it’s hard not to get pulled into the storyline which takes a few bizarre turns before ending on a pretty heartwarming note. We could talk about this movie for hours, especially the dinner scene, but you’ll just have to watch it for yourself.
9. Everybody’s Fine (2009)
This equally heartbreaking and heartwarming film features Robert De Niro, Kate Beckinsale, and none other than bisexual icon Drew Barrymore. The plot is simple enough. When all of his kids cancel on him for the holidays, De Niro decides to take matters into his own hands. He embarks on a journey to visit each of his kids and in the process finds out who they truly are. We don’t want to give away too much but take our word for it there is just enough queerness, and just enough holiday cheer to make this list. It’s sincere and tender in its approach and worth the watch if you haven’t seen it yet.
10. Make the Yuletide Gay (2009)
If you’ve seen 2020s Happiest Season then you’ll be intimately familiar with this plot. Gunn is a college student who is not yet out to his parents. He heads back home for the holidays when his “roommate” Nathan unexpectedly shows up. I’m sure you can fill in the rest here, so we won’t spoil any more on you. The film is perhaps a tad amateurish, but if you liked Happiest Season you might like this. Perhaps it’s worth reaching back into the archives to watch the one that told the story first.
11. Red Lodge (2013)
This story documents a proposal gone wrong, all in the lead-up to the holidays. Also known as The Unattainably Perfect Gay Christmas, the film follows Jordan and Dave. They form a bond over insulting some poor guy over text and they live happily ever after. Well…not quite. When Jordan decides to drop the question, Dave drags his feet a bit. We follow the couple as they contemplate their relationship over the holidays. The story sets itself apart from the typical narrative we’ve come to expect from LGBTQ+ holiday movies, although the cinematography leaves a bit to be desired.
12. Carol (2015)
Back to iconic queer cinema, how could we not include Carol on this list? Set in the 1950s, Carol follows Therese Belivet (Rooney Mara) and Carol (Cate Blanchett) in New York City. Their relationship develops into a forbidden affair that leads to complicated consequences. Named one of the greatest films of the 21st Century by the BBC, this film is as aesthetically pleasing as the story is compelling. Whatever you do, don’t miss this one.
13. Love the Coopers (2015)
The stacked cast in this 2015 holiday feature might lead you to believe you’re in for a solid film. Not even Diane Keaton, John Goodman, Marisa Tomei, Olivia Wilde, or Ed Helms could save this holiday comedy-drama. There is one saving grace in the form of a poignant coming-out scene from Agente Williams (Anthony Mackie). If you love these cast members and would like to see the coming-out scene, you may still get something out of this one.
14. Tangerine (2015)
We’re back on track again with one of the most noteworthy LGBTQ+ films of all time, let alone LGBTQ+ holiday movies. Though it’s not exactly the winter wonderland you might expect from a holiday movie, it has more spirit than most. The film follows trans friends Alexandra and Sin-Dee after the latter just finished a 28-day jail sentence. We soon learn that Sin-Dee’s boyfriend has been cheating on her, and both she and Alexandra go to confront him. The film was shot using three iPhone 5S smartphones—making it as innovative as it is entertaining. We won’t spoil any more, just please check this one out. You won’t regret it.
15. Shared Rooms (2016)
This film isn’t breaking any record or shattering any ceilings, but it’s still a fun watch during the holiday season. The film follows the stories of three gay storylines: A married couple taking in a teenage relative, roommates having to share a bed, and two men looking for a quick hookup. Sure the films can be a bit awkward and messy at times, but it can certainly be argued this film achieves what it set out to do.
16. Anna and the Apocalypse (2017)
This holiday list needs more musicals. While we’re at it, let’s add a zombie apocalypse into the mix. It takes a lot of talent to turn a movie that is at once a Christmas musical and a zombie apocalypse movie, but they pull it off beautifully. There is also a queer character in a supporting (but central to the plot) role. It could be more explicitly queer, but we think you’ll enjoy this just as well.
17. City of Trees (2019)
If you’re looking for more explicitly queer storylines, City of Trees is a good place to start. This indie film follows Ainsley as she returns home for the holidays. There she finds Sophie, the popular cheerleader she had feelings for in high school. This enemies-to-lovers storyline is an instant classic. What this film lacks in technical prowess, it more than makes up for it in sincerity and heart.
18. Let It Snow (2019)
If you’re in the market for a YA LGBTQ+ holiday film, we’ve got you covered. This earnest film is based on the young adult novel of the same name by authors Maureen Johnson, John Green, and Lauren Myracle. The film follows a group of teens in a small midwest town after a snowstorm. As you might expect, love is in the frostbitten air. Although some might find the format a bit predictable and sappy, sometimes that’s exactly what you want this time of year. Even better, the movie also features a queer romance between Dorrie (Liv Hewson) and Kerry (Anna Akana).
