- The TV channel’s parent company said diversity and inclusion are top priorities and they will announce new programming developments
- The channel previously saw controversy when it banned an advertisement with a same-sex wedding
Hallmark's holiday movies will include "LGBTQ+ storylines, characters and actors," its parent company announced Wednesday, after initial online backlash.
Shortly after the network announced the 40 original movies that will bring the Christmas spirit to the small screen this year, which are set to start playing nearly two months before the holiday, some Twitter users noticed the lack of LGBTQ+ representation.
As Jarett Wieselman, a social media manager at Netflix, pointed out, there are "40 new Hallmark Christmas movies, not a single queer lead."
Crown Media Family Networks, Hallmark's parent company, later clarified the company's position.
"We are in active negotiations and look forward to announcing more details when we can." George Zaralidis, Crown Media's VP of network program publicity, said in a statement.
"Diversity and inclusion is a top priority for us and we look forward to making some exciting programming announcements in the coming months," he said referring to LGBTQ-inclusive movies.
"We are committed to creating a Hallmark experience where everyone feels welcome."
The 40 original movies announced by the network - with titles that include "Christmas Waltz," "A Christmas Tree Grows in Brooklyn," and "A Royal Holiday" - are set to kick off October 23 on the Hallmark Channel and the Hallmark Movies & Mysteries.
The announcement came just months after a statement shared with the media by Molly Biwer, Hallmark's senior VP for public affairs and communications, affirming the company's "commitment to diversity and inclusion."
In December, a decision by the Hallmark Channel to ban an advertisement featuring a same-sex wedding was met with backlash by many of its customers, prompting an apology by Mike Perry, the president and CEO of Hallmark Cards, as well as a reversal.
"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 said.
"Across our brand, we will continue to look for ways to be more inclusive and celebrate our differences," he added.