TheBacklot’s Guide to Gay Holiday Entertainment

It’s that time of year again when the forces of nostalgia, SADs and a preponderance of sparkly holiday-themed entertainments converge to wreak havoc on our heartstrings. We’re here to help you cut through the tinsel and identify the holiday songs, books, shows, and movies that go homo for the holidays. Consider it our gift to you! (Sorry, no returns.)

The [title of show] Show Christmas Show

This holiday installation of the always-amusing Broadway satire webseries is pure genius, up to and including the moment where jazz-handed beefcake Cheyenne Jackson calls the hosts “Christmas dicks.”

Paul Lynde’s ’Twas the Night Before Christmas

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This 1977 ABC Christmas special oddly put beloved hissyfitter Paul Lynde in the straight man role as the harried father of a well-to-do household in the 1800s who live out the events of the celebrated Christmas poem. Not even the fact that Anne Meara (as his wife), Anson Williams from Happy Days (as a caroler), Alice Ghostley (as Lynde’s mother-in-law) and Martha Raye (as his mother) appear – alongside a cat who obeys stage direction, no less – can eclipse the reindeershit weirdness of this holiday programming experiment gone wrong. Someone gave me a bootleg of this on DVD once. They clearly hated me.

Home for the Holidays (1995)

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Jodie Foster directed this indie dramedy about a hot mess (Holly Hunter, squarely in her wheelhouse) who returns home for Thanksgiving with her quirky family, which includes her gay brother (Robert Downey Jr.) and neurotic sister (the criminally underappreciated Cynthia Stevenson, who delivers a career-best diatribe about the delusions of sisterhood while mounting an exercise machine). Anne Bancroft joins to ensure that the scenery is chewed as much as the Thanksgiving turkey, and Dylan McDermott brings the sweet potato pie as Downey’s mysterious new man-candy. The Sundance-ready formula is a winner, but it’s the solid message of acceptance that’ll get you in the end.

The Santaland Diaries

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Gay author David Sedaris’ hilarious, vaguely unsettling memoir about his sting working as an elf at the NYC Macy’s is required reading – or even better, listening, as read by the author himself (the elf). The riotous essay has also been adapted into a one-man stage play (above, beloved Buffy alum Nicholas Brendon performs the show at LA’s Blank Theatre a few years back) that pops up across the country this time of year. Bonus: Sedaris’s Holidays on Ice collection also includes the perfectly-titled seasonal gem “Dinah, the Christmas Whore.”

The Los Angeles Gay Men’s Chorus Perform “Chanukah in Santa Monica”

Good luck getting that out of your head! (You’re welcome.)

The Family Stone (2005)

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Is it sappy? Yes. Is it kind of mean to Sarah Jessica Parker? A bit, but girl can take it. But it also features a biracial gay couple (played by Brian J. White and Ty Giordano, whose character is also deaf) who are considering adopting a child together. Toss in a heartwarming ending (you absolutely will cry, so don’t bother trying not to) and a hilariously bitchy Rachel McAdams, and you’re a cup of nog away from a perfect December movie night.

Glee’s Christmas Episode (2013)

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The episode featuring a scene where Kurt and Rachel are seduced and robbed by a hunky shirtless bisexual store Santa (Popular’s Bryce Johnson) will probably go down as one of the most insane of a series that lived and breathed to offend. I mean, I roll my eyes at most of this show’s obvious shockbait, but even I got a kick out of the rousing nativity-set rendition of “Love Child”.

Chris Colfer and Darren Criss’s “Baby It’s Cold Outside”

Speaking of Glee, it’s worth mentioning the best song from the show’s first Christmas album, Kurt and Blaine’s wholesomely naughty duet.

RuPaul’s Christmas Ball (1993)

One might expect stars like Elton John, Boy George, and LaToya Jackson to show up on RuPaul’s charmingly low-rent, Club-Kid-sprinkled Christmas special (and they do). But Nirvana? Amazing.

Pee Wee’s Playhouse Christmas Special (1988)

k.d. lang, Joan Rivers, Charo, Grace Jones, Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello (who are forced by Pee-Wee to slave in a Christmas crafting sweatshop) are just a few of the stocking stuffers in this fever dream of a Christmas episode. But it’s this blink-and-miss-it moment near the end that is the angel on the top of this aluminum tree:

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Seriously, what the flock?!

“Homo Christmas” – Pansy Division

God I miss cable access…

Go (1999)

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For a snarkier, more drug-fueled take on the holiday season, check out gay scribe John August’s hilariously demented action comedy Go, which features an impeccable Y2K ensemble cast (Taye Diggs! Jane Krakowski! Katie Holmes! Timothy Olyphant!) including Melissa McCarthy in one of her earliest film roles and Scott Wolf and Jay Mohr as closeted soap studs forced to go undercover for the cops to get out of a drug charge. This movie’s a great time even if you don’t have a thing for hot guys in Santa hats.

Make the Yuletide Gay (2009)

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Out Degrassi alum Adamo Ruggiero starred alongside newcomer Keith Gordan in this charming comedy about a gay college student who pops back into the closet for the family holidays after being out at school. The movie also featured outspoken ally Alison Arngrim (yes, Nellie Oleson from Little House) as a neighbor.

Those are just a few of our inclusive holiday entertainments. Care to share yours?

Writer-filmmaker Brian Juergens launched CampBlood.org, the world's first website devoted to horror films from a gay perspective, in 2003.