When Love, Simon first came out, the film was one of the first major Hollywood movies starring a gay lead. The film has all the elements of a typical high school rom-com: teens trying to fit in, high school romances, friendship drama, and more; but the main difference is that the protagonist is a closeted queer high school boy dealing with the consequences of being outed. Based on the book Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, the film follows Simon learning to accept his sexuality and coming out to his family and friends. Love, Simon symbolizes a groundbreaking step to the LGBTQ+ community, especially for many queer teens in high school as they feel represented by the film.
One of the reasons why Love, Simon is often described as groundbreaking is that it is unlike most LGBTQ+movies. Most LGBTQ+ movies are often targeted at adults and show many LGBTQ+ character cliches. In the past, queer characters have been featured in mainstream teen movies but often as the “gay best friend” or “feminine boy” side characters. Because of this, it is refreshing to see Simon and his love interest, Blue, portrayed as normal high school students without being stereotyped or feminized. In addition to Simon’s own journey to self-acceptance, the film also emphasizes his relationships with family and friends. Simon’s mother, portrayed by Jennifer Garner, gave an analogy of what it’s like being in the closet and being afraid to come out:
“You get to exhale now. You get to be more you than you have been in a very long time. You deserve everything you want.”
While this resonated with many queer audiences, it has also left a heavy impression on straight audiences. As a straight person, I have met a lot of queer friends and have admired their courage to show the world their true selves. However, this scene made me reflect over and over again, and I realized how little I actually understand what queer individuals experience. Although I will never be able to fully understand the pain, fear, loneliness, and all the other emotions that they go through, this amazing scene has allowed me to get a little glimpse of what it is like for queer people to come out, educating me on why coming out is such an important milestone for the LGBTQ+ community. Love, Simon has the ability to teach its young audience that it is okay to be true to themselves and express their own sexuality while conveying the message of being respectful and understanding of each other as there is always more to what people are experiencing than what we see on the surface. Furthermore, I think that this film offers parents an important perspective of what their LGBTQ+ children might be feeling, in which they can learn from the film and know how to be a better support system for their children.
Overall, Love, Simon is a celebration of LGBTQ+ teens all over the world, even though it might not be a perfect portrayal. Not only is it a step towards reaching more representation in the mainstream media, but the film also represents another step closer towards equal rights and treatment for the LGBTQ+ community. Simon’s incredibly emotional journey can bring hope to queer teens today and the future LGBTQ+ generations. And as an ally, this film gives me more perspective and understanding of LGBTQ+ experiences, allowing me to be a more supportive ally. But most importantly, I believe that like Simon and Blue, everyone deserves their own happy ending.