"Two for 'Love, Simon' please."
The underpaid high school student swiped my credit card, asked my sister and me to pick our seats, and handed us our tickets. As we walked into the theater, my little sister nudged me and whispered, “Twenty gay-teen.” The usher ripped the stub off of our ticket and gestured behind him, “Theater two.” My sister and I were buzzing with excitement. So excited, in fact, that we danced every step towards the theater.
We found our seats—front row, dead center—and got comfy. My sister leaned over again and both of us chanted the mantra once more: “Twenty gay-teen. Twenty gay-teen. Twenty gay-teen.”
AMC theaters. Friday, March 16, 2018. 5:00pm. The lights dim. My sister squeezes my hand.
At that point, I had absolutely no idea how much this film was going to mean to me. Boy, was I in for a surprise.
I am a gay trans man. That’s a double whammy right there. Not only do people have to understand that my gender assigned at birth is not the gender I am, they also have to understand that I am a man who likes men. Should be easy to explain, right? Well, not really.
See, there is something deep within the core of a human being that likes things the way one currently understands them. Understands such as marriage is between one woman and one man. Gender is black and white. There is no war in Ba Sing Se.
This thinking puts me and millions of other LBGT+ people in a box. People usually don’t like having their understandings of the way the world works challenged. When they see something that goes against these understandings, they resist.
Facing this potential resistance has been my biggest fear for years. I didn’t let myself be open. I hid. I refused to be vulnerable.
Until I sat in that theater and I watched Simon Spier do exactly what I had been so, so afraid to do. Fifteen minutes into the movie, he acknowledges he’s gay. An hour in, he comes out to his friend. By the end of the movie, he's openly gay.
Sitting there in the theater and hearing Simon acknowledge he's gay, I immediately burst into tears. I didn't stop until the credits rolled. Then, I went home and cried again.
Simon and I have a lot of things in common. We both have a little sister we adore, drive our friends around, and drink way too much iced coffee while gorging on carbs. And we're both gay.
This movie taught me one very important thing: Simon and I are both normal. It's normal to be gay. It's normal to like boys. It's normal for me to love and accept myself.
"Love, Simon" isn't the first gay movie. However, it's the first happy gay movie. It's the first movie that treats being gay as a normal thing, not a tragedy. It's the first movie that I could look on the screen and see me. I have never related to a character as much as I relate to Simon Spier.
"Love, Simon" took my hand and showed me it was OK to open up and allow myself to be who I am. There is nothing about me to be ashamed of, nothing I should have to hide. I am who I am and that's OK. If other people wanted to resist, well, tough for them. "Love, Simon" reminded me that the people who cannot and willingly refuse to understand past their own bigoted views shouldn't have any control over my identity and my own happiness.
This realization was so comforting and so validating that I could not stop the tears from flowing. There's a quote from that movie that will stick with me for the rest of my life:
"You get to be a lot more you than you have been in a while." I'm ready to be me. I'm ready to be the most me I can possibly be.
When the credits started rolling and the lights came back on, my sister and I looked at each other with tear stained eyes. We stood up and embraced each other tightly. We didn't let go until the only noise in the theater was the clean-up crew sweeping stray popcorn into a dustpan. Then, we walked out hand in hand.
"That was the best movie I've ever seen." She laughed.
"Yea." I smiled wider than I had in a long time, "Yea it really was."