‘Love, Simon’ and the Importance of LGBT Rom-Coms
After having seen Love, Simon – the first LGBT+ film to be distributed by a major studio, 20th Century Fox, (who deserve props for bringing the film to life) it has come to my attention that there is a complaint against the adaptation of Becky Abertalli’s book, which is that it is too happy, too much of a fantasy. I’m here to point out why while that is true, it ultimately serves as a good thing and enhanced my viewing experience of the movie tenfold.
There are spoilers for Love, Simon ahead, so if you haven’t seen the film I suggest you leave and come back after seeing it. And I think you should see it. It’s a wonderful piece of art, one of the best films depicting the LGBT+ experience and the process of coming out I’ve ever seen. Based heavily on John Hughes, the film balances comedy and dark subject matter expertly. Go watch it, and then return.
Alright. Still here? Well, let’s get rolling.
At the end of Love, Simon, Simon Spier is very publicly outed by one of his classmates, the unassuming, unpopular Martin Addison, who throughout the entire film had been blackmailing him – if Simon hooked Martin up with their friend Abby, played by Storm actress Alexandra Shipp, then he wouldn’t tell the school about Simon’s sexuality, which he had discovered by reading through Simon’s anonymous emails with another closeted gay kid at the school, under the moniker of “Blue”. When Abby turns Martin down at a football game, Martin retaliates by telling the entire school about Simon’s sexuality.
Though things seem down at first, we quickly realize that no one is going to penalize Simon for his sexuality. Both his parents accept him, very quickly, as do all his friends. Then, Simon is inspired to announce to the world that he is living in his truth, and that he wants Blue to be able to do the same. The climactic scene of the movie takes place on a Ferris wheel, where Simon waits for Blue to reveal his identity. For a while it doesn’t look like Blue will show up, but then he does – and it’s Simon’s friend Bram Greenfield, played by The Flash‘s Keiynan Lonsdale. Their friends are there to cheer them on, and they pretty much run off into the sunset, happily ever after.
People have complained that this ending is disingenuous. How can no one have a problem with Simon’s sexuality? Shouldn’t the film shine a light on real LGBT+ teens, who are some of the most discriminated-against people in the country? Well, I have four words for you, buddy – LGBT+ teens are teens.
Gay kids are kids, too. They want to go to the movies, forget about all the problems in their lives and just immerse themselves in a good story that makes them laugh, makes them feel good and is without any triggering stress. And Love, Simon is that. We’ve had movies about the LGBT+ struggle, several of them. Blackbird, Moonlight, Pariah, Milk, Carol. Each of these films took a specific issue within the gay community and dramatized it, providing a beautiful story while also speaking to a systemic problem. But straight people get romantic comedies all the time. Why can’t we? Who’s to say I want to cry every time I watch a film that represents me? Maybe I want to laugh, or smile.
Also, I would like to point out that Love, Simon isn’t without its dark moments. There are several scenes in the film that brought a tear to my eye, and that might trigger LGBT+ fans of the film who are watching. Simon is forcibly outed, which is never okay despite what the response of your family might be. Several kids at the school bully another gay kid, Ethan, played by Clark Moore (excellently, I might add), using homophobic slurs. Simon is turned on by his friends, the very people he expects to trust him. It isn’t all sunshine and rainbows, friends. There’s complexity and depth.
But what’s more, Love, Simon shows the good in humanity. In today’s blockbusters, we’ve been clamoring for hope, heart and optimism. Well, Love, Simon has all those things. Sure, it may seem like a bit of a fantasy, but what’s wrong with that? Straight people have these sorts of movies all the time. Films are supposed to be an escape, a chance to get away from whatever problems you’re having in the world and spend two hours in a different world, with different characters. LGBT+ people deserve to feel good when they leave the theater – and thanks to Love, Simon, I’m done keeping my story straight.