The Hallmark Channel will finally include LGBTQ stories and characters in the upcoming Christmas movies for December 2020. The move to bring diversity to the channel follows years of criticism for not and last year's controversy with a Zola commercial that included a same-sex wedding. In December 2019, Hallmark pulled the ads following a petition from the conservative group One Million Moms, but later apologized and reinstated the ad.
When the 2020 Christmas movie line-up was announced earlier this month, many were disappointed to see once again that none of the stories involved LGBTQ characters. On Thursday, Hallmark told Good Morning America it would announce "projects featuring LGBTQ storylines, characters and actors" soon. "Diversity and inclusion is a top priority for us," the company added. "We are committed to creating a Hallmark experience where everyone feels welcome."
In December 2019, One Million Moms launched a petition calling for Hallmark to "stay true to its family-friendly roots" and ignore requests for the network to bring diversity to its movies finally. They claimed to have "received concerns" about the Zola.com commercial that featured a same-sex wedding that aired on Hallmark. The company then pulled the ad, with Crown Media Family Networks CEO Bill Abbott saying it "aired in error," which led to One Million Moms claiming victory. Zola responded by pulling all its advertising from Hallmark.
After a weekend of criticism, Hallmark reversed the decision and apologized. "The Crown Media team has been agonizing over this decision as we've seen the hurt it has unintentionally caused," Hallmark Cards Inc. President and CEO Mike Perry said at the time. "Said simply, they believe this was the wrong decision." Perry said the company's mission is "rooted in helping all people connect, celebrate traditions, and be inspired to capture meaningful moments in their lives," and "anything that detracts from this purpose is not who we are."
One month after the controversy, Abbott left the company. It was not until Thursday that former TV One CEO Wonya Lucas was hired as his replacement. "In some ways, my entire career has led me to this incredible opportunity to use the breadth of my experience and skills to evolve an iconic and beloved brand, a culture and a business," Lucas told The Hollywood Reporter last week. "I am honored to link arms with the multi-talented leaders and their teams at Crown to build toward an exciting future."
The 2020 Christmas season will feature 23 new Hallmark movies, as well as 17 new films for the Hallmark Movies and Hallmark Mysteries channel. The new titles include If I Only Had Christmas with Candace Cameron Bure, Christmas Waltz with Lacey Chabert, Cross Country Christmas with Rachel Leigh Cook, and Christmas Carnival with Tamera Mowry-Housley.