Why Queer Women Rule Christmas Movies

I’ll bite – in recent years, my enjoyment of ‘classic’ Christmas films has started to dwindle.

The magic of Muppets Christmas Carol, Elf and Home Alone is becoming too sweet for my tastes.

It probably makes me sound like an indie wanker, but I’m finding that more unusual Christmas choices make me feel more festive.

To be honest, one of my favourite Christmas films is so-bad-it’s-good The Princess Switch. (Top tip: two Vanessa Hudgens’ is the perfect hangover cure).

However, some of my new favourites probably aren’t ‘Christmas’ films at all. They’re either set at Christmas, or just have a wintry, festive feel to them.

Notably, a pattern has emerged in these films: most of them are queer af. What’s more, all of them feature queer women.

Below are some gay-as-hell Christmas films to enjoy before the big day:

1. Happiest Season

As many critics have noted, lesbian cinema has a problem: most high profile releases are period dramas featuring white, cisgendered women.

Recent examples include Portrait of a Lady on Fire, Ammonite and The Favourite.

Annie Lord, writing in the New Statesman, argues that this trend feels “retroactively progressive.” By looking to the past, we can see how far we’ve come and pat ourselves on the back – all without confronting homophobia in the present day.

Happiest Season, then, feels like a tonic. It’s a Christmas film that beautifully captures a contemporary lesbian romance.

The film follows Abby and Harper, played by Kristen Stewart and Mackenzie Davis, as they visit Harper’s family for the holidays. But there’s a catch: Harper isn’t out yet.

Director Clea DuVall explores the emotional complexities of coming out to your parents. At the same time, it’s a festive delight without ever feeling saccharine.

Kristen Stewart, as always, is phenomenal. This stellar cast, with Aubrey Plaza thrown in for good measure, make a potentially cringeworthy setup ooze with emotional intelligence.

There’s nothing hugely groundbreaking here, but it’s a refreshing take on a conventional Christmas romance.

2. Hustlers

“Doesn’t money make your horny?” is probably my favourite opening line for a character, ever.

Enter Jennifer Lopez as Ramona – a sex-worker at the helm of a group of strip club employees who con their Wall Street clients.

This isn’t a Christmas movie in the traditional sense. But if the straights can claim Die Hard as a holiday classic, then Hustlers deserves to be up there too.

The camaraderie between this queer-inclusive troop of women is infectious – festive, even. One Christmas scene in particular comes to mind, but the message of friendship that runs throughout feels perfect for this time of year.

3. Tangerine

If this list is anything to go by, sex workers make great Christmas movies.

Tangerine sees Sin-Dee bulldoze her way through LA on Christmas Eve in search of her pimp boyfriend. It’s not one to show the kids, exactly…

This 18+ rated comedy drama was shot on an iPhone and stars real life transgender sex workers Kitana Kiki Rodriguez and Mya Taylor.

The pair have amazing chemistry and a fierce sense of humour. Despite the LA sunshine and precarious working conditions the film depicts, Sean Baker somehow captures their lives with a Christmassy sense of empathy and affection.

It’s a bit rough around the edges, but that’s half of the charm. Sin-Dee and Alexandra’s friendship is one of the ages.

4. Carol

This is the most bougie film on the list, for sure.

It’s a Palme d’Or nominated drama with middle-class darling Cate Blanchett.

Carol is adapted from a novel by Patricia Highsmith – the writer behind queer classics like The Talented Mr Ripley.

As always, Todd Haynes captures the 1950s setting beautifully. Everything is immaculately put together and elegantly controlled – much like the suffocating environment that forces Carol and Therese to conceal their love.

It’s even more powerful, then, when their desire bubbles over to the surface. Fleeting glances turn into ravishing passion, before being hidden away once again.

Carol doesn’t follow the usual beats of a Christmas romance. Only five years after its release, it already feels like a Christmas classic.

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