“I think I’m going to cry.”
I quickly reach into my pocket, pull out a packet of tissues, and clumsily press it into his hands. He gives me a quick look of appreciation and smiles wildly before mouthing the words “Thank you.”
I merely nod, unwilling to part from the screen for too long. We were only twenty minutes into the story and already I’m feeling something that is a mixture of joy and extreme sappiness.
I heard a sigh and I look over to my other side. She gives me a quick smile and squeezes my hand.
“This is so cute.” She whispers. I nod, aware that there’s a knot in my throat and I didn’t want to ruin the experience by bawling.
Love, Simon is a groundbreaking movie simply because it captures the experiences of gay teens so well. Sure, it was corny, cheesy, and filled with scenes that would normally make me cringe, but instead, I embraced every single thing about it with a joy that is so hard to explain.
Afterward, after much dabbing of the eye, we embark on our slow and reluctant journey out of the cinema. I can’t help but think with great joy, exactly how many queer teens would see this film and realize that there are people like them out there. I can’t help but smile with relief, hoping that if even just one queer kid could feel less alone, less ashamed of who they are, less scared; I could die happy.
Okay, I’m being a bit dramatic.
But you get the point: a coming to age film centered around the struggles and feelings of a gay teen is of paramount importance to anyone struggling with their identity. It is so relatable: the feeling of shame, the queasiness you get around heteronormative people (I had the most distinctive flashback to all the times I had to skillfully evade any questions about my girlfriend during a scene involving Simon’s dad asking him about his ‘girl crush’). And when he first comes out to his friend, I hung on to every word, I watched, eagle-eyed at the friend’s reaction. Even though I had already read the book before and knew her reaction would be a positive one, I still held my breath, waiting for the writers to turn the script around, waiting for the slow look of disgust. Fortunately, that didn’t happen and when she said: “I love you.” I choked up a bit. I know, I’m a sucker for cheesy things.
And there aren’t enough gay cheesy things available.
Which is why, and I know I sound like a broken record, Love, Simon is incredibly important.
It subverts any expectations of gay films by giving us a happy ending and explicitly showed us three (three!) same-sex kisses. It didn’t make Simon a stereotype, a raging unicorn riding rainbow farting caricature. He was just a normal gay teen who liked guys. And I think that is why every time I spoke to another gay kid who watched the movie, all of them, and I’m not exaggerating, all of them, said it’s the most relatable film they had ever seen.
Representation is so important for gay people to feel that their feelings are validated, their experiences are noted, and their life shouldn’t be left in shame. It’s a perfect blend of the darkest days we have, but also the breath of fresh air we feel, the relief we can almost taste on our tongue when we know we are loved, when we know that there are people out there who will accept us for who we are. We know that there will always be hate in the world, but there’s also so much love.
Love, Simon is so important.