"Diversity and inclusion is a top priority for us,” a Hallmark Channel spokesperson said.
Hallmark movies are not short on stories about cis, straight, white couples. But after previously pulling out a commercial featuring a gay couple, the network is now making operations for their hasty decision. The Hallmark Channel has announced that it will be making more LGBTQ movies and including those in its holiday programming, according to PEOPLE. This decision though comes after criticism about the channel's Christmas movie lineup with 40 original films with almost no diversity. None of the films seemed to include any representation from the LGBTQ+ community. But the recent announcement offers a glimmer of hope for more inclusive Christmas movies in the future.
“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,” a Hallmark Channel spokesperson said in a statement. “We are committed to creating a Hallmark experience where everyone feels welcome." Last year, Hallmark pulled a Zola commercial that featured a gay couple after receiving complaints from One Million Moms, a conservative group that is a part of the American Family Association.
#Hallmark, which makes movies that are both overwhelmingly white and nearly 100% heterosexual, has pulled an ad by #ZOLA featuring lesbian brides. I guess I'll stop buying Hallmark cards. And I'll start buying whatever the hell ZOLA sells. pic.twitter.com/fXNXDCCwDO— Jay Zarqa 20/20 (@YarmoukZarqa) December 15, 2019
This move was criticized by big names including Ellen DeGeneres and William Shatner who joined the pushback by using the Twitter hashtag "BoycottHallmarkChannel." After the severe backlash, Hallmark admitted to the "wrong decision" and reinstated the ads featuring two brides kissing at the altar. “The Crown Media team has been agonizing over this decision as we’ve seen the hurt it has unintentionally caused," Hallmark Cards CEO Mike Perry said a statement at the time. “Said simply, they believe this was the wrong decision. ... We are truly sorry for the hurt and disappointment this has caused.”
Thank you for doing the right thing. My Mother, who lives with me, enjoys watching Hallmark movies with me every night. I am a hopeless romantic, and as a gay man, I look forward to the possibility of seeing gay characters in future movies.— Roger Hoch (@imn2dzine) December 16, 2019
At the time, Perry had said the network will be "working with GLAAD to better represent the LGBTQ community." GLAAD is an LGBT advocacy group and its president and CEO had said, "[Hallmark's] decision to correct its mistake sends an important message to LGBTQ people and represents a major loss for fringe organizations like One Million Moms, whose sole purpose is to hurt families like mine." Perry also added, “Across our brand, we will continue to look for ways to be more inclusive and celebrate our differences." The channel will, in the coming months, start working on projects with LGBTQ storylines, characters, and actors.
Hallmark will be working with GLAAD to better represent the LGBTQ community across our portfolio of brands. The Hallmark Channel will be reaching out to Zola to reestablish our partnership and reinstate the commercials. pic.twitter.com/p17nJpnjEB— Hallmark (@Hallmark) December 16, 2019
“Our mission is rooted in helping all people connect, celebrate traditions, and be inspired to capture meaningful moments in their lives. Anything that detracts from this purpose is not who we are. We are truly sorry for the hurt and disappointment this has caused,” Perry had mentioned in the statement released in December. Molly Biwer, senior vice president for public affairs at Hallmark had also said, "Crown Media had been in agony over the hurt that this had caused. Hallmark has an unwavering commitment to diversity and inclusion.” The reversal, she said, "truly reflects who we are as a company. We celebrate all families."
I'd unironically love this!— Indoor Jess 🍞🌹 (@MercurialMiss) December 16, 2019
Hallmark, in collaboration with GLAAD will be working to “better represent the LGBTQ community across our portfolio of brands.” You can also take a look at the 40 original Christmas movies announced by the channel here.