Saying the company is in “active negotiations” and will reveal “more details soon,” a representative from the Hallmark Channel announced that some of the movies included in its annual “Countdown to Christmas” and “Miracles of Christmas” holiday programming will include LGBTQ+ characters, actors, and storylines. The network was met with pushback recently when none of the announced titles in its 2020-2021 slate of holiday films seemed to includ queer themes or characters.
"Diversity and inclusion is 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," George Zaralidis, vice president of network program publicity at Hallmark's parent company, Crown Media Family Networks, said in a statement. "We are committed to creating a Hallmark experience where everyone feels welcome."
The network had earlier released a partial list of 40 movies for the upcoming holiday season, and received blowback for its lack of LGBTQ+ stories, including one from Netflix writer JP Larocque.
The Hallmark Channel is renowned for its popular programming that includes made-for-TV movies featuring romantic storylines and plenty of happy and sappy endings.
Last year, Hallmark Channel CEO Bill Abbott told co-host Daniel Fienberg on The Hollywood Reporter’s “TV's Top 5” podcast the network is open to “really any type of movie of any type of relationship in any space,” including same-sex romances in its seasonal Yuletide offerings. Shortly thereafter, though, the network had to apologize for removing an advertisement showing a same-sex wedding couple. That ad was later reinstated after a public outcry.
“Hallmark is, and always has been, committed to diversity and inclusion – both in our workplace as well as the products and experiences we create,” Mike Perry, president and CEO of Hallmark Cards, said in a statement at the time. The company was also embroiled in controversy last year when they banned a Zola ad that featuring a lesbian couple.