Hallmark Channel holiday movies might be full of hunks and holiday cheer, but there aren’t any openly LGBTQ characters. Now, a spokesperson for the network says that is about to change.
The Christmas-obsessed cable net came under fire this week when it announced a slate of 40 new original holiday movies that will hit cable later this year, but none of the titles featured an LGBTQ lead character or storyline. According to Newsweek, Hallmark will be making announcements in the near future about “projects featuring LGBTQ storylines, characters, and actors.”
The #1 rated holiday event on television is back! @HallmarkChannel’s #CountdowntoChristmas kicks off Friday October 23 with 24 all-new original festive and romantic premieres all holiday season long. pic.twitter.com/dUfkSCepyl
— Hallmark Channel (@hallmarkchannel) July 15, 2020
“Diversity and inclusion is a top priority for us and we look forward to making some exciting programming announcements in the coming months, including announcements about projects featuring LGBTQ storylines, characters, and actors,” said George Zaralidis, vice president of network program publicity at Crown Media Family Networks, Hallmark’s parent company. “We are committed to creating a Hallmark experience where everyone feels welcome.”
While queer characters are not featured in Hallmark holiday movies, out actors are regularly cast, including Brothers & Sisters star Luke Macfarlane and Mean Girls alum Jonathan Bennett.
As NewNowNext previously reported, Bill Abbott, former president and chief executive of Crown Media, stepped down from his position after 11 years this January. Abbott’s exit came six weeks after Hallmark yanked TV ads for Zola featuring a same-sex wedding in response to targeted campaigns by anti-LGBTQ Christian groups.
Following swift criticism and backlash, Hallmark reinstated the Zola ads.
Mike Perry, president and CEO of Hallmark Cards, confessed in a statement that Crown Media execs had been “agonizing over this decision as we’ve seen the hurt it has unintentionally caused.”
“Said simply, they believe this was the wrong decision,” Perry continued. “Our mission is rooted in helping all people connect, celebrate traditions, and be inspired to capture meaningful moments in their lives. Anything that detracts from this purpose is not who we are. We are truly sorry for the hurt and disappointment this has caused.”
For the 2020 season, Hallmark Channel will debut 23 new movies over the holidays. Hallmark Movies & Mysteries network will premiere an additional 17, bringing the total to 40 films and tying last year’s record-setting number.