“You can exhale now.”
Being called the most significant film ever, Love, Simon has contributed a lot to the conversation regarding coming out and how to find acceptance in that. The film has also done a bit more than just being a coming-of-age “gay film.” It has helped people find the strength to be proud of who they are in a world that can be harsh towards these differences.
Nick Robinson stars as Simon Spier, a 17-year-old high school student who has yet to come out as gay to his family and friends. Simon starts a flirtatious online correspondence with “Blue,” an alias for another closeted student at his school, and spends most of the movie trying to find out who Blue is and protecting his secret from a classmate threatening to out him when he finds Simon’s emails. High school is seen as a place where young teens are starting to forge their identities and adjust to the changes happening all around them. Regarding coming to terms with sexuality, it can be a difficult and oftentimes scary road to navigate through. It takes a lot of courage and confidence to affirm that this is who you are, and to be able to say how proud you are of yourself for saying it out loud is an amazing thing. While Simon has the right to come out on his own terms compromised, kudos nonetheless can be given to him for making this realization about himself.
The film does a great job depicting how to handle when a teen comes out, particularly when looking at the parents. Simon’s parents, played by Josh Duhamel and Jennifer Garner, are both warm and accepting of Simon. The film shows how each parent individually processes Simon’s coming out. Garner’s scene with Robinson was the most captivating performance in the entire film. Her character reiterates Simon’s previous statement that he is still the same person he has always been, and adds on that he gets to be “more him than he has been in a very long time” and he “deserves everything he wants.” These words are so powerful for another person to hear. Even if it does not have to do with coming out, people can feel validated by them and told they are loved unconditionally. Those facing hardships in their lives do deserve what they want because they have had to suffer in silence and without help for so long. A universal message is conveyed that we all deserve love and happiness.
Simon's father shows a different perspective to accepting a child. Many parents want their children to succeed and have this image of them in a heterosexual relationship. It was natural for Duhamel’s character to feel disheartened upon seeing that image of Simon disintegrate when he came out, being that he has such a close relationship with his son and kids around with him about girls like fathers tend to do. Duhamel’s scene has him saying he never suspected anything different about Simon, then understands there was never anything different about him, to begin with. Parents who see the film are in luck to have adults present who have such a positive impact on their child. Unfortunately, there are cases where parents are not so understanding of their child’s decision to come out or of other issues such as mental illness or self-esteem. Duhamel and Garner indirectly advise parents how in times like these, children rely on their parents during these crucial moments and simply need to be told that they are loved no matter what.
I am particularly keen on the amount of representation the film has. For example, the film’s characters vary in race and religion. This is so important for viewers to have characters that resemble them to expose to them that there are people in the world who are X, Y, and Z; the film allows groups who are underrepresented to be given a chance for their voices to be heard. Ironically, Simon also does not fit the stereotypical gay male despite being the straight man of the movie. His portrayal is important to tell people that not all LGBTQ+ act the way they are depicted in the media. They are human with real dreams, flaws, emotions, and most of all, deserve to be treated equally.
Love, Simon informs viewers of the power in being able to tell your own story. Having the film told from Simon’s point of view takes us very deep into his journey in a digital and real-life landscape. The online conversations between Simon and Blue are taking place in what for them is a safe space to express themselves to each other. Today, the Internet has become a place for youth to connect with each other in order to find peers going through similar situations and look for signs of hope, tips for coping, relationships, etc. When Simon is outed, he has to revert back to interpersonal relationships to preserve his story. It is an opportunity for him to bring to light what he has kept hidden for so long — pieces of what he has shared with Blue. Individuals like Simon who have to resort to alternative means of communicating with people who relate to them find themselves more stressed over how to reintroduce themselves after making their issues known, such as coming out publicly.
It should be emphasized that the environment should not be forcing people out of it based on dismay for their choices or feelings. Rather, acceptance is needed more than ever to let these people know there is absolutely nothing wrong with where they wish their lives to go and there are ways of dealing with things out of their control. Such encouragement can help make the person’s story even better and even leave it with a happy ending.
Love, Simon has changed the game in the way LGBTQ+ and individuals that feel out of touch with society to be given the bravery to redefine their roles. Coming out needs to be approached with the sense that it is people taking charge of their lives in the pursuit of self-honesty. In other cases where people do not feel they fall in a certain group or cannot overcome certain challenges, there should not be any pressure for them to conform and should be supported in their efforts to find answers. The conversation is generating awareness and education on issues that affect young people need to be refocused to better address that their problems are real, leading to the hope of instilling a higher quality of life.