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‘Love, Simon:’ The coming out and coming-of-age story we needed in 2018

‘Love, Simon:’ The coming out and coming-of-age story we needed in 2018

‘Love, Simon:’ The coming out and coming-of-age story we needed in 2018
March 19
19:19 2018

“Genuine” is the first word that comes to mind after seeing “Love, Simon.”

Everybody deserves a great love story. Openly gay director Greg Berlanti delivers just that with this touching, heartfelt film based on Becky Albertailli’s novel “Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda.”

“Love, Simon” is a cultural breakthrough as a teenage romantic comedy focused on a gay character. One that fits perfectly among the growing number of recent films released in the last year that placed emphasis on showcasing diversity on-screen. 

Protagonist Simon Spier (Nick Robinson) has a “perfectly normal life” — except no one knows he is gay.

An anonymous classmate, “Blue” comes out on the student blog where Spier reaches out to him under the pseudonym “Jacques” (“Jacques a dit” is French for Simon says). Spier then finds himself falling in love with Blue one email at a time over the next two months.

Unfortunately, the emails are discovered by classmate Martin Addison (Logan Miller) who threatens to out Spier to the entire school unless he helps Addison get together with Spier’s friend Abby Suso (Alexandra Shipp).

What’s refreshing about this film though, is Spier is not pushed to the side as other gay characters typically are in the media. He is front and center as our narrator instead of the best friend offering fashion or relationship advice to a straight female friend, or a one-line character tossed into a storyline in an attempt to be inclusive.

There is something everyone can relate to in the film, from the vice-principal who tries to fit in with the kids to the group of friends on their way to school to the typical everyday high school drama. The lightheartedness of the majority of the film is a breath of fresh air as it paints a gay character in mainstream media in a different light than audiences are used to.

Even the “villain” is not the typical villain. Addison is the loser outsider who wants a shot at being with the hot, new girl. He is not malicious and you cannot help but feel sorry for him as he unsuccessfully tries his hardest to win Suso over.

Still, that does not excuse blackmailing to out someone before they are ready.

“Love, Simon” is a different take on coming out. Spier has not come out mostly because he does not know how he should do so. Some people want an elaborate sashay out of the closet while others just casually mention it to friends in passing. 

And do not forget about Spier’s semi-drunken rant about the concept of “coming out” being ridiculous because heterosexuality is the assumed “default.”

The film is also a rollercoaster ride as we follow along with Spier as he tries to identify who his mystery Blue is. Berlanti masters the ability to make the anonymous Blue come to life as more than just words in an email by changing actors periodically. Each time Spier thinks he may know who Blue is, his face and voice changes to correspond to that specific boy.

The reveal is both suspenseful and beautiful, with people in the theater audibly gasping in disbelief and denial when he came up. The cheers when the real Blue revealed himself were beautiful as we got to witness these two souls that fell in love without ever meeting in person, finally seeing each other.

The film’s music (curated by Bleachers’ frontman Jack Antonoff) is also spot on, with new and old songs. However, it is disappointing to see only one LGBTQ artist, Troye Sivan, on the soundtrack.

Still, Sivan’s “Strawberries and Cigarettes” is the perfect anthem for the film, as he is an advocate for LGBTQ rights. 

“Love, Simon” is also timely with its pop culture references to “Game of Thrones,” Panic! at the Disco and Grindr, yet will certainly retain an element of timelessness just as other teenage films have, due to its honest portrayal of high school seniors.

“I’m done living in a world where I don’t get to be who I am. I deserve a great love story.”

And he does.

Spier’s words are not just an addition to his blog post, but also a call to the real world. There are so many stories that deserve to be told, and quite frankly, it took much too long for a major film studio in Hollywood to come out with a film like this.

Even before its release, “Love, Simon” helped several people involved with the film come out in celebration of the film’s impact.

Leading man Nick Robinson said he was able to connect more with his brother who came out around the same time he was filming. Robinson’s co-star Keiynan Lonsdale, who plays Abraham “Bram” Greenfeld, came out to the public as bisexual a few weeks after filming finished in May 2017. Joey Pollari, who plays Lyle, also came out on Tuesday and said Spier’s journey was similar to his own.

“Love, Simon” is both a sigh of relief and a fist pump in the air as it is the film the LGBT+ community needs right now.

So often, gay characters have been subject to tragedy in television and films with the “bury your gays” trope. Finally, there is a sweet, happy love story for a gay character on the big screen from a major film studio. And it’s long overdue. 

Featured Image: Courtesy 20th Century Fox

About Author

Zaira Perez

Zaira Perez

Senior News Writer

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