Let's travel back to Christmas Eve 2017. I've got a bag with two nights worth of clothes ready for a Christmas staycation! A group of my closest friends and I have gone to the cinema at Disney Springs to see The Greatest Showman.
Whilst waiting for the movie to start, we see the trailers of movies to come. Within that, I see the trailer for Love, Simon. In that very moment, my jaw falls to the floor. A 20th Century Fox, Hollywood blockbuster budget movie, about a coming-of-age gay guy... And I just watched the trailer in a cinema?! I couldn't believe how happy just seeing the trailer made me.
I've been excited about this movie for some time but when someone suggested I read the book, I actually did. For me, reading isn't something I enjoy. I'd much rather write a book than read one. I always see reading as work and something that needs time to be allocated for. So much so that if I'm reading a book and by the third chapter or so I'm not invested, that's it; I'm done. Simon Vs The Homosapien Agenda (the name of the book) however, was the first book that I fell into and didn't put down.
It's portrayal of a young guy learning who he is, building up the confidence to come out and fall in love, resonated within my heart and had me grinning from ear to ear. There are some lines in the book that made me howl and by the end of it, I felt a little warmer inside than before. If you're a fan of reading, I can imagine this is a regular occurrence with the right book but for me, it's the first book I enjoyed reading. Not just, liked the book at the end but the process of reading it was everything I hadn't realised could be enjoyable. It's with that I wholeheartedly recommend reading the book.
Which brings me to the Love, Simon movie. I've never read a book first and then seen a movie adaptation of it. And no, not even the case with Harry Potter (shock horror). That in-itself was an experience for me, seeing the characters that were kept, modified or removed all-together. The little tweaks that were made to make the story work on-screen and those tiny details that I remembered from the book that made me go 'oh yeah!'
Coming out is a big thing for most LGBT+ persons, which is why I think this film is resonating on a personal level with so many people. However, for me the connection I make with the film is on a slightly different level.
Coming out for me was done at a relatively young age and for the most part was uneventful to the scale of other people's stories. If you've seen the film, my experience is closer to Ethan's than it is to Simon's. It took some time for certain family members to come around to accepting that part of me but I count myself lucky for having driven the 'coming out train' pretty well.
The real struggle I had as a teen and young adult (and partially still to this day), is the notion of love. I grew up in a village in the middle of nowhere. I was the only out kid in a school of 3,000. No one could ever really connect with my story, my process in learning who I was or how isolated I felt not knowing another person like me. Forever feeling 'weird' as the character Leah mentions in the film. It wasn't until I was 17 and could drive, that I began seeing the world and went on my first date.
I'm not sure that even at the age of 24 years-old, I've ever been in love with someone. Sure I've experienced unrequited love, me falling for the cute straight guy at school was everything I didn't need throughout puberty. But Love, Simon fills a little gap in my heart. It's the love story I always wanted but never got. It's the love story I never knew possible.
If you watch my vlogs, you'll know that I make a regular joke out of just how single I am. Whilst I'm perfectly happy being single, I think it's a real insecurity of mine. I fear I'm destined to be single for the rest of my days and try my best to tell myself it's my own doing. Making a joke of it I think is my coping mechanism. In my mind, I know it's down to circumstance and the people I've met and if I'm single forever, so be it! In my heart-of-hearts however, it's this little space that when I go to it, just makes me feel a little sad.
I'm very lucky. I have wonderful friends that I can call on, my family may drive me mad sometimes but they're pretty good as families go and I've had successes I never thought ever possible; of which I'm super proud of myself for having accomplished. Love however, is just an idea to me right now. Before Love, Simon, I don't think I've ever seen something that can honestly and without being 'stereotypically gay,' show me what could be possible for me.
I just got back from watching it for the second time and it's only after reliving the experience that I can affirm that this movie is everything I needed 10 years ago and everything I didn't know I needed now. I left the cinema today with a fresh dose of happiness and hope. Too often do I hear a little voice in my head say 'what's wrong with you?' and 'how can you change?' Well, to that little voice I now say 'fuck off.' This is me loosening that insecurity and telling myself to be a little more positive in my outlook of love and relationships. I am what I am. A hopeless romantic, whose desire to connect with someone as much as Jaques and Blue (film reference) is perfectly valid. I am worthy of someone's time and I deserve someone to care for me just as much as I care for them. Anything less than that, I'm just kidding myself to try and cover-up that little sad space I know to be all to real.
Love, Simon is an important step on the climb to acceptance and representation of people like me, like my friends and maybe even you there reading this. It's just another film. It's not a token gay film, it's not a movement, it's just another film. That's what makes it so incredible. It's doing what we should all do; treating a person's sexuality as just part of the everyday and showing a story that deserves to be told regardless of what may be considered 'the default.'
I'm not going to tell you to see this movie. I'm just going to recommend you do. It's just another film. One that meant something to me, means a lot to a huge number of young people and is the movie you might need right now regardless of your own place in this world.
I will still look forward to that day when I can look someone in the eyes and feel at home. Thanks to this movie however, I now have some gumption behind that idea. Love, Simon wasn't a coming out story for me. It was a love story. A love story that I needed growing up, that I need today and that others will need in the future.
We're all deserving of love. It's only now however, I know those words to be true for me.
Moooorning! The idea of living basically in Walt Disney World is a very exciting prospect for most avid visitors of the resort. However, take it from someone who's spent nearly two years living in Walt Disney World, the novelty does wear off in some respect. There's real magic in the process of missing Disney and looking forward to a trip that makes being there, even more special.
