A Very Gay Movie You Very Much Need to See
Updated: Sep 8, 2018
I’ve already seen Love, Simon twice. I think it’s my favorite movie of all time. Here’s why.
Every once in a while, a piece of gay media will pop up in a burst of rainbow excellence and take my world by storm. Most people (read: straight people) tend not to think about how a vast majority of popular media is focused on heterosexual characters, just as I (as a white person) often tend to forget that a vast majority of popular media is focused on white characters. When you are part of the majority, you’re sometimes blind to the struggles of the minority.
Love, Simon is a gamechanger. This movie is “popular,” in the sense that it was made by a major studio and is being promoted in major channels throughout the media. In short, it’s a gay rom-com being treated like… well, like a straight rom-com. It’s refreshing.
Gay media is often treated like a niche product - it’s typically created by LGBT people, then marketed specifically to LGBT people. Sometimes this is by design, but sometimes it’s merely due to the fact that LGBT people are going to gravitate more toward LGBT content, whereas straight people will not.
Take Call Me By Your Name, for instance. That book/movie is artsy, intelligent, and beautiful - which makes it niche to begin with. Add in the fact that it centers on a gay love story and it becomes even more niche. That movie got a lot of press due to its nominations for some of the major award shows, but it wasn’t mass marketed - it was played in select theatres in select areas where select people saw it. It was popular for a certain audience, but I would guess that a majority of people haven’t seen it - especially a majority of straight people.
That’s where I think Love, Simon is different. It’s not that the story itself is more deserving of attention (because, let’s be honest, I would be willing to die for even the crappiest of tales that star an LGBT protagonist), but it isn’t being treated like a niche product for an LGBT audience. It’s just being treated like a movie that people should go see, regardless of their personal identity.
Let’s talk about the story, though. I must admit, I went into this movie with low expectations. I read the book the movie was based off of (which is called Simon vs. The Homosapiens Agenda - not the best movie title, hence the name change) and I wasn’t too impressed. It was enjoyable, but it wasn’t one of the best things I had ever read. I expected the movie to be a somewhat shitty romantic comedy, but I was going to love it anyway because it was a somewhat shitty romantic comedy that also happened to be very gay.
However. The movie is nothing short of fantastic. I walked out of the theater after seeing it for the first time with the world’s biggest smile on my face. It’s hilarious, first of all - I almost never laugh out loud at movies, but I think I cackled like a witch a minimum of five (5) times throughout this film. The characters spark with a liveliness that doesn’t come across at all in the book, but set my heart on fire in the film. It also made me cry… like, four times. In the best possible way.
Something that a lot of gay people struggle with is seeing ourselves in popular media. We can always find pieces of ourselves in straight stories - aspects of our personality, wrong decisions we’ve made, lessons we’ve learned - but there is always something missing. The reason I’m tearing up in the middle of the library as I write this (dramatic, yet true) is because I left that movie having fully seen myself, possibly for the very first time, in a major film.
I’m not saying that every gay person can see themselves in Simon. He’s an attractive, white gay male with an accepting family and loving friends. Not all of us have that. Some of us are black, some of us are bi, some of us are trans, some of us are poor, some of us are all of those things at once - but I think all of us will be able to see some aspect of ourselves in Simon. He’s not the perfect representative for the LGBT community, but he’s a very good start.
I am endlessly happy that LGBT teens will have this movie. If I would have been able to see this movie as a teenager, it might have had the power to change the trajectory of my life. I may have been brave enough to come out sooner, or I may have been quicker to love myself for who I was rather than let myself think that I was wrong. Representation is important, more so than most people realize.
Here’s why you should see this movie, especially if you are straight: it will help you to empathize with the LGBT community. It will show you what it’s like to go through what we go through. You still won’t be able to fully understand it, but you will be able to see the little things we face, day in and day out. This movie conquers Simon’s first big “coming out” story, which is tragic and ultimately beautiful, but that isn’t the end of the struggle in real life. Gay people are forced to “come out” nearly every day - whenever we meet someone new, we have to expose ourselves all over again with the risk of a snap judgment from the other person.
But. The beauty of this movie is that it isn’t about Simon being gay, or Simon coming out. It’s about Simon the person. Simon, the guy who loves his family. Simon, the guy who sometimes lets down his best friends but loves them with his entire heart. Simon, the guy who struggles romantically and sometimes figures it all out. This movie humanizes gay people and shows the world that being gay isn’t what defines us - being human is.
Give this movie a chance. You won’t regret it.
PS - the soundtrack was curated by Jack Antonoff and it features songs from Troye Sivan, MO, Bleachers, Amy Shark, and more. It’s probably the best movie soundtrack I’ve ever heard. I’ll be getting lost in the 80’s synths for the rest of my life, if you need me.