BY MAX WELLS
When I was little, every piece of media I saw was geared toward straight people. Disney movies were about a helpless woman finding Prince Charming, the songs I heard were about a man and a woman falling in love, and advertisements were just riddled with heterosexual sex appeal.
I was about 12 when I knew I was gay, and as an avid reader I was desperate to find stories that I could relate to. Here’s the thing – representation matters. Fiction is integral in how we view and process reality. It’s exactly propaganda is used in wars: what you see influences how you think and act. Especially at a young age, children perceive what they see and read to be true. Which is why as a young boy, I thought my feelings were unnatural and weird. I didn’t see myself anywhere. I tried so damn hard to be straight, but eventually came to terms with who I am. How? By using the small fragments of representation I did uncover.
Let me explain: I was constantly picked on in school for being too feminine, and I could tell that boys in my class were also influenced by misogynistic and heteronormative media. However, when I read books like The Hunger Games and Divergent, both featuring extremely powerful female protagonists, I felt some representation. Yes, the main characters are female, but I related to them due to my femininity being such a threat to the outside world. Reading about these kick-ass women inspired me to come out and be who I am. Without that representation, I don’t know where I would be today.
Enter the gay rom-com, Love, Simon. Love, Simon is such a necessary movie. It’s a truly groundbreaking film. Not because of the story or the acting. Not because it’s well made. Because of it’s innocence. Love, Simon (based on the novel Simon vs the Homosapiens Agenda by Becky Abertalli) is a comedic, heart felt film about gay teenager Simon Spier (Nick Robinson) who is struggling to come out of the closet. Simon has a great group of friends, a great relationship with his family, and an average high school routine. He begins an anonymous online relationship with another gay boy at his school. The film centres around Simon trying to identify his mystery Prince Charming and trying to be open about his sexuality.
As the film ended and the lights came on, I thought to myself: Imagine if I had seen this movie when I was 12? When I was younger, there was obviously some gay representation in film. Similar to literature though, it was generally for a more mature audience. Not only that, but the stories were always about gay characters having to hide who they were and never had happily-ever-afters. I remember seeing Brokeback Mountain, and thinking it was the most depressing thing ever. I thought, If that’s what being gay is like, I don’t want any part of it. I wanted to see a boy my age, in school, being gay, and getting his happily ever after. Yes, it might be cheery and fluffy but think about it this way: straight people have movies like A Cinderella Story and Grease which are light-hearted romance films. Love, Simon is the sugar-coated gay romance the LGBT community deserves.
Why does every gay story need to be about struggling with your sexuality? Why can’t gay romances ever end happily? Well now they can. Love, Simon shows young LGBT teens that things can end well. That you can have a happy life where your sexuality does not define you. In the film, Simon is bullied one time about his sexuality, and even so, a teacher steps in, handles the situation and says that judging someone based on their sexuality is not tolerated. When Simon comes out as gay, his friends and family offer him unwavering support.
Young LGBT teens can finally see themselves on the screen and feel represented. The story isn’t dramatic and depressing, it’s light and comedic. It’s exactly what the LGBT community needed and finally has. I’m so grateful for this film and can’t wait for young teens struggling with their identity to see that they aren’t alone.
Love, Simon is now in theatres.