Hallmark will now feature LGBTQ stories in Christmas movies

When the Hallmark Channel holiday movies air later this year, the annual "Countdown to Christmas" and "Miracles of Christmas" lineups will include LGBTQ narratives.

The holiday season will bring 40 new movies but the ones with LGBTQ storylines are making headlines right now. Producers say they are in "active negotiations" and that "more details" are on the way.

The announcement came days after the channel was bombarded with online criticism for teasing a slate of new Christmas movies that appeared to lack LGBTQ inclusion.

Hallmark responded to frustrated viewers by assuring them that new content will reflect their demands for better LGBTQ representation.

George Zaralidis, vice president of network publicity for Crown Media Family, Hallmark's parent company, issued an emailed statement to clarify the intentions for the upcoming releases. He identified diversity and inclusion as, "top priority."

"We look forward to making some exciting programming announcements in the coming months, including announcements about projects featuring LGBTQ storylines, characters, and actors," he said in the statement.

Zaralidis added that Crown Media is "committed to creating a Hallmark experience where everyone feels welcome."

LGBTQ audiences have long been urging Hallmark to adopt diversity and inclusion initiatives. In fact, the channel sparked heavy backlash from viewers in December for pulling four commercials featuring same-sex weddings.

The Hallmark Channel apologized and reversed the decision. President and CEO Mike Perry came forward saying it was "the wrong decision" in a statement at the time.

"Our mission is rooted in helping all people connect, celebrate traditions, and be inspired to capture meaningful moments in their lives. Anything that detracts for this purpose is not who we are."

Hallmark bills itself as the "country's leading destination for quality family entertainment."

By Kiely Westhoff via The-CNN-Wire™ & © 2020 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia Company. All rights reserved.

The Gayly. 8/8/2020 @ 11:11 a.m. CST.