“Love, Simon” tells the story of a boy named Simon’s coming out experience. What is interesting about this movie, is just how different his story is from so many others. Simon seems to have an incredibly stable home life – his parents are still in love, his younger sister’s biggest concerns are how to get recipes right, and the most worrisome thing in his life is his sexuality. Perhaps this movie could be criticized for such an unusual, largely uncommon portrayal of coming out. But, and again, perhaps, it could be viewed in another, more positive way.
I saw “Love, Simon” the week it was released, and for my part, it was perhaps the most amazing movie I have ever seen. Sitting through that movie, I felt so many emotions. I was laughing at its comedic scenes, cringing at some of the most “high school” parts, and spent a lot of time crying everywhere else. I felt Simon’s story down to my core. However, this was not because I had the same experience Simon did, but rather, it was the exact opposite. Coming out was, and still is a struggle and a process that has taken an emotional toll on me. And while my own circumstances have made the process long, drawn out, and just downright painful, Simon’s coming out experience was relatively short and (spoiler alert) had an incredibly happy ending.
And that’s just it. It isn’t what I had, but it is what, more than anything, I wished I had. When Simon came out to his parents, I had tears streaming down my face because I have wanted to do exactly what he was doing for so many years. I have wanted to be able to let that secret go. Watching Simon do that, watching him tell his parents that intrinsic part of who he was without having to fear what might happen… it is what I have always dreamed of. And I know I’m not alone. When my friends and I were in the movie theater, I couldn’t help but notice the number of older gay couples, both men and women, in the theater, feeling this movie right along with me. I couldn’t help but feel the energy of the audience as every scene unfolded. I felt every one of their laughs, their silent tears, their cheerful exclamations. I couldn’t help but think that the horrors that queer people in the United States have faced throughout all of our history has led us to this moment. To a point in time where a major motion picture company produced a film with a gay lead character that didn’t have to conform to the worst stereotypes of gay culture just to wow the audience.
I’ve heard some critics ascribe this movie with “revolutionary normalcy,” and, perhaps for the first time, I’m not jumping away from that word. What is normal if not human? What is normal if not for the fact that we are different, but the same? Is understanding our shared humanity not the goal of everything we fight for? Is it not that we reach to see each other, to empathize and to connect and to feel and to love, to understand our place in this world? We all have our different experiences, our diverse backgrounds and circumstances. We each have our own pain, our own suffering, our own injustice. And even still, we each have our own hopes and dreams. Simon’s story is unique. It has its downturns, it’s moments of pain and reflection that are but a sliver of a glimpse of how much agony is felt by other queer people every day. But more than anything, Simon’s story is happy. It is a dream. And this, this film, this story, this time; this is my hope. This is my dream.