SPOILER WARNING: This article goes into some of the plot of “Love, Simon,” but avoids major spoilers.
Oh, to be young and in love – and secretly gay.
“Love, Simon” intertwines common LGBT narratives – coming out, falling in love and finding acceptance – into one big cheesy rom-com made for a group of people who haven’t gotten to see their story in the foreground. LGBT youth get to see what’s it like to be come out in a modern and (somewhat) more accepting world. On the other end, older queer folk get to sink themselves in the nostalgia of their own coming out days; both the good and the bad.
But not everyone had the chance to live these experiences like Simon did. Nor does this movie encapsulate the much darker fears of coming out – loss of home, mental illness, physical safety – for LGBT youth. It also lacks an understanding of the experiences of LGBT people of color and LGBT people of different socioeconomic backgrounds.
But beyond that, Simon’s coming out isn’t about the events or experiences he witnessed. it is about the feelings that drive him to become who he wants to become.
And we all know those feelings.
Simon’s experience is the story we’ve always wanted. To few, it’s the story they lived. To others, it’s the story we imagined in our heads but never came to witness.
There are Lyles, strangers that gave us our first sly, yet fully awakening smile. There are Alexises, friends with whom we shared our secret for the very first time. There are Leahs, loved ones that we care for so deeply until we realize that the love they give to us is much more romantic than we can ever reciprocate. There are welcoming parents, who always ask awkward and stuttering questions, but never pry again until we’re ready and then they shower us with love. There are Ethans, the out-and-proud peers that we relish with distaste and jealousy in the same breathe. There are Martins, the orchestrators who wilfully or accidentally change our narratives permanently without our permission.
We don’t get all of these characters in our real or make-believe coming out stories. Some don’t have a Lyle, an Alexis, a Martin, an Ethan or an accepting family.
But we all have a Blue.
This is first person that gave us a chance in this new, terrifying and exhilarating “out” world. The person that made your heart shudder for the first time, which gave you so much fear and worry until you realize this is the feeling you’ve been searching for since you realized you were different. Blue is the person that gives you an answer to all of your questions about, “Is this just a phase?” or “How can I know I’m gay if I haven’t even dated someone?” or better yet “Am I really gay?”
Blue is all of that and so much more. It feels that so much weighs on the moment at the bottom of the roller coaster, where you don’t know if Simon’s first love will make or break his heart.
Somewhere on that roller coaster, as Simon waits for Blue to show up without any guarantee, there is hope. There is fear and worry and it sometimes rips us away from doing what we really want.
But “Love, Simon” tears down that fear and lets us live in that hope. We might not have had our fairytale Blue ending, and that’s OK. Our Blues may be a distant memory or a special someone that we took to see this coming-of-age film.
Yet our Blues gave us hope. More importantly, Simon gave himself hope. A hope to one day hope for something more, something bigger, something better in the future.
Maybe that something better includes another color-coordinated Whitney Houston flash mob on his first day in gay college. Just maybe.
Teresa Cardenas is a think-piece writer for WC Reviews