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Why ‘Love, Simon’ Isn’t the Revolutionary Queer Romance 20th Century Fox Thinks It Is

Courtesy of 20th Century Fox

Recently on YouTube I was watching interviews with some of my favorite actors and an ad popped up for the upcoming film Love, Simon. 

It wasn’t an ad I could skip and by the end of it, my eyes had rolled practically all the way to the back of my head. As an openly queer woman, specifically a pansexual woman, I have grown so tired of the same queer representation we’ve been seeing for decades. I am tired of coming out stories and representation only for white conventionally attractive gay male characters and characters that fit stereotypes. Love, Simon managed to do all three in a short YouTube ad. In addition, the whole “straight people coming out as straight” gag is tired and problematic.

Entertainment Weekly calls the trailer “groundbreaking.” Bustle claims that Love, Simon “has the internet in tears.” I, personally feel little more than frustration. From slogans like “He’s done keeping his story straight” to “a love story that must come out,” the promotion of Love, Simon makes a spectacle of Simon’s sexuality, and markets the film entirely on his sexuality. There has yet to be a heterosexual romance marketed in this way. We don’t get a heterosexual romance about Adam and Alice called “Straight A’s” or a straight romance about athletes named Chad and Becky called “Playing It Straight,” so why is it so impossible for those behind Love, Simon to go more than five seconds without making a pun or reference toward Simon’s sexuality?

I was talking about the trailer with a friend of mine who identifies as lesbian and she loved the trailer and couldn’t see why it bothered me so much. She essentially told me that “beggars can’t be choosers,” and that since queer representation is limited we have to celebrate everything we get.

I have a really hard time accepting that and don’t feel I should have to. As a pansexual woman, I have had to wait around way too long to be represented. I had waited so long for a Deadpool film, hoping once he’d star in his own film his pansexuality could be addressed. But I watched as Tim Miller failed to deliver upon his word that his Deadpool would be pansexual—not acknowledging his sexual orientation in the film beyond a couple blink-and-you’ll-miss-it clues.

From Jodie on SOAP to Jack on Will & Grace to Simon of Love, Simon, it seems that we haven’t developed very far from the same media portrayals of the white, feminine, theater-obsessed and Britney Spears-loving gay men we’ve grown so accustomed to. Would it be too much to ask for more queer leads of color, queer leads that aren’t wealthy or upper-middle class, or queer leads who don’t fit the sassy gay sidekick mold in 2018? Is it too much to ask for queer women to be leads? Is it too much to represent the queer community beyond gay and lesbian characters? Is it too much that a queer character’s story arc goes beyond coming out storylines? Is it too much to have a film with a queer lead that doesn’t market itself with gay puns? It continues to seem, for me, that Hollywood feels my requests are too much to ask for.

Update: “I Was Absolutely Wrong About Love, Simon

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  1. A lot of the movie was to entertain and pull at your heart strings as Simon struggles with his sexuality. This is one of the first big modern movies to do that with no regrets and the will to take the back lash. A crucial part of the movie, Blue, (Spoilers to anyone who has not seen the movie) is a black, Jewish, and gay man. Both characters are portrayed in a very healthy way, striving away from stereotypes that really show the viewer a different perspective. Especially to the cis-gendered heterosexuals in the crowed.
    Try comparing modern mainstream “LGBT friendly” movies. Love, Simon. A movie about the struggles of a regular teen’s sexuality. Live Action Beauty and the Beast. A movie with a side character that just so happens to be gay, that gets washed over by a sappy cis-gendered heterosexual love story. And that was a REMAKE of the original all straight all cis movie!
    While Hollywood isn’t going to follow all the demands LGBT has for being portrayed as regular humans in media in one fell swoop, Love Simon is an amazing step to getting there.

  2. i think love simon is a pretty big step for a huge production company and mainstream/blockbuster film in general. although the White Gay narrative is a little exhausted in pop culture (whether it be film, literature, or what have you), i think that this is a big step when it comes to LGBT+ representation within mainstream teen-marketed content. yeah, there are other films that are more inclusive and involve more queer POC or diversity within the LGBT+ spectrum, but love simon is a huge step for a production company that is known for releasing/distributing major blockbuster films (a large portion of queer movies are released by independent production companies: moonlight was released by A24, my own private idaho was released by fine line, etc). love simon is truly the first big-budgeted, john green-y type teen movie that puts an LGBT+ character at the forefront of the storyline and does not make his sexuality a cliché gimmick. it’s not GBF, it’s not scott pilgrim. even though it’s not a perfect film, view love simon as a small step and push for more inclusive and diverse content.

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Written by Julia

I'm an 18 year old college student from California, currently pursing an English and Women's and Gender Studies double major. I'm an avid fan of pop culture, from films, music, to comic books and graphic novels, although I acknowledge the many problems within these industries. I am openly pansexual, although I frequently use the umbrella term "queer" in conversation.