I just got back home from the movies. I'm normally not a movie person, personally. Movies tend to be about heteronormative romances on the side of some other quirk designed to sell tickets for whatever special effects the industry wants to show off this time. Okay, maybe that's a tad unfair because I'm not a movie person, but that's how I generally view them. And it's not like I dislike every movie. But mostly I stick to Disney movies. That has changed lately as I am now a bus ride or a decent walk away from a movie theater these days. And hey, I actually have an income now, so I can actually justify going out to enjoy my life. I digress.
When I first heard that this movie was about a gay romance with a PG-13 rating, I pretty much knew I was going to see it. LGBT movies tend to be too trashy or too heartbreaking or too esoteric for me to notice. Granted I haven't seen too many of them, but in general none of them really quite fit. It's kind of like "even when it's LGBT oriented it still doesn't really pertain to me." Maybe I've just seen the wrong movies.
So my experience started when I first entered the theater. I was second in line at the ticket booth. I had gotten there about twenty minutes before the theater opened for the afternoon (they open 15 minutes before the first movie is scheduled to air). After I got a small soda and popcorn, I was the first person in the theater. Now, I live in a more conservative area so I honestly wasn't sure if anyone else was going to show (even though it was opening weekend for Love, Simon).
The first group to walk in was this group of teenagers. Not wanting to be a total creep, I didn't make eye contact, something I rarely do with anyone I don't personally know, and I browsed my phone. I couldn't help overhearing them, however. They were talking about whether or not they had come out to their family. Most of them had, but one of them said they hadn't. "My mom thinks I'm confused." One of them said and in response their friend said "Hahaha, it's cute that [she] thinks that." They talked about their orientations "I'm pan." "I'm grey asexual" and so on. One of them made a point to say that none of their group was heterosexual.
This struck a chord with me. I had known there were other kids who were out when I was going to school. I decided to remain closeted for a long period of my life. I went through most of my younger days dealing with everything on my own. It was difficult at the time. It made me really happy just to overhear these young adults. Throughout the entire movie they were reacting (just like I was) to the events onscreen.
Most of the people who came in after that seemed to be young women. There was one elderly couple.
One thing the theater seemed to lack were problematic men. That suited me just fine.
After the previews aired, the countdown for the movie started. I honestly didn't realize how excited I was to see this movie until just before it started. I was really optimistic. For the first time ever, t h e... f i r s t... t i m e... e v e r, I felt like I was seeing a movie that was made for someone like me. Even if I wound up not liking the movie, which I knew was a very real possibility, I knew that this was something that I never had before. Going to the movie theater to see a movie about a gay teen as the average joe. I never thought I'd have that experience, so to actually have it... I don't even know what words to use to describe how that felt.
As for the movie? Well, without spoiling anything, I have to say I really enjoyed it. I wish I had seen a movie like this one when I was still a questioning teenager. It touches base on a fair amount of issues that I personally related to, even if they weren't exactly the same situations. There was more than one scene where I felt like "Oh, Simon, I feel you, bro" and there was definitely more than one scene that got an emotional reaction out of me. In my opinion this movie doesn't waste a single minute of its screen time.
There are topics that this movie covers quite well. How Simon thinks it's unfair that only LGBT+ people are the ones to come out is one of my favorite highlights. It shows his straight friends coming out to their families that they're straight with their families being overly dramatic with their reactions. "You get that from your father!" or the mother breaking down into tears. It takes a very sensitive issue and makes it hilarious. My therapist once told me a way he tries to get non-gay people to understand what he went through was to ask them to imagine an alternate universe where being gay is considered normal and that being straight is considered unusual. Love, Simon accomplished something similar in one of the simplest and most beautiful ways in my opinion.
It also shows how Simon deals with being blackmailed and eventually being outed. Granted I've never been blackmailed over my orientation, but I have been outed. The scene where he breaks down is very relatable. The scene where he confronts the person who outed him was one I wish I had with the person who outed me. Simon essentially tells this idiot that coming out was supposed to be on his terms, that it was something he was supposed to do on his own and that he was robbed of it. I felt entirely the same way when it happened to me.
There was also the moment when Simon decided to come out to a friend on his own terms, a friend he had only known for a few months. When his friend of 13 years asks him why he didn't tell her, Simon explained that it was easier because if he told her it would have changed everything for him. When I first came out, it was to Kohaku on bzpower. After that it was other online friends here, ones I hadn't known that long. It took me quite a bit more guts to come out my first friend irl, and I hadn't known her that long. Longer still I came out to my brothers. Coming out to them was the most challenging and where I had the most anxiety with my overall coming out experience.
The movie also holds Simon accountable for actions he took which were problematic. Basically how he handled his blackmail. It is a difficult situation he was put into, but when his friends confront him about lying and manipulating them, I think it is entirely fair. It is still a difficult scene to watch because a lot goes wrong for Simon at this point in the movie and I really did feel for him, but I think it was important that Simon was not portrayed a simple victim in this movie. His friends don't pity him enough to let his actions slide, and even though I personally understood why Simon chose to do what he did, I also recognize that he isn't blameless and could have handled things better. But handling things poorly is part of being a teen and growing up. I know I've messed up my fair share of times, and one of the things I liked about this movie was that he grew as a person and learned by the end of the film.
My only big two criticisms were I wanted to see more of Blue, Simon's love interest. He comes in at the end and I honestly can't remember his name. It is a shame too because he is a very interesting character and all we get of him are the emails he sends to Simon. And to be fair, that does work to the movie's benefit and puts us in Simon's shoes. And this movie is by all means about Simon and his journey. I'm personally just craving more on this end.
The other thing was... well everything wrapped up neatly with a satisfying ending within two hours. And this is something I have conflicting feelings towards. On one hand, issues like these... coming out to your family, finding a boyfriend, being outed... They don't resolve themselves completely in the span of a movie. For me they have lasted years and still continue to last, unresolved and unsatisfied. But, and this is important, I think for today's teens seeing that it is possible for things to work out is important. People can be gay and happy. Being outed isn't the end of the world. You can have a fallout with your friends and then reconcile and work past things. Those breakdowns don't last forever. And that's the message I wish I had seen when I was a teenager telling myself I would never be happy, that it was impossible. By god, I think today's youth deserves that much.
There are so many more subjects this movie covers and just... I think it did a fantastic job, personally.
After the movie my head was filled with so many thoughts. This was an incredible experience and all it took was one movie that did a good job representing someone like me.