Our gay apparel: The Lavender Tube on queer holiday viewing

  • by Victoria A. Brownworth
  • Tuesday November 28, 2023
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Ali Liebert and Humberly Gonzalez in 'Friends & Family Christmas' (photo: Hallmark)
Ali Liebert and Humberly Gonzalez in 'Friends & Family Christmas' (photo: Hallmark)

To paraphrase the song, "It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas movies, everywhere you go." As we lamented elsewhere, how is it I love Christmas so much and really don't like Christmas movies? And why are there so many of them?

Perhaps it's just that I am not a rom-com aficionado. Or perhaps I am just weary of the straight trope. But there are some queer Christmas movies out there, including a new one for this season from Hallmark, so grab your eggnog and cookies and settle in for some queer holiday cheer.

Family plan

This year, Hallmark is debuting a lesbian Christmas rom-com as well, which is amazing. "Friends & Family Christmas" stars Ali Liebert ("One of Us Is Lying") and Humberly Gonzalez ("Ginny and Georgia"). And it's a fake dating trope romance, too! Overwhelmed by Christmas events and a surprise visit from her parents, photographer Dani (Gonzalez) asks lawyer Amelia (Liebert) for help. Pretending to date is the perfect solution until real feelings start to develop in the magical atmosphere of Christmas.

Liebert identifies as queer and has discussed using her work to support representation in a Go Mag interview, saying, "I think having a specific space for conversation that promotes and celebrates work that uplifts queers is really important." (Go Mag)

Liebert, who starred in the queer fave "Lost Girls," said, "It's more important to me now, being queer myself and also portraying queer people in TV and film and having a space where people can speak to how they feel in being represented. Actors, writers and directors can use our voices to promote a representation of our community. It's important to see how folks feel about that."

She added, "All great art stems from community. It's something that, as I move forward as a producer and hopefully director, I'm focusing on—really taking the opportunity to create queer content."

"Friends & Family Christmas" premieres December 17.

Vincent Rodriguez III and Jonathan Bennett in 'Christmas on Cherry Lane' (photo: Hallmark)  

Holiday rom-com
Hallmark's 2023 holiday movie, "Christmas on Cherry Lane" stars everyone's fave romancer, Hallmark's #1 gay romantic lead, Jonathan Bennett. Here Bennett is paired with Vincent Rodriguez III ("Crazy Ex-Girlfriend") for a sweet confection in which three families celebrate Christmas at turning points in their lives.

A young couple preparing to welcome their first child; an empty-nester and her fiancé ready to start a new chapter; and a couple who unexpectedly have the chance to expand their family on Christmas Eve celebrate the holiday as they navigate these turning points in their lives. That last couple are Mike (Bennett) and Zian (Rodriguez), who are waiting for news about their efforts to adopt a child. It premieres December 9.

Singles night
And "Single All the Way," from 2021, is still pretty fabulous. Netflix's first original gay Christmas movie follows a perpetually single man who convinces his friend to pretend to be his boyfriend for the holidays, not knowing his meddling mom already has plans to set him up on a blind date with someone else.

Philemon Chambers, Jennifer Coolidge and Michael Urie in 'Single All the Way' (photo: Netflix)  

Desperate to avoid his family's judgment about his perpetual single status, Peter (Michael Urie) convinces his best friend Nick (Philemon Chambers) to join him for the holidays and pretend that they're now in a relationship. But when Peter's mother (Kathy Najimy) sets him up on a blind date with her handsome trainer James (Luke Macfarlane), the plan goes awry.

This is just such an enjoyable offering in this genre, in part because the cast is fantastic and the one-liners are just pitch perfect.

"How did I not know your mother had a drag name?" asks Nick as Peter tells him he has to refer to his mother as "Christmas Carol." And when Jennifer Coolidge (yes, Jennifer Coolidge!) says, "The gays just know how to do stuff!" it's a moment.

Auld lang signs
"I Hate New Year's" is a kind of "Last Christmas" of films. The 2020 musical romantic dramedy is directed by Christin Baker, from a screenplay written by Kathryn Trammell.

Layne Price (Dia Frampton) has enjoyed a successful music career, however she's hit a creative roadblock that she's unable to overcome. Interpreting advice from a fortune teller as meaning that she should revisit her roots, Layne sets out to return to her hometown of Nashville, Tennessee for New Year's Eve.

Dia Frampton with Ashley Argota in 'I Hate New Year's' (photo: Amazon Studios)  

Her best friend Cassie (Ashley Argota) is determined to confess her love to Layne, however Layne herself is more interested in finding one of her exes. As the two search, Layne finds herself starting to realize that she may be in love with Cassie as well.

Frampton was runner-up in the inaugural season of "The Voice" and thus she's very believable as a singer/songwriter. The film also stars one of our fave trans actresses, Candis Cayne as Zelena/Marley. It's available on Vudu, Amazon, YouTube, Google Play.

The 2012 film "Scrooge and Marley" is the gay Christmas movie everyone forgot, but why? A gay successful piano bar owner Ebenezer "Ben" Scrooge (David Pevsner) despises Christmas and other people. He also mistreats and underpays his employees. One night, Scrooge encounters the ghost of Jacob Marley (Tim Kazurinsky) — who died ten years before the film — in chains, warning Scrooge that he will suffer the same fate in the afterlife, and that the three Spirits will visit him.

After he goes to sleep, Scrooge encounters the Ghost of Christmas Past (Ronnie Kroell), who transports him to the 1970s. There, they see Ben's father (Michael Joseph Mitchell) kicking Young Ben (Drew Anderson) out of the house after seeing Ben make love to one of his male classmates.

Ronnie Kroell and David Pevsner in 'Scrooge and Marley' (photo: Darkstar Pictures)  

Four months later, Young Ben befriends a young disco club employee Jacob Marley (Nicholas Bailey) and is hired by the club owner Fezziwig, who treats him like a son. Young Ben develops a relationship with Bill (Christopher Allen), whom he met at Fezziwig's club.

On Ben and Bill's first Christmas season together, Ben's close sister Franny (Allison Torem) dies after giving birth to her daughter Freda. Then Ben's father sends him a letter instructing him not to visit or honor the family, distressing Ben. For comfort, Ben and Bill declare their love for each other.

Over the years, Ben, Jacob and Fezziwig become co-owners of the club and expand their business. However, Ben and Bill's relationship becomes strained when Ben increasingly focuses more on his career and money and neglects Bill.

In the mid-1980s, Ben and Jacob trick Fezziwig into transferring his business to them and then kick Fezziwig out. Outraged about Fezziwig's fate and having enough, Bill ends the relationship with Ben, upsetting Ben. Eventually, Bill dies of AIDS in 1987, yet Ben refuses to visit him when Bill is dying or to mourn him.

Chicago Now deemed the story "faithful to the Dickens classic, but with a gay-friendly twist." Watch on Vudu, Tubi, YouTube and Amazon Prime.

Boomer queers can revisit their youth immediately post-Stonewall and others can get a blast from the past by watching a surprise gay Christmas movie from 1971, "Some of My Best Friends Are..."

On Christmas Eve 1971, in Manhattan's Greenwich Village, a group of gay men and lesbians meet at the mob-owned Blue Jay Bar to talk about their lives and relationships.

New York Times film critic Vincent Canby wrote at the time that the movie was "a second-rate spin-off from 'The Boys in the Band,'" with "hammy performances and a sentimental screenplay that sounds as if it had just been let out after 30 years in a closet."

Meow. Spill that tea. Now you know you want to see for yourselves, right? The cast of stars includes Rue McClanahan, Gil Gerard, Gary Sandy, Joey Taylor, Fannie Flagg, Sylvia Syms, Royal Ballet dancer David Drew, Nick Denoia (the later murdered Chippendales choreographer) and the luminous Warhol star Candy Darling, who died just three years later at only 29.
Watch the entire film here:

For some decidedly un-Christmasy viewing, in Showtime's new series "The Curse," Emma Stone and writer/actors Nathan Fielder and Benny Safdie provide a brilliant takedown of gentrification, modern straight marriage and all the things we can't quite get right in our quest for sustainability and climate consciousness.

Whitney (Emma Stone) and Asher Siegel (Nathan Fielder) are a newlywed couple struggling to bring their vision for eco-conscious housing to the small community of Española, New Mexico.

But their efforts are complicated when an eccentrically flawed reality TV producer, Dougie (Benny Safdie), sees opportunity in their story. As the series unfolds, the couple find themselves caught in a mysterious web of ethical and moral gray zones, all while trying to keep their relationship afloat. The series is as unsettling as it is hilarious. It's now streaming with the Paramount+ with a Showtime plan.

Life in wartime
Finally, the scenes of Hamas hostages being released has made for bittersweet viewing over the past days. Hamas abducted some 250 people during a murderous spree on Oct. 7 — mostly women, children and the elderly — in contravention of every rule of war. The Oct. 7 massacre of 1,200 civilians in Israel prompted the brutal retaliation against Gaza by the Netanyahu government that has killed more than 13,000 Gazans, mostly women and children, and triggered worldwide opprobrium.

The reuniting of families after seven weeks of captivity was joyous for those whose families were put back together. But it's hard to imagine the grief of those whose loved ones remain held hostage. It's even harder to envision what happens when Israel ends the ceasefire.

As an historian said on CNN Sunday morning after the third round of hostages was released, there are 40,000 Hamas according to the IDF. Of those, Israel says they have killed 2,000 in recent weeks, while also killing six times as many civilians. What would happen to civilians if the IDF returns to the same level of bombings?

It's a fraught and incendiary time. So for the real news as well as the holiday reprieves, you know you really must stay tuned.

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