7 Queer Christmas Movies That Should Be Classics

Because you can't just watch "The Yule Log."

Happiest Season, director Clea DuVall’s rom-com starring Kristen Stewart as a lesbian planning to propose to her still-closeted girlfriend (Mackenzie Davis) during a family holiday party, should be an instant queer classic when it hits theaters in late 2020. But that’s a year away. What are you going to watch now?

Good news: Besides this year’s Season of Love and the Netflix original Let It Snow, there is a solid (though still pretty slim) collection of LGBTQ+ and inclusive holiday movies on tap, including emotional international titles that you may not have seen (or realized are super festive).

To help you out, we’ve rounded up seven of those films—some of which go all the way back to the 1970s—and included where you and your squirrel friends can watch them. So pour the ’nog and pull up a seat.

  1. Some of My Best Friends Are… (1971)

    Writer-director Mervyn Nelson’s near-forgotten early feature takes place in a Greenwich Village gay bar where regulars and some drama-stirring visitors spend an eventful Christmas Eve together. Although The New York Times called it a “hammy… sentimental… second-rate spinoff from The Boys in the Band” when it was released in 1971, it serves as a valuable pre-AIDS time capsule of the era’s LGBTQ chosen family (and, well, stereotypes and self-loathing), and it was shot in NYC’s long-gone Zodiac gay bar barely two years after 1969’s Stonewall riots. Plus, how can you go wrong with actors like Rue McClanahan, Fannie Flagg, and transgender Andy Warhol superstar Candy Darling, and lines like “He’s a bastard, man. I wouldn’t let him shit on my cock”?

    Where to Watch It: Amazon Prime

  2. Home for the Holidays (1995)

    Jodie Foster assembled a 1990s dream cast—Claire Danes! Anne Bancroft! Holly Hunter! Dylan McDermott!—for her second directorial effort, a delightful and honest Baltimore-set tale of multigenerational family love and dysfunction in which Robert Downey Jr. plays Tommy, a delightfully obnoxious, jokey gay artist who loves working his sister’s (Cynthia Stevenson) last nerve. Despite taking place during Thanksgiving, the film is Christmas-y AF, and, again, Downey plays gay, so get your glogg on!

    Where to Watch It: Hulu

  3. Holiday Heart (2000)

    This Showtime original movie, adapted by African-American playwright Cheryl L. West from her play and directed by Robert Townsend, stars Ving Rhames as Holiday, a good-hearted drag queen whose Chicago policeman boyfriend recently died. Holiday comes to the aid of a recovering junkie, Wanda (Alfre Woodard), and her daughter Niki (Jesika Reynolds), but their chosen family is put to the test when a drug dealer (Mykelti Williamson) seduces Wanda. Best known at the time as the dangerous, vengeful crime boss Marsellus Wallace in Pulp Fiction, Rhames plays way against type, and boy does Holiday lip-synch for her life!

    Where to Watch It: Amazon Prime

  4. Tokyo Godfathers (2003)

    What happens when a chosen family of three homeless folks—including Hana, a transgender woman who dreams of being a mother—discover an abandoned baby on Christmas Eve? Inspired by Peter B. Kyne’s 1913 novel The Three Godfathers, the same source material as the iconic 1980s comedy Three Men and a Baby, this moving, critically beloved animated dramedy had a U.S. theatrical run to qualify for the Oscars. Despite some dated bits of homo- and transphobia, it will give you the burst of Christmas spirit you’ve been waiting for.

    Where to Watch It: Crackle

  5. C.R.A.Z.Y. (2005)

    Queer Quebecois director Jean-Marc Vallée (Dallas Buyers Club, Big Little Lies) made his first international splash with this Montreal-set, music-filled adaptation of François Boulay’s semi-autobiographical screenplay about growing up gay with four brothers. Born on Christmas Day, Zac (Marc-André Grondin) becomes obsessed with rockers like David Bowie, The Rolling Stones, and Pink Floyd, but struggles with his sexuality, wildly different siblings, and Catholic, conservative father, Gervais (Michel Côté). The final reveal of the title’s true meaning will have you crying, so definitely watch this with someone you can hug.

    Where to Watch It: On old-school DVD, at least until a North American streaming service offers it again. But it’s worth the purchase and shelf space!

  6. Tangerine (2015)

    Not all Christmastime movies are merry, but director Sean Baker’s uproarious, invigorating, critically acclaimed comedy (famously shot on a modified iPhone) manages to balance the light and dark with its frenetic tale of an L.A. transgender sex worker, Sin-Dee (Kitana Kiki Rodriguez), who spends Christmas Eve—fresh off 28 days in prison—with bestie Alexandra (Mya Taylor) in hot pursuit of her pimp boyfriend (James Ransone) and the cisgender female he’s been banging on the side. Themes of chosen family and forgiveness make this a modern (if unlikely) holiday classic you’ll bring out more than once.

    Where to Watch It: Hulu

Main image: Tokyo Godfathers.

Lawrence is a New York-based travel and entertainment writer whose work has appeared in National Geographic Traveler, Time Out New York and The New York Post.
@LawrenceFerber