THE QUEER TEEN ROM-COM WE DESERVE
*Spoiler Alert: Love, Simon comes out in theaters on March 16, but I was able to get into an advance screening and knew I HAD to blog about it immediately. If you must, bookmark this post and come back to it after you've seen the movie. I won't talk too much about the plot, but proceed at your own risk!
Within the last six months, I've been able to indulge in quite a bit of queer media, from the Oscar-nominated Call Me By Your Name to the anime Yuri!!! On Ice, and it doesn't seem like that trend is going to be stopping any time soon. This past week, I had the opportunity to see an advance screening of the film Love, Simon, based on a bestselling novel Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda and also the first film centered around a gay teen's coming out story to be backed by a major film studio.
In short, the film centers around Simon Spier, a high school senior who is still in the closet. His secret email exchanges with another anonymous closeted boy at his school aside, his life is pretty normal, that is until one of his classmates discovers their string of emails one day and threatens to out him if Simon doesn't help set him up with one of his female friends. Love, Simon then follows him as he has to navigate this whole blackmail situation while simultaneously trying to figure out who his mystery boy is. In my own mind, it's the contemporary gay Cinderella story, if you will.
The film itself is wonderful, and I found the plot lines pulling me back into all kinds of different seasons of life, because the story is so generally relatable to queer people as they reflect on their own coming out stories (or at least it was for me), whether that's falling in love with someone over text/email because you don't know very many other out people or you're not out yourself, to that deep wave of panic that comes when you're outed before you're ready.
And it might even be the little nuances that the film gets right that will be the most powerful for the queer people in the audience. At one point, when Simon finally comes out to one of his friends, he asks her if she's surprised. She says that she's not, which then prompts him to ask if she knew then. She likewise responds that she didn't, subtly noting the difference between already having known and not being surprised at someone coming out. This was one point that particularly resonated for me, because it plays on the anxiety that queer people tend to feel prior to coming out. Are you ready for people to know? What if they already know? What if it's too obvious? But also do you want them to be surprised? It was a touching moment that really nailed one of the tiny intricacies of coming out.
LOVE, SIMON IS AN INCREDIBLY NORMAL ROM-COM THAT JUST HAPPENS TO BE ABOUT A QUEER PERSON, AND THAT'S WHY IT MATTERS.
Love, Simon is also funny and heartbreaking in all the right ways that a rom-com is supposed to be, and I think that was the most powerful aspect of the film for me. Like I had said about Call Me By Your Name, this film normalizes an experience that every queer person goes through, regardless of what point in life it happens. And in that normalization, it also doesn't let Simon get away with treating his friends poorly in order to keep his secret. In every way, Love, Simon is an incredibly normal rom-com that just happens to be about a queer person, and that's why it matters. It matters because this is the kind of movie that could've changed the trajectory of certain parts of my own life in high school. I wish a movie like this had been out when I was in high school.
By being almost ordinary and fulfilling several movie tropes, Love, Simon gives the straight population a window into the coming out experiences of a queer person and all of the complicated emotions and events that are tied to one of the most monumental moments of their life. And as a complement to Call Me By Your Name, the love story in Love, Simon ends on a high note, again normalizing queer love in a major way. That's the magic of this film, and it's the magic of all the queer media that's been coming out (pun absolutely intended) over the last few months.
IT DOESN'T HAVE TO BE REVOLUTIONARY OR GROUNDBREAKING TO MAKE AN IMPACT. BEING ABLE TO SEE YOUR EXPERIENCES REFLECTED BACK MATTERS. #REPRESENTATIONMATTERS
It's mainstream. It's real. It might be a little cliche, but cliches shout from the rooftops that the subject matter is normal, and that makes a world of a difference to queer people. Because it doesn't have to be revolutionary or groundbreaking to make an impact. Sometimes, it's the exact opposite. Love, Simon is important because it opens up another space for queer people to see themselves in, because being able to see your experiences reflected in popular media matters, because #RepresentationMatters.
So, go see the movie and think of all your queer friends as you're watching, even if they're right there with you. Something, and more than likely multiple somethings, you're watching probably resonate with them, and maybe they've experienced some of the exact same things.
#RepresentationMatters and this is a win for the queer people out there, because it tells a story all of us can relate to in some way, shape, or form. And that's amazing. And that's needed.
Thanks for reading this post. If it resonated with you, please consider sharing it. That's the best way to help me as a writer if you like my work. If this post stirred up thoughts inside of you regarding this topic, let your voice be heard in the comments below. Let's talk about this. And if you want to get in touch about this post or anything else, send me a note!
Thanks for stopping by!