Right-wing grinches declared war last week on the Hallmark Channel’s “Countdown to Christmas” for showing a commercial about two women getting married, so the cable network yanked the ad. But after LGBT and other groups complained, Hallmark brought the 30-second spot back. And while a boycott by the One Million Moms organization is still on, those shamelessly sentimental boy-meets-girl-under-the-mistletoe movies that have become a Christmas tradition among my friends and family members will jingle along — with a girl-meets-girl happy ending.
I’m genuinely grateful for this Christmas gift because I refuse to give money or time to businesses determined to enforce “faith-based” or other forms of disdain for people like me as though their ... preferences were the secular law of the land. But while I can and do survive quite well without Chick-fil-A waffle fries, I would miss curling up with the fuzzy blanket of Christmas Wishes and Mistletoe Kisses and countless other lighter-than-air Hallmark fairy tales. Go ahead and scoff if you must: To me, there is no other seasonal enjoyment quite like dishing and dissing while unabashedly loving the predictability, the pretend snow, and the good-hearted glow that make these movies such a pleasure.
So thanks to Hallmark’s decision, I continue to binge. As well as diss: Lead romantic roles for actors who happen to be people of color are so rare in these Christmas movies, it verges on absurd. Hard to believe that in 2019, Hallmark insists on making movie after movie in which African American, Latino, and Asian characters are almost always the heroine’s former sorority sister, somebody’s cubicle mate, or a jolly fellow who sells Christmas trees on the village green. Seriously?
The relative invisibility of nonwhite people, and the nearly total invisibility of LGBT characters of any consequence, let alone in lead roles, sends a message utterly at odds with the widely shared view of Christmas as a time for generosity of spirit. These glaring omissions also work against the jolly mood of the movies themselves. As if the prominent presence of nonwhite people — or of two lesbians in a commercial — were so inherently upsetting, distracting, or horrifying as to burst the glittery baubles of fantasy Hallmark so reliably provides.
The demand that the joyous lesbian couple in the commercial be exiled or erased would be laughable if it didn’t also reflect a deep resentment among a not-insignificant number of Americans who are dismayed if not enraged by the fact that LGBT people have made such progress in recent decades. One Millions Moms got into such a dither about Hallmark’s change of heart that the group’s website thundered: “Hallmark [and] all that make up those companies will ALL bow to the Lord.”
All that fire and brimstone is a reaction not merely to a single commercial, but to the simple fact that more than one million lesbians and gay men are legally married to same-sex partners, according to the Williams Institute of the UCLA School of Law. Gay people are increasingly visible everywhere in American life, and the right-wing’s endless battle against our secular freedom to pursue life, liberty, and happiness — and our freedom to exist, period — has largely been lost. So much so that an American-as-apple-pie greeting card and media company readily welcomed back those two beaming brides.
Look, the casting department of Hallmark’s Christmas movie empire has plenty of evolving to do when it comes to diversity. I look forward to more movies that feature the stories of all sorts of people, including LGBT people. But the channel made the right call on the “controversial” commercial — enough to warrant wishing them a very merry Christmas.