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.