Written by Hannah Rose Showalter.
“My name’s Simon and I’m just like you, except I have one huge… secret. Nobody knows I’m gay.”
For most movie-goers, this might be the first time they’ve heard a sentence like that spoken in a movie. Not spoken as an insult, or the punchline to a joke, but spoken as a normal, everyday part of life.
Simon Spier is your average teen. He loves his family and friends, and he can’t wait to graduate high school. He’s hiding one secret from everyone he loves, though: he’s gay.
Love, Simon is a story many teens haven’t seen played off-screen, but one a lot of us have been desperately awaiting. Most coming of age stories center around a heterosexual boy or girl. LGBT+ youth rarely see themselves on-screen as protagonists. Members of the LGBT+ community are usually portrayed as the butt of a joke, or as the comedic relief sidekick. Love, Simon puts LGBT+ youth in the forefront of the story.
Love, Simon is a fun and light-hearted film that will leave you wanting to go on a long drive with your friends, iced coffee in hand and your favorite summer playlist blaring through the speakers. It’s a teen romance movie that will leave you checking the showtimes for the next time you can immerse yourself in its world.
So why is Love, Simon so important? For starters, it gives LGBT+ kids the representation they have been desperate for. The power in seeing someone like them on the big screen is underrated. That feeling of “I’m not alone” or “He’s just like me” is priceless, especially for young people. Movies like Love, Simon show that it isn’t atypical to be gay, which is important for everyone to see, including straight people. For far too long, LGBT+ identities have been seen as out of the norm, which can lead to dangers like intense depressive and suicidal behavior in the LGBT+ community, particularly in its youth.
For people who have never experienced a lack of representation in media, a movie like Love, Simon might seem like a trivial thing. Why does it matter to see a gay person treated kindly and fairly in a big picture?
Love, Simon paints a happy coming-out story, with supportive parents. This has been a complaint of the movie for some critics, but others (and myself) believe it to be one of the strong points of the film. There are far too many movies that paint a bleak image of life as an LGBT+ person. While it’s true that everything isn’t always sunshine and rainbows when it comes to revealing your sexual orientation, having that be the only representative story shown to diverse audiences is toxic and dangerous because that simply isn’t always the case.
There are families and friends that will unashamedly accept you when you come out. There are little sisters like mine who will tease you about having a girlfriend just the same as they would with you having a boyfriend. There are best friends like mine who will help set you up with the girl or boy you like, and tell you how proud they are of you for becoming comfortable showing others the real you. There are moms like mine who will support you wholeheartedly.
“I just want you to know that I love you; I wouldn’t change anything about you.”
Life for LGBT+ teens doesn’t have to be rough. I believe things are changing for the better, and moves like Love, Simon are making the world just a little bit brighter. If we can keep sharing stories about all kinds of love, we can make the world a better, more accepting place. Movies like Love, Simon are the rainbow after the thunderstorm.