The producers have revealed that they are in "active negotiations" to make the holiday movies more inclusive.
Everyone is excited about what the Hallmark Channel has in store for us in their annual "Countdown to Christmas" and "Miracles of Christmas" lineups which are scheduled to air later this year. There will be 40 new movies broadcasted throughout the holiday season but the ones that are currently making headlines involve LGBTQ storylines. According to CNN, the producers have revealed that they are in "active negotiations" to make the holiday movies more inclusive and that "more details" will be shared soon. The vice president of network program publicity at Hallmark’s parent company, Crown Media Family Networks, George Zaralidis, said, "Diversity and inclusion [are] a top priority for us, and we look forward to making some exciting programming announcements in the coming months, including announcements about projects featuring LGBTQ storylines, characters and actors."
It makes me happy for the LGBTQ community! They deserve sappy romance movies just like the rest of us! And if you don't agree, then don't watch them - simple. I read some people will stop watching the channel altogether. Ridiculous.— OutrightView (@NaslundKatie) July 24, 2020
Although Zaralidis did not offer any specifics, he said "We are committed to creating a Hallmark experience where everyone feels welcome," according to Huffington Post. The announcement came following the channel's "Christmas in July" celebration, which concluded last Sunday. They were flooded with immense criticism online after their 40 new Christmas movies, which did not appear to be LGBTQ inclusive, were announced. Journalist and screenwriter J P Larocque wrote: We are not free until a QUEER lonely careerist leaves the big city to run their small-town family business during the holidays and inadvertently falls in love with a generically good-looking person from their past.
40 new Hallmark Christmas movies, not a single queer lead pic.twitter.com/PFRWstBSMN— Jarett Wieselman (@JarettSays) July 15, 2020
Author Rahaf Harfoush tweeted, Hi @hallmarkchannel, I’m cis and straight and I would absolutely love to see movies with more queer leads. Always here for a good love story, let’s up the representation. User Duane Poole was among many who appreciated Hallmark's recent decision to include LGBTQ characters. He shared: Having written more than my share of movies for Hallmark, I would love to see their pictures better reflect the diversity of Real Life. The news today that they're now actively pursuing LGBTQ stories is certainly a step in the right direction! Bravo! (I mean...Hallmark!)
You're goddamned right I'm watching Hallmark Channel. You don't have to be a member of the LGBTQ+ community to be an ally and want representation while you play Hallmark Xmas Movie Bingo with friends over cocktails— Bury Me With Bourbon (@SomeCallMeCap) July 24, 2020
Previously, the Holiday Channel came under fire after it banned an advertisement featuring same-sex couples. The decision came after its parent company, Crown Media Family Networks, faced immense backlash from viewers and advertisers who threatened to boycott its television channel. Zola, an online wedding planning company, had showed same-sex couples celebrating marriages and this did not sit well with some of the viewers. "Our mission is rooted in helping all people connect, celebrate traditions, and be inspired to capture meaningful moments in their lives. Anything that detracts for this purpose is not who we are. As the CEO of Hallmark, I am sorry for the hurt and disappointment this has caused," said Hallmark president and CEO, Mike Perry at the time, admitting the decision to pull the advertisments was wrong.
I married my husband in 2009, and we raised 5 children together. The @hallmarkchannel’s decision to cave to pressure from homophobes is very sad. Until they affirm the equality of LGBTQ families, we will #BoycottHallmark. LOVE MAKES A FAMILY. ❤️ https://t.co/IYmEQiF39Q— Jon Cooper 🇺🇸 (@joncoopertweets) December 15, 2019
Zola explained that their withdrawn advertisements were among the several similar commercials which were scheduled to run on Hallmark. Now, "the only difference between the commercials that were flagged and the ones that were approved" is that the flagged ones displayed a lesbian couple kissing. Whereas a commercial featuring a heterosexual couple kissing was approved, the company argued. The controversial advertisement featuring a lesbian couple was removed after a conservative group called One Million Moms, organized a targeted campaign and called on the network to exclude the ads and further ban any content showing same-sex couples.
After being condemned for their decision to pull the advertisement, Perry assured Hallmark's audience that "The Hallmark Channel will be reaching out to Zola to reestablish our partnership and reinstate the commercials," adding that they would also be working with the advocacy organization GLAAD in the hopes that it would represent the LGBTQ+ community better across its brands.