19. Season of Love (2019)
Are you the kind of person that watched Love Actually every single holiday season? Well, you’re in luck because Season of Love has been referred to as the lesbian version of that Christmas classic. The story follows three different couples—one long-term couple, one new couple, and one couple-to-be. As you might expect, the stories are intertwined and get tied up neatly like a bow.
20. Twinkle all the Way (2019)
Okay, so this may take some explaining. Basically, this film is straight—and bad. But, we’re about to turn a corner on the chronological list. This 2019 film was the first Lifetime Christmas movie to feature a same-sex kiss. It took them a long time to embrace LGBTQ+ storylines. From here on out our LGBTQ+ holiday movie list features a strong showing from Hallmark and Lifetime. For better, or for worse. Consider this one a small piece of LGBTQ+ Lifetime history.
21. Ghosting: The Spirit of Christmas (2019)
Granted this is another film where the gay storyline is a subplot, but this movie is too bizarre not to add. The film follows Jess who “ghosts” Ben after their first date when she dies in a car crash on the way home. Kara (Kimiko Glenn) attempts to settle her unfinished business, and things get complicated. Fans of Orange is the New Black will remember Glenn’s role as Soso in the show. Give this one a watch for a silly holiday romp.
22. Friendsgiving (2020)
We debated adding this one because it’s not quite as funny as we had hoped. In the end, we think some of the performances, including Kat Dennings, make it worthwhile. Despite being low on laugh-out-loud moments, this is a good-natured film that will leave you smiling. Perhaps it’s the rambunctious crew of friends with whom you make the most of the season that makes this one feel very close to home.
23. The Christmas Lottery (2020)
After their parents win the lottery, the Davenport sisters—Diedre, Tammy, and Nicole—reunite at the family home. Diedre is still feeling burned that her sisters skipped out on the wedding to her wife Belinda. To make matters worse, the ticket goes missing and the family has to band together for the winnings. This is the kind of family-driven film that makes holiday movies special, and the supporting cast is impossible not to like.
24. The Christmas Setup (2020)
This Lifetime movie made quite the impression when it came out in 2020. An explicitly queer main plotline and Fran Drescher as the mom? We were immediately intrigued. The film follows Hugo as he returns home for the holidays. His mom takes this as an opportunity to meddle (lovingly) in his romantic life. This amounts to a sweet story and a strong showing for LGBTQ+ storytelling on Lifetime.
25. Dashing In December (2020)
Continuing the trend for gay movies that made waves in 2020, Dashing in December delivers plenty of heart. Although it made headlines for the dashing male leads, there’s more to this story than aesthetics. Packed full of holiday charm, complete with horseback rides, dancing cowboys, and knit sweaters. It may not be winning any awards, but since when is that a holiday prerequisite? If you’re sitting down with a gay bestie and a mug of hot cocoa, this is the one for you.
26. Happiest Season (2020)
Remember item 10 on this list, Make The Yuletide Gay? Happiest Season took this story and dusted it off for the holidays. This one also made headlines with performances from Kristen Stewart, Mackenzie Davis, Aubrey Plaza, Dan Levy, and Alison Brie. This one truly has everything you’re looking for. The drama, the lesbian romance, the gay BFF, the holiday vibes. You simply can’t go wrong with this instant hit from lesbian director Clea DuVall.
27. Dash & Lily (2020)
Okay, so this is technically a TV show—but with only one season we can pretend it’s just an extended movie. The film follows two New York teenagers as they trade messages and dares through a red notebook. The holiday setting in New York is sure to trigger that Christmastime nostalgia and the critics loved it too. It’s not particularly deep, but there’s nothing wrong with empty calories around the holidays. Lily’s brother Langston is gay, by the way, just in case you were looking for the queer angle. We’ve got you covered.
28. I Hate New Year’s (2020)
What better way to mark the end of the holiday season than with an angsty story of unrequited lesbian love? In the throes of writer’s block, rising music star Layne (Dia Frampton) heads home to Nashville in the hopes of bumping into her ex and rekindling their love (and her creativity). Meanwhile, her BFF Cassie (Ashley Argota) finds herself developing feelings for Layne. If you’ve already stacked your pre-Christmas day watchlist, why not save this one for New Year?
29. The Jinkx & Dela Holiday Special (2020)
It may not be a movie, but I couldn’t resist adding The Jinkx & Dela Holiday Special. In the end, this is a list of queer ways to celebrate the holidays and it doesn’t get gayer than this. In this side-splitting special, nothing is sacred. Not even Christmas. In the same vein as the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, this should become your queer holiday tradition.
