Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

‘Love, Simon’ was the movie queer youth needed

I’m just like Simon. For the most part, my life is totally normal. In high school, I glared at the 7 a.m. alarm, shuffled to school half asleep and drove through the suburbs with my friends at night, head carelessly out the window. Except I had one huge ass secret. Nobody knew I was gay until I was outed.
Sure, my close friends knew, but when I came home in October of 2013, my mom burst into my room weeping and saying, “Please say it isn’t true.” That’s when I understood this was something entirely different, something my family couldn’t un-know. I was outed by a former friend who called my parents earlier that day to tell them I was gay. It was the same day one of my friends passed away.
After that, high school got hard. I ran to music, newspaper, academics, anything that made me work my ass off because to me, being different became a limit – being different was unacceptable, so I had to bury it in as many accomplishments and resume stuffers as I could – just to prove that I could be excellent, too. 
Until senior year, I couldn’t see myself as “totally normal,” and that’s why ‘Love, Simon’ is so necessary. Simon’s just a “regular” kid with a tight group of friends and a supportive family – everything a high school senior should have. But he’s also gay, and the movie does a great job of showing what it’s like to come out or be outed even in that accepting environment.
“But Thea,” you might be saying. “It’s 2018 and Obama said the gays could get married. Now they’re everywhere and everyone’s fine with them. Aren’t we past needing this movie?”
Absolutely not. Saying queer kids don’t need this movie because same-sex marriage is legal is like saying black kids don’t need ‘Black Panther’ because the slaves are freed. Representation still matters. No one raises a fuss over straight people – the subject of every other romantic comedy – not needing another movie. And goodness knows we don’t need another Nicholas Sparks reject clogging the box office.
‘Love, Simon’ is necessary not because it’s breaking ground by suggesting the novel idea that it’s okay to be gay. ‘Love, Simon’ is necessary because it’s a celebration of how far the LGBT+ community has come and about two hours of reassurance that, as Jennifer Garner’s character says, queer youth can stop holding their breath and exhale now.
Moreover, ‘Love, Simon’ doesn’t settle by saying homophobia is over. The movie works because it’s still relevant, because it recognizes that despite our progress, coming out is always going to be difficult.
Keiynan Lonsdale, who plays Bram in the movie, said he didn’t feel comfortable coming out as bisexual until the wrap party, even though he was clearly in a supportive environment with a gay director and an accepting cast. Coming out is something that straight people will never understand or have to go through, and it’s one of the most isolating parts of being queer regardless of how solid your support system is. It’s a difference that’s written on your insides, and a difference that countless LGBT+ people carry with fear when entering new situations because it never really stops – you have to come out over and over forever.
Saying that we are past this movie is to settle, to downplay the continual struggle of queer folks who are still fighting for freedom in gender neutral bathrooms, trans service in the military, adoption rights and sexual health education. And though most LGBT+ youth don’t have the privileged life Simon does, it’s still a step in the right direction, presenting real issues in a mainstream way to people who might not usually seek it out.
‘Love, Simon’ shows a future of acceptance that could be possible and invites us to be brave by coming out and trying to create that environment of love without fear for everyone. It is necessary and valuable because when Simon’s mom said, “You get to exhale now. You get to be more you than you have been in a very long time” or when Simon’s dad said, “I love you and I’d never change anything about you,” it was for all of us: all the queer youth and adults who had our stories taken from us, who fight to be recognized, who still don’t feel safe enough in our own homes to be completely ourselves.
And so Simon comes to us with an understanding email in our inbox, with an iced coffee and a smile in the morning, as a friend, not asking us to be anyone but ourselves.

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‘Love, Simon’ was the movie queer youth needed