Lesbian romance in Christmas movie Happiest Season reignites debate about who can play gay characters

A new Christmas romantic comedy that centres on a same-sex relationship has triggered a fiery online debate about who should portray LGBTQ characters onscreen.

Happiest Season follows a young woman who plans to propose to her girlfriend while attending her family's annual holiday party - before realising her girlfriend has not come out to her conservative parents.

It stars Kristen Stewart, Mackenzie Davis, Alison Brie and Aubrey Plaza and was released this week in Aotearoa and the US.

Stewart, who has dated both men and women in real life, was interviewed by Variety about the film and the "grey area" of straight people playing gay characters. 

"If you're telling a story about a community and they're not welcoming to you, then f**k off," the Twilight star said.

"But if they are, and you're becoming an ally and a part of it and there's something that drove you there in the first place that makes you uniquely endowed with a perspective that might be worthwhile, there's nothing wrong with learning about each other."

Stewart goes on to say that Davis, her romantic interest in the film, does not identify as lesbian but was the only person who could have played the role.

"I could defend that, but I'm sure that somebody with a different perspective could make me feel bad about that - and then make me renege on everything I've just said," she said. 

"I absolutely would never want to traipse on someone else's opportunity to do that - I would feel terrible about that. So my answer is f**king think about what you're doing! And don't be an asshole."

On Facebook, commenters are raging.

Facebook rages about Kristen Stewart's comments on who can play gay characters while promoting Happiest Season.
Photo credit: Facebook

"No one can say that if the two characters in Brokeback Mountain were portrayed by gay people, that their portrayals would have been better. I highly doubt it," wrote someone on VT's Facebook page. 

"There are gay people who have for many years portrayed straight people long before Kristin appeared on the scene... get over it and the let the PC rhetoric die.

"Choose the best actor's for the job, and to hell whether they are gay, straight, or whatever in their private lives."

On the Yahoo Movies UK Facebook page, someone said: "So if you're an actor playing Hamlet do you need to be Danish and of royal descent? That's why it's called acting."

Happiest Season is in New Zealand cinemas now.