Unfortunately, we all know that it's still slim pickings when it comes to queer representation in festive media, and while we've spent Queermas shouting out lots of LGBTQ+ holiday books, many of us love to put our feet up with a good film at this time of year.
So, if you're looking for a little bit of diversity and don't know where to begin, we've got a few titles in mind. While we're still waiting for our perfect sapphic rom-com, there are plenty of movies and shows to keep us busy until the industry catches up.
Recommended by us...
1. Happiest Season (2020)
We know, we know... What was supposed to be one of the first sapphic holiday rom-coms is actually just another movie centred around coming out. But, this TriStar Pictures production isn't all bad. Kristen Stewart is there as her best lesbian self, for instance, having swapped her vampy Twilight boyfriend for Mackenzie Davis. Aubrey Plaza ramps up the gayness even more (sadly, not enough to end up with Stewart's character) and, if nothing else, we get to watch Schitt's Creek star Dan Levy run around in a mad dash to replace the fish he accidentally killed while pet-setting for Abby (played by Stewart).
It's not perfect. If you're searching for a movie where lesbians get to just be merry and bright, with no homophobia or closets attached, this one isn't for you. As mentioned, the story revolves around Harper (Davis) and her struggles to come out to her conservative family. Abby is shoved firmly back in the closet and must pretend to be Harper's friend throughout, which is painful to watch. Even so, there's plenty of comedy and cosiness to be found, and eventually a resolution and happily ever after. So, if, like us, a great, queer-friendly cast is enough to sway you, you might find some enjoyment in the chaos.
2. Single All the Way (2021)
Netflix brought out this gay festive rom-com last year, and it was certainly a step up — no coming out necessary, for starters. Best friends to lovers and fake dating are just some of the fun tropes in this one, featuring Ugly Betty's Michael Urie and Philemon Chambers.
In terms of it being memorable... I can't actually remember much more than the general gist, but I do remember enjoying it all the same. Lots of 'awws' and 'wow, when will we get a sapphic version?' are to be had here, with the movie set in a small town while Urie visits his family for Christmas. And if that's not enough to convince you, the iconic Jennifer Coolidge also makes an appearance — the true sign of a great queer production.
3. Let It Snow (2019)
If you're anything like us, you may have grown up with a bookshelf full of John Green's books, with Let It Snow being one of them. This Netflix adaptation follows an ensemble cast of teens, with the likes of The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina's Kiernan Shipka and Spider-Man's bestie, Jacob Batalon. Naturally, the sapphic couple is the storyline with the shortest viewing time, featuring Santa Clarita Diet's Liv Hewson, but we do eventually get to see two sapphics falling in love and confronting their feelings in a Waffle House — yay! Now, once again, we are plagued by the fact that one of the characters isn't "out" yet and wants to hide the relationship, but since this is a teen movie, it feels much more authentic and understandable than Happiest Season, and the rest of the plotlines are also fun to be part of, following the chaos of a huge blizzard and featuring snowed-in stories that all come together in a satisfying conclusion.
This is a definite winter warmer for us at Swords and Sapphics and makes our rewatch list every year.
4. Imagine Me & You (2005)
I'm a simple woman. If you shout "Piper Perabo", I'll come running. If you shout "Piper Perabo falling for Lena Headey!", there will be a sapphic-shaped hole in the nearest door because yes please!
While this one isn't often counted as a holiday movie, it does have a wintry British backdrop — and that counts! The movie finds a newlywed falling for her wedding florist despite her vows to husband Matthew Goode. The love triangle trope isn't necessarily ideal, but the fact that this was made almost two decades ago allows us to look past the slightly iffy parts and appreciate it for what it is: hella gay, with two wonderful actresses and a friends to lovers plot. And who wouldn't leave their husband for Headey?
If you like your sapphic media with a good old grand gesture, this one's for you!
Also on our radar...
1. Spoiler Alert (2022)
Big Bang Theory's Jim Parson brings a story about a relationship between two men from the moment they meet to the tragic turn of a terminal cancer diagnosis. As Jim's character, Michael, says in the trailer: "This is less of a rom-com and more of a love story."
2. The Holiday Sitter (2022)
Sam is forced by his sister to babysit his niece and nephew and, because he's absolutely failing, he hires Jason the neighbour to help him before being defeated by the children. This is the first holiday Hallmark movie with a queer couple as the lead.
3. Carol (2015)
A sapphic classic featuring Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara, this romantic drama and period piece has been on our watch list for longer than we'd care to admit. As with all WLW historicals, you can expect forbidden love and intense eye contact.
4. Under the Christmas Tree (2021)
Another sapphic romance, this Lifetime made-for-TV film plants us back to present day, where Charlie finds a tree fit for a holiday celebration in Alma's backyard (not a euphemism... we don't think).
5. The Bitch Who Stole Christmas (2021)
RuPaul described this film as the "draggiest" Christmas film out there, and I think that's more than enough to convince us. It includes the likes of drag queens Ginger Minj and Peppermint and follows a workaholic journalist who finds herself digging up a new story in a small, Christmas-obsessed town.
6. Dashing in December (2020)
Wyatt returns home for the holidays to try and convince his mom to sell their ranch in this Paramount Original. But, uh-oh, he — spoiler alert — falls for a charming ranch hand who brings back his long-lost Christmas spirit. A standard Hallmark-esque story, but make it gay.
7. A Christmas Setup (2020)
Another gay made-for-TV movie? Who'd have thunk! This time, we have a meddling mum who is trying to set her son up with Patrick, a guy he, of course, used to have a crush on. Set It Up but make it gay?
8. City of Trees (2019)
It's always a good time to support indie productions, and this one is from Violet Wave, whose mission is to expand LGBTQ+ representation. Here, Ainsley returns to her hometown for the holidays and reunites with Sophie, a girl she had a crush on in high school and still has unresolved feelings for. Sapphic pining? Go on then!
9. Season of Love (2019)
With an ensemble cast of sapphic stories, Tello Films' Season of Love is a holiday rom-com following three different couples dealing with their love lives. It's described as Love Actually for the queer community — something we definitely need (not that we don't love Hugh Grant, whose dance through Downing Street isn't in the least bit straight).
And a few TV shows for good measure...
1. Merry Happy Whatever (2019)
A fun, festive Netflix sitcom surrounding a family coming together at Christmas, with eight episodes and only one season. The plot takes place in a matter of a few days and features Ashley Tisdale, who brings some lesbian rep to the dinner table.
2. Dash & Lily (2020)
Set in New York City, this Netflix original has something for everyone. It follows two (unfortunately straight) teens as they swap anonymous messages in some of their favourite spots, falling in love in the process. But there is a gay sub-plot that had us teary-eyed and soft, and with only eight episodes, we raced through this one when it came out two years ago.
3. With Love (2021)
This is still on our to-be-watched list, but anything featuring Emeraude Tobia and Bob Morley is a yes from me, and rumour has it there are a couple of episodes centred around a gay relationship. This one is an Amazon Prime exclusive following two siblings in search of a purpose during the holidays.
Let us know what you're watching and recommending this holiday season!