30. A New York Christmas Wedding (2020)
We like to think of this as the bisexual person’s answer to A Christmas Carol. We’re not sure why you’d need anything more than that but just in case, here’s the plot. As her Christmas Eve wedding to David gets closer and closer, an angel gives Jennifer a glimpse at another life. One where she didn’t deny her feelings for her childhood friend, Gabby. This isn’t exactly high-concept filmmaking, but it’s a wild and fun plot that is sure to keep you hooked.
31. The Christmas House (2020)
Jonathan Bennett and Brad Harder play husbands Brandon and Jake, spending the holidays with Brandon’s parents. The couple is anxiously awaiting a call about the adoption of their first child. Unfortunately, their storyline isn’t the main plotline, but they steal the scene every time. Despite being unmistakably Hallmark, it’s super charming. Is it any wonder there was a sequel?
32. The Christmas House 2: Deck Those Halls (2021)
Yep, they brought back Jonathan Bennett and Brad Harder and we are not complaining. The plot gets a little wild, with Mike and Brandon facing off to see who can decorate the best Christmas House on reality TV. Yes, it’s silly and more holiday cotton candy, but don’t we all develop a sweet tooth this time of year?
33. With Love (2021)
Coming at you with a second TV show, because LGBTQ+ holiday movies are, in truth, not all that common. Plus, this show is so good—we simply had to include it. The show follows the Diaz siblings, Lily and Jorge, who are on a mission to find love and purpose. You may recognize Jorge (played by Mark Indelicato) as Justin Suarez from Ugly Betty which is a piece of queer history at this point. Please, please, please do yourself a favor and check this out. The series has even been renewed for a second season!
34. Single All The Way (2021)
Speaking of Ugly Betty, remember Mark? Michael Urie played everyone’s favorite personal assistant in the iconic series. In Single All The Way, Urie plays Peter, a social media strategist living in Los Angeles. Peter convinces his best friend Nick (Philemon Chambers) to pretend to be his boyfriend when he goes home for Christmas. The hilarious antics continue from there, with stand-out roles from Kathy Najimy and Jennifer Coolidge. Queer moviegoers may also spot Luke MacFarlane from Bros. This movie is a Christmas romance done well.
35. Every Time a Bell Rings (2021)
What would you say to a Christmas scavenger hunt? That’s the story of this cute little film about three estranged sisters coming home to Mississippi to fulfill their dad’s dying wish. His wish is that the sisters work together to find a family heirloom, and in the process grow closer. Queer actress Ali Liebert plays Nora, the lesbian sister who spends some of the runtime flirting. Despite the zany plot, this film is surprisingly believable and may tug at one or two of your heartstrings.
36. You Make It Feel Like Christmas (2021)
We’re deep into Lifetime and Hallmark territory now, with another lovably cliché holiday flick. This one centers on Emma, who lands a big work opportunity and has to stay in the city rather than go home for the holidays. This is especially hard on her Dad, who recently lost his wife. Emma’s ex Aaron decides to take matters into his own hands and convince Emma to come home. There is also a queer subplot here between Emma’s BFF and Aaron’s cousin. You know, for the gays.
37. Christmas is Cancelled (2021)
So…this one is admittedly bizarre. It almost feels like it was made a decade ago and somehow got stuck in the time-space continuum for 10 years. The main plot follows Emma, her dad Jack, and her high-school nemesis Brandy. After Emma’s mom dies, Jack starts dating Brandy. Honestly, this movie might be titled Are The Straights Okay? if it weren’t for Emma’s queer BFF. Thankfully Charlyne (played by non-binary actor Emilie Modaff) is there to help Emma (and us) through this bizarre series of events.
38. Silent Night (2021)
We have one more apocalyptic Christmas movie to add to your list. What seems like a lovely Christmas dinner in an idyllic family home, is actually the last hurrah before humanity’s final breath. Keira Knightley plays Nell, hostess of the party to end all parties. Lucy Punch and Kirby Howell-Baptiste are a lesbian couple that adds a dash of queer to this dark comedy. If all of the commercialized holiday cheer was starting to get to you, perhaps should start at the end of the world.
39. Under the Christmas Tree (2021)
Oh Christmas tree, oh Christmas tree, how lovely are your lesbians. No, I did not misspeak, I’m referring to Under the Christmas Tree by Lifetime. This adorable film follows Alma who crosses paths with Charlie after a tree in her backyard has been selected for the annual tree lighting ceremony in the state’s capital. What can we say? It’s another heartwarming rom-com that was made to do one thing; to bring queer joy to your holiday season.
40. The Syed Family Xmas Eve Game Night (2021)
Taking a break from the Lifetime/Hallmark side of things, here’s an indie film that has people talking. This wonderful little film follows Noor, a queer Muslim woman who brings her Puerto Rican partner Luz (Vico Ortiz) home to a family gathering for the first time. We’ll stop right there—with a runtime of 11 minutes we don’t want to risk spoiling anymore. Just know that this film was named to TIFF’s annual year-end Canada’s Top Ten list for 2021. Check it out if it comes to a festival in your area.
The Syed Family Xmas Eve Game Night has an IMDb rating of 7.3 out of 10 stars. It is currently on the film festival circuit and unable to show publicly but check out their screenings page to head to a showing near you.
41. A Jenkins Family Christmas (2021)
BET+ is getting in on the queer holiday fun too with A Jenkins Family Christmas. Family secrets and a boatload of drama loom over the Jenkins household after the death of the family patriarch. While the sisters attempt to hold the family traditions together, a surprise arrival throws the celebration into turmoil. Their gay brother Kenny (Anthony Chatmon II) also brings his boyfriend Logan home for the holidays which doesn’t go over well initially. This film subverts your expectations while still delivering some of that familiar Christmas nostalgia.
42. The Bitch Who Stole Christmas (2021)
This list needs one more option featuring drag queens. Described as the “draggiest Christmas movie ever made,” The Bitch Who Stole Christmas follows Olivia a workaholic big-city fashion journalist. She heads to a small Christmas-obsessed town at the behest of her boss (RuPaul). What she finds there is a gang of cut-throat housewives, a high-stakes competition, and a sinister plot to destroy Christmas. As you can imagine, the camp dial is turned up to maximum so strap in and enjoy the ride.
43. Christmas at the Ranch (2021)
What is it about Christmas movies and country living? If you liked the idea of Dashing in December but hoped for something more sapphic, look no further. This film follows Haley who returns home around the holidays to save the family ranch. At the same time, she finds herself spending a lot of time with the ranch hand, Kate. Although they start off on the wrong foot, Haley and Kate soon find themselves falling for one another. This super wholesome film isn’t particularly groundbreaking but it is sure to put a smile on your face.
44. Zoey’s Extraordinary Christmas (2021)
This lovely film picks up where the Emmy-nominated series Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist left off. Together with her gay BFF Mo (Alex Newell), Zoey hopes to make the first Christmas without her dad Mitch a meaningful one. Filled with singing and dancing, this one has “holiday favorite” written all over it.
45. Christmas on the Farm (2021)
It’s not often we find a Christmas movie set in the height of the Australian summer, yet here we are. The film follows Emmy, a New York socialite who desperately wants to get published. She is so desperate, she fakes her identity and passes off her mom’s journals as her own. When the publishers tell her they love it, Emmy is forced to head back to Australia to act the part of her deceased mom. To make matters worse, she pulls her cousin David (Hugh Sheridan) and his husband Miles (Nicholas Brown) into the scheme. This one is a wild ride and well worth the watch.
46. An Unexpected Christmas (2021)
We’ve got one more Hallmark movie for you for good measure. Although you may be surprised at just how earnest and genuinely witty this one is. The film follows Emily, a rising star at a marketing firm who lands an opportunity that could be huge for her career. The only problem is that project will take her to her ex Jamie’s hometown. So far so straight, but trust us, there is surprise lesbianism in this movie. Becca (Alison Wandzura), Jamie’s lesbian sister, contributes quite a bit of the aforementioned wit to this film. If you ask us, she steals the show!
47. The Humans (2021)
We’re finishing off with another critically acclaimed move to round off this list with something a little different. The Humans tells the story of a family gathered together in a run-down apartment in lower Manhattan. Adapted from the Tony Award-winning play of the same name, the film is equal parts funny and haunting. There is something frighteningly true sitting at the core of this film, which may be too much for your average holiday movie. The film features Beanie Feldstein and Steven Yeun as the hosts and Amy Schumer as the sister with a chronic illness who recently lost her job and long-term girlfriend. If you’re looking for something that will stay with you long after it ends, this is the film for you.
What Is the Best LGBTQ+ Holiday Movie of All Time?
So…what is the best LGBTQ+ Christmas movie of all time? Naturally, that depends on who’s watching and what they want out of LGBTQ+ holiday movies. If you follow our list by ratings alone, you might think of The Jinkx & Dela Holiday Special. Then again it’s not exactly fair to pit movies up against a holiday special featuring beloved drag queens. If you narrow it down to critically acclaimed movies you might say The Humans, Carol, or Tangerine. Perhaps you love the classics like The Family Stone or iconic queer cinema like Female Trouble and 8 Women. How about TV shows like With Love and Dash & Lily? Or maybe you just want a feel-good LGBTQ+ holiday movie like Happiest Season, Dashing in December, or The Christmas Setup.
Whatever you love, there’s something for everyone in our master list of LGBTQ+ holiday movies. Come back here next year as we continue to update this list. Queer films are the gift that keeps on giving every year.