Queerly Not Straight: The Problem with Tello Films ‘Season of Love’

In an effort to build a space for queer people like myself, every Tuesday I’ll be posting opinion pieces, listicals, reviews, and more focused on the LGBT community (and occasionally about the Latinx/WOC community since I am Latinx.) Welcome to Queerly Not Straight! Enjoy and leave a comment below if you have a suggestion for what I should cover next.

For a film calling itself the “First Ever Holiday Rom-Com for LGBTQ+ Women” Season of Love by Tello Films has a multitude of problems that need to be addressed not later, but now! Because Season of Love ISN’T the “First Ever Holiday Rom-Com for LGBTQ+ Women.” It isn’t even the second one, and the fact that this movie tries to erase the great work of the queer community that came before them, is disrespectful and tragic for a company who prides itself as being inclusive. We’re here, we’re queer, and we’re not going to be satisfied with lies when it comes to the queer content we consume this holiday season. Because make no mistake,I want my LGBTQ this holiday season. But I don’t want it like this.

1. Not the first LGBQT+ holiday film

LezBomb, We Need a Little Christmas, Make the Yuletide Gay, or Holiday Help Desk. All queer. All LGBTQ+. And all being ignored and thrown to the side by a movie that wants to paint itself the first of the first when it comes to bringing the holidays to the queer community. And it’s bullshit. Season of Love isn’t the first queer holiday movie and it won’t be the last because the queer community has been hustling over a decade to get queer content out there for us when it comes to the holidays.

But “they’re the first ever rom-com for LGBTQ+ women” you say. So? LezBomb is a holiday rom com starring LGBTQ+ women. We Need a Little Christmas has an extensively queer and POC characters in a holiday film. And don’t even get me started on Holiday Help Desk. Just because it’s a short doesn’t mean that it gets to be ignored for a film claiming to be the “First Ever Holiday Rom-Com for LGBTQ+ Women.” Season of Love is not the first and we’re happy to welcome it into the family of queer holiday rom-coms that have made it possible for Season of Love to be so widely accepted and celebrated as one of many holiday rom coms for the LGBTQ+ community.

2. It’s taking the easy way out when it comes to diversity

From the press release to the actual website, this movie is being sold left and right as a diverse holiday take on a LGBTQ+ story. But from where I’m standing, I don’t see this diversity they keep harping on about. All I see is a bunch of light skinned people (like myself) front and center. It’s been a long held and fucked up reality that the lighter you are, the more roles you get, even if you’re an actress of color. And I see that happening here. Were there no actresses available with a little more melanin? What about actresses who are Muslim or wear a headscarf? Maybe Asian? The opportunities are out there to make this movie diverse and it just misses the mark so badly.

This makes me think about the women and queer cast & crew behind the scenes. Are they as painfully white as this cast? Was there no one around that could give them some tips on how to write, play, or present queer women of color on our screens? Cuz from where I’m standing, Season of Love is trying to paint itself as this valiant and awe inspiring effort of storytelling for the queer community without actually being diverse in front of the camera or behind it. And the moments they are diverse, like hiring a deaf actress to play a deaf character, just makes them look even worse for not hiring more queer actors in the first place because they WERE capable of doing so but decided not to.

3. They couldn’t find more queer actresses for this “iconic” film?

Now, this isn’t about forcing people to come out. You come out when you damn well please, my lovely new queers in the LGBTQ+ community. Wanting queer actresses to play queer characters IS the iconic move Tello Films should’ve done, especially when they are patting themselves on the back. And yes, I know it’s acting and they do have one queer actor. Duh. But if Tello Films is going to puff out their chest in pride because of the work they’re doing they might as well spent a little more time researching and hired more and ACTUAL queer identifying actors and actresses.

Why? Because we know how special it is to see ourselves in the content we consume and you damn well better believe we, as POC would contribute and speak our minds to create something truly inclusive and beautiful.

We want the queer content we consume to feel real, and like it comes from a place of honestly. And that’s what happens when you hire people that are part of the community and have dedicated themselves to representing the community on the big screen. But there were no queer actors around? Hogwash to the moon and back. The queer talent is out there and Hollywood and all it’s companions like Tello Films need to stop living behind the excuse of, “Well, I didn’t find any queer actors” or “I can’t ask them if they’re queer or not.” The talent is out there people and it MATTERS so damn much when companies take the time to do an actual search for queer talent.

4. It erases the work of women of color

This is the part that has my metaphorical panties in a bunch. Season of Love claiming to be the “First Ever Holiday Rom-Com for LGBTQ+ Women” erases the work done by films like We Need a Little Christmas. And here at Fangirlish, oh we’re not for that crap. The movies and shorts made by women of color in the queer community are ignored already because racism is still alive and well. And we will not have the queer work done by these women be erased for Season of Love or any other movie that comes our queer way. This could easily be fixed too.

Stop calling yourself the “First Ever Holiday Rom-Com for LGBTQ+ Women.” You’re not. Call yourself “A Holiday Rom-Com for LGBTQ+ Women,” because that’s what you are. Not the first one, the second one, hell, even the third one. And that’s ok. It’s not like people aren’t going to enjoy Season of Love. They will because we’re so used to getting scraps that we will watch anything that comes our way. But if it means we ignore the work done by women of color, then we aren’t here for it. We get enough of that shit when people forget about Anissa Pierce on Black Lightning for Ruby Rose’s Batwoman, like the latter is the first lesbian superhero (she isn’t) and we’re done standing silent or idly by.

Queerly Not Straight posts every Tuesday with opinion pieces, listicals, reviews, and more focused on the LGBT community (and occasionally about the Latinx community since I am Latinx.)

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