I have to say that I am highly pleased with the amount of positive feedback and support I received following last week's article, where I highlight a continuum in regard to sexuality and invalidate the need to have to "come out" due to its inability to assimilate into the heteronormativity of society's standards.
My goal is not to derive sympathy from anyone. Rather, I wish