The theater is packed with loving families who want to support each other, individuals who need to feel connected with their community, couples that are eager to watch their feelings reflected, and friends who can relate to the joys and downfalls in the movie that’s about to begin. The lights dim, the previews roll, and once the opening monologue begins, every single person in the theater is transported back to the first moment they realized they felt different.
This was the experience I had while watching the new 2018 movie, “Love, Simon.” The story follows a high school student, Simon, as he comes to terms with being gay and falls in love with an anonymous student at his school. As a member of the LGBTQ+ community who grew up in a small town and came out in high school, this film could not have been more relatable. While there are cities like Los Angeles or New York that are known for their representation and acceptance of the LGBTQ+ community, it can sometimes be harder to come out in smaller towns or more rural areas.
To say that “Love, Simon” is an important cultural milestone in cinema is an understatement. Hardly before has a gay teen romantic comedy movie with a gay main character been backed by a major film studio with a nationwide release. Oftentimes, movies with openly gay characters are underfunded and are difficult to find in local theatres making them virtually inaccessible to young people that may feel the need to see their lives reflected on-screen.
Many celebrities have recognized just how valuable this story is to young people who can relate to Simon’s situations. Some celebrities, such as Matt Bomer and Tyler Oakley, have even gone out of their way to buy out movie theater screenings of the film to allow people to watch it cost-free. In just searching #LoveSimon on twitter, there are countless stories of people being inspired to come out to their families after seeing the movie.
When reviewing the film for the online publication Alt Philanthropy, Maya Chandler Barksdale wrote, “In my book we go to the movies for three reasons: to experience someone’s story, to give us hope, and to be uplifted. ‘Love, Simon’ completes these three things.”
And she couldn’t have been more right. This story is the coming-of-age tale that the LGBTQ+ community has been needing. It is the story that can remind us of the first time we felt a little out of place at a school dance or sleepover, and the first time we felt loved and accepted for being our authentic selves.
For those who can relate to Simon’s story or feel unaccepted for being their true selves, I encourage you to find an LGBTQ+ Center near to you for resources. The Trevor Project is always available to remind you that who you are is wonderful and deserving of love and acceptance. “Love, Simon” is here to tell you that if you’ve been holding your breath, waiting for the moment to arrive when you can finally feel comfortable loving whomever it is that you love, “you can exhale now.”