A realisation I came to at the end of my international program with Disney and something I mention in my recent vlog, was that missing Disney, makes it more magical. Going through the process of missing it, longing for it, reminiscing about it and watching vlogs about it, make the actual time you do spend there so more precious! On a Disney holiday, you'll spend some moments soaking up the magic, planting memories for yourself and appreciating every moment. When you live in the Orlando area, you don't do this nearly as much because you can come back whenever you like!
So if you're currently longing to be in Walt Disney World, never fear! The process you're going through is going to make the time you really are there so much more magical! Here's my tips for missing Disney and how to get excited about your upcoming or hopeful trip.
2.DON'T OVER PLAN
It's all well and good getting so excited that you start planning out each day, each hour, each fastpass and each restaurant. The problem however in doing so is that it takes away from relaxing on your holiday. Especially when you're tied to a strict schedule of meal by meal and ride by ride.
Of course, plan some reservations and fastpasses but also block out time for no plans. Allow some in the moment magic to happen, such as playing the reservation lottery to see what's available on the day (there's often more than you think). Down time is important too, so this blocked out time could serve as a way for you to do nothing but lounge around the hotel. I'm a planner myself, so believe me when I say I learnt this lesson the hard way.
3. SWITCH OFF BEFORE BED
I am so guilty of not doing this one. When I'm trying to go to sleep is when my imagination and excitement run WILD! However, it means that it takes so much longer for me to get to sleep because I'm so excited about what could be possible at Disney!
Don't let a Disney vlog be the last thing you watch before going to bed. I actually tend to watch Disney vlogs as a way to start my day and get my energy levels up. Relax in the bath with one in the evening sure (that's one of my favourite pass times) but just take some time to bring your excitement down before heading to bed. No one needs sleepless nights in the lead up to a Disney trip. You're going to need that energy big time!
4. PLAN AHEAD FOR MISSING DISNEY
It's no secret that I vlog my Disney trips. The reason I even started doing it was because I can never remember what happened on any given day whilst I'm away. Vlogging lets me remember how fantastic my trip was in incredible detail. Each clip is enough to remind me what happened before and after that clip was filmed.
Whilst vlogging is a great way to remember the magic whilst you're missing Disney, I like to create little magical treats to enjoy whilst away from Disney!
For example, the hot chocolate at the Disney resorts is one of my favourite Disney drinks. Now if you know where to go on property, some resorts actually provide the hot chocolate in sachets, rather than the machine. These are great for taking home and treating yourself whilst watching a Disney vlog at home. Rice crispy treats work well for this too.
Food and drink is all well and good but the magic of Disney is trapped in the smells for me. The Grand Floridian is a favourite smell of mine and Bath and Body Works sell a seasonal foaming soap that smells just like it! It's normally out around Christmas (as long as it hasn't been discontinued) and is called 'Iced Eucalyptus with Shea Extract.' It has me taking sniffs of my hands for longer than I should after using it. Another smell I love to literally bottle up is the hand soap smell. Whilst most Americans may find this commercial soap in most public places, the marzipan aroma is unique for us visiting Brits. On my last trip I took an empty travel toiletry bottle and filled her up! One of the best decisions I've ever made!
I also consciously make smells that'll trigger a memory and can take home. For example at Disney Springs, in Basin they have a fantastic hand wash sink with lovely salt scrubs. Whenever I'm there, I pop in to use the Pink Sugar one. That in turn helps me associate the smell with Disney Springs since it sticks around for over an hour on your now silky smooth hands. I bought it a couple of trips ago and it works wonders! You can find some online candle shops that claim to offer a smell from Disney but for me they never 100% hit the mark.
5. WATCH THE RIGHT VLOGS
There are hundreds of Disney vlog series' on YouTube. Granted, YouTube will only let you find a handful of them via searching; but views don't mean everything. It's often the case that the vlogs that appear first when you search for Disney vlogs on YouTube are vlogs that have the right title for YouTube's algorithm to pick up, they have a large subscriber base but that's their only Disney vlog or they're genuinely popular for people watching the whole vlog. However, some of the smaller Disney vloggers have the best vlogs! You can often find them easier by filtering your search by posting date.
What makes a great Disney vlog series for me is when the vlogger keeps in the nostalgic noises I love and keeps me engaged. The voice over on the MCO tram, the sound of 'Mr Morrow, Mr. Tomorrow' on the Peoplemover and the parade music are just some of my favourites. I film Disney vlogs based on what I like watching myself. I like to show you enough to help you remember your favourite parts and feel immersed but I'm not going to bore you with the entire Beauty and the Beast Musical. Plus if that's what you like, there are other channels that have filmed the entire show much better than I ever could, hand holding my camera for the whole thing.
So go Disney vlog crazy sure! However, take the time to find the smaller YouTubers as well, they sometimes have the BEST Disney vlogs. Additionally, it's always good to help bring someone up who's doing it because they enjoy doing it as their main motive. I'm beginning to start spotlighting some smaller vloggers I love on my Twitter, so hop on over for a couple of suggestions on my feed already (@adamhattan). Additionally, if you're new and haven't yet seen some of my own Disney vlogs, you can sit back and miss Disney some more by clicking here.
Thank you so much for reading, you'll find all my social links in the footer below, like and share if you enjoyed reading and I will see you next time!