What a sweet film.
If you saw it, then you know it was just an adorable story about a teenage boy coming to terms with his sexuality and desperately trying to protect a life he loves and doesn’t want to change should he decide to come out.
As I watched, some elements of this story rang true and looked all too familiar (more on that later). But a big part of me left saying… wow… I wish every young LGBTQ person could come out under those circumstances.
- A school whose administration is wildly, unapologetically supportive and inclusive.
- A sassy theater teacher who publicly defends you to the school bullies.
- Bullies who do really no more than just mock you and one of the other gay kids (zero violence, zero name calling, zero intimidation, and no actual display of homophobia).
- Friends who aren’t surprised, unconditionally loyal, unafraid to hold you accountable for your behavior, and mature enough to overlook your mistakes (eventually) and forgive and forget.
- A dad whose in touch with his emotions, apologizes for creating an “unsafe” environment through flippant gay jokes (that… weren’t really *that* offensive… insensitive for sure… but not actually bigoted).
- A mom who reaches out but respects boundaries, who is wise, secure, empowered, and patient.
- A sister who is your biggest ally.
- And strong chemistry with another mature, well-adjusted, age-appropriate gay guy at your school.
What an amazing world. And wouldn’t it be amazing if that was the world every kid lived in?
That wasn’t my experience and unfortunately it’s not the experience of (if I may generalize) most LGBTQ people. That doesn’t mean Love, Simon is misleading. It doesn’t even mean that the story isn’t worth telling.
The truth is:
- All of us have a deep fear of what we’ll lose when we come out.
- Many guys have that amazing female friend who walks us through our growth years, and many of them mistake our deep emotional connection for attraction, and yeah, there’s heartbreak more times than not.
- All of us tried coming out to someone we weren’t really *that* close to first… a relationship that we decide is close enough that the reaction will give us a fair baseline but one we could move on without. Most of us (unless we’re outed) don’t tell those we’re closest to first… because those relationships are the ones we can’t bear to lose.
- We are desperate for feedback. Simon asks Abby: “Are you surprised?” And she says… “do you want me to be surprised?” The truth is: that’s exactly what we hope… but we don’t believe it’s possible.
But what I think I loved most about Love, Simon was the fact that not once did they talk about sex in the entire story. The entirety of the story centered around Simon’s desire for love, connection, and family. The climax (no pun intended) of the story is an innocent adolescent kiss. An entire relationship forms over e-mail and when he accidentally (spoiler alert) signs an e-mail “Love, Simon” all that’s happened is an exchange of vulnerability and support. No pictures, no talk of sex, nothing resembling lust… and that is one misconception I love that this movie corrects.
Go see Love, Simon. It’s worth it. Because we can make that world a reality if we want to. And it’d be an amazing world for our kids to grow up in.