Christmas holidays are always an exciting time of the year for me. Coming from Brazil, it means summer season, long days and afternoon rosé lightened up by some fairy lights. Since relocating to the UK I started to appreciate the walks in frosty weather with a glass of mulled wine. I guess it gives me the feeling that I could be in a movie – straight out of a classic rom-com, ready to stumble on the love of my life.
More recently, however, it started to bother me that I was seduced by the romantic portrayal of relationships. Why did I still wait for the next heterosexual love story where couples live through pre-conceived fantasies?
I have reached a point in life where I have passed the aim to fit into a traditional model and do not feel the need to fit into heterosexual frames. As a result, fantasising of a holiday drama wouldn’t make much sense.
Trying to address that, I started to look into alternatives to my classic favourites; to my luck, this year has been particularly prolific in LGBT+ Christmas movies: Happiest Season; The Christmas House and a handful of other options. They include Kristen Stewart and Hallmark’s debut in the genre. Also, A New York Christmas Wedding brings together the cheesiest title of all and an Afro-Latina main character, which brings some genuine change to the scene. It was also part of this year’s American Black Film Festival.
But something seems a bit off when we try to cage the freedom of queer experiences inside the frameworks of heterosexual love stories. I’ll expand: to me, queer is the awareness of sexual oppression sided by a radical questioning of society’s expectations. It is a political choice to be out of the box, unlabelled, unfit to the tick-box approach. For this reason, it bothers me to see movies with the same formula and plot, but only with LGBT+ characters.
The conversation is even more difficult if we bring race issues to the conversation: diversity is apparently off the cards for film producers. There is still a long way to go until we can see true inclusiveness and representation, authentic interactions between different ethnicities without feeling that there is some sort of tokenism being used.
Furthermore, the beauty of being part of the LGBT+ community is the opportunity to pursue a more authentic lifestyle. It is the chance to embrace queerness and be freed from the heterosexual matrix. And it makes Christmas movies kind of lose their purpose.
So here I am, between my desire to feel represented in Christmas movies and the refusal of the idea of being coopted by a fixed format of living.
But there are some positives in amplifying the portrayal of non-heterosexual relationships in movies of this category. It gives visibility to our community. It shows that these relationships, joyfully developed under the mistletoe, are also available to us.
Bringing queer love stories to the mainstream sends the message that the option is there for us. It takes us from the outskirts and puts us in the centre of the conversation and by the Christmas tree. Marriage and conventional love stories are not the only option or the desirable outcome of every non-heterosexual relationship. But it is a possibility and there is a public that feels empowered to see that.
Being part of a generation that grew up with the idea that love stories were not available to us, there is some relief in the positive representation of our community. Normalising love stories go far in spreading the message that we are here and ready to live the lives we choose to live: and one option can be beautifully represented in these films.
I will continue to watch Christmas movies and keep on craving for the next romantic innuendo on the big screen. Not because I want to replicate that lifestyle, but because it reminds me that everything is possible: to have the enchanted fantasy and to refuse it.
Queer love stories at this time of the year can be endearing and entertaining. At the end of the year when we are bombarded with messages of love and acceptance, having our community positively represented can do wonders for the movement. The ways we can embrace it are as varied as the nuances of the LGBT+ community. And I, for one, am ready to keep being carried away with these stories whilst we transform the catalogues of ‘classics’.