*A few light spoilers ahead*
I’m not going to lie, when I first heard about Love, Simon, I knew pretty much nothing about the book, and honestly a trailer for a rom-com about a white cis gay boy who likes theater and crushes on the gardener next door in shorts and work boots, with straight people coming out didn’t appeal to me at all.
As a pansexual woman, I constantly feel similar disenchantment with queer representation, so I simply saw Simon as just another queer character I wouldn’t relate to, which is where the frustration behind my previous article came from. I was absolutely wrong about that. After hearing more about the film, I gave it a chance, and boy am I glad I did.
Before Love, Simon, the only queer representation that really resonated with me was Patrick in The Perks of Being a Wallflower. Patrick was never ashamed of being gay, never hated himself for being gay, and didn’t have some big elaborate coming out story. He’s very proud to be queer, but still understands that homophobia is a very real issue that he’s going to face. So much of the representation I had been used to painted being queer as an internal conflict that for me was very external. I never had some elaborate internal conflict with me being queer. I never was ashamed of my sexuality, and never “came to terms with who I am” or “accepted myself as I am”. I just stayed in the closet because I knew others wouldn’t embrace my sexuality the same way. The only thing my connection with Patrick didn’t provide me is a coming out story like my own, and that’s exactly what Love, Simon did for me.
Simon isn’t ashamed of being gay. He just doesn’t know how to come out, and for him, no time feels quite like the right time.
Every time his dad makes a micro-aggressive joke, he hesitates even more, and you can see it in his face. I connected so deeply with that feeling. Every time I was around someone in my family who made fun of someone for being “fruity” or “totally gay” I hesitated again and again. He talks about waiting until college to be fully out, which is a lot like what I did. I was out to a handful of people but now I simply live out. Going to college and starting a new chapter of life and just being out, to begin with really did feel so much easier than coming out after years of knowing someone. In addition, I too was outed. Not quite in the same way as Simon or on remotely the same scale, but watching him stand up to Martin for taking away his right to come out on his terms was so important to me. That speech was everything I wished I had said when I was outed. Everything about Simon’s story felt so relatable to me and resonated with me a great deal.
More importantly than the relatability factor, as every queer person has a different experience to some degree, was what Love, Simon stood for. I saw queer couples of nearly all ages in my local theater feeling safe holding hands and going out to the movies together. I was surrounded by queer couples happy to be together, happy to be who they are. We cheered and applauded when Simon discovered Blue’s identity because we all were thrilled to see a queer love story end in joy. Simon got the happy ending he deserved, the ending all queer people deserve, and that was beyond refreshing.