It’s that time of year again. The magical season of holiday movies is upon us! Streaming services and movie channels are awash in happy, romantic movies. I, for one, can’t get enough. I love holiday books, TV shows, and movies. But over the last few years, I’ve noticed something—my holiday romance reading has grown far more diverse with LGBTQ+ pairings occupying a significant portion of my book budget and many holiday romances featuring ethnic and religious diversity, but the movie selection has stayed predominantly white, middle class, and achingly heterosexual.
Every few years I watch Make the Yuletide Gay because it makes me happy, but it’s almost ten years old now and pretty much the lone entry in the queer holiday movie market. I was delighted to see that this year will feature a few ethnically diverse holiday movies, but we’re still waiting for the same sort of delightful holiday LGBTQ+ romances. Big city movers and shakers returning to small towns, bakers and toy makers, teachers and single parents, magical realism, reunion romances and second chances. The possibilities are endless and extend far beyond the coming out narrative.
As a bisexual woman, I’d love to see more diversity within existing movies simply by having more diverse backstories. Give that heroine an ex-girlfriend lurking in the background. Allow the hero to be coming off a breakup with a guy or nonbinary person. Give us strong secondary characters of a variety of sexualities and let them too have happy endings beyond the “single gay BFF” stereotypes. And yes, make LGBTQ+ people the stars of the show too. Give us happy endings and lots of them!
Luckily, where movies are falling short, books are succeeding wildly. There are so many amazing holiday novels across the LGBTQ+ spectrum brimming with holiday magic, guaranteed happy endings, and tons of good feelings. The time is right for more queer holiday movies, and I’ve got a list of favorites that would be perfect for adaptation to the big (or small!) screen.
To start, I’d like Santa to bring me a delightful lesbian winter romance. Fire on the Ice by Tamsen Parker features opposites attract female skaters at a winter sports competition. All the fans of Cutting Edge would love this one, and Blaze is the bad girl heroine we didn’t know we need. Another female/female pairing that would make an incredible holiday movie is Take Me Home by Lorelie Brown. It features so many of my favorite tropes: personal ad, fake relationship, big extended family on Thanksgiving, quirky secondary characters, road trip, and pets.
Then, we need a gay Hanukah movie. Why are there not more Jewish holiday movies? Much as I love existing holiday movies, they do tend to act like Christmas is the one-and-only Winter holiday. Luckily, Eight Nights in December by Keira Andrews is one of the most adorable New Adult holiday romances out there, and its twist on the forced proximity trope is both sexy and heartfelt. Her roadtrip reunion romance If Only In My Dreams would also make a fine addition to the holiday roadtrip movie genre!
And speaking of reunion romances, Second Chance by Jay Northcote isn’t precisely holiday, but it has all the elements of a perfect holiday movie — return to a small village, family, single parents, and reunion with an old crush. One of the heroes is transgender, and it would be amazing to see a movie handle that as deftly as this beautiful romance does. Like Andrews, Northcote is a master of the holiday romance and What Happens At Christmas is one of the best fake relationship holiday romances out there.
In addition to wanting representation for other holidays, it would be awesome to see a poly holiday romance of some ilk, see happy ending possibilities beyond the 1+1 = HEA standard. Both Fall on Your Knees by J.A. Rock and Lisa Henry and Santa Baby by Heidi Cullinan are m/m/m pairings that offer something a little different (and sexy!). Outside the Lines by Anna Zabo is another book that’s not precisely holiday, but the small-town game shop at the heart of the book would fit right in with all the small business-themed movies out there. The unique poly romance between a gay man and a bisexual man and his fabulous wife would give a fresh twist on all the struggling local business holiday movies.
Much as I love unique pairings and tropes, I also love old standards too. And there is nothing quite so beloved as the single parent holiday romance. I Heard Him Exclaim from ZA Maxfield is quite possibly my favorite holiday romance of all time, and would be a perfect fit for Hollywood with its silver fox Santa-in-disguise hero, big happy family, and adorkable uncle raising his cute niece . And is there anything more Christmas than a Christmas tree farm? The Christmas Proposition by KA Mitchell is another favorite of mine, and its family-run Christmas tree farm setting and heartfelt reunion romance give it lots of adaptation possibilities.
And these are just a few of the hundreds if not thousands of LGBTQ+ holiday reads perfect for a Hollywood happy ending. The time has come for a rainbow invasion of the traditional holiday movie genre. Our holiday movies need to reflect all of us—diverse religions, ethnicities, sexualities, and socioeconomic statuses. The season would be so much richer with more representation!
I’m fond enough of this word that I’ve thought a good deal about its prevalence and its power in romance. The fact is, the grunt does a lot of work in romance novels; it’s a meaningful shorthand for a lot of things. Sometimes, a hero grunts because he’s generally got a grouchy, taciturn personality, and this is a quick way of showing it. Sometimes he’s jealous. Sometimes the grunt is a mode of communication that hides a wound—a response designed to close a painful point of discussion. Other times (this is a personal favorite), the grunt is really a defensive reflex of shyness, the only noise a hero can bring himself to make in a social situation where he feels overwhelmed. Also, of course, it’s a pretty reliable communicator of sexual desire and pleasure (I’ll spare you my thoughts about this iteration of the grunt: but I do have them!).
That’s quite a burden for one little sound. The interesting thing is, I think that may actually be the point of the grunt—as a noise, it must bear the weight of all different types of communication the hero struggles to execute successfully. For me, as a reader, that means there’s usually another, more meaningful shorthand happening with my grunting heroes: they are performing a certain type of cis-gendered masculinity, a masculinity that suggests certain kinds of communication are off-limits or somehow threatening to men. And I’m along for the ride, in part, because I expect—and want—to see that performance break down at some point on the journey to happily-ever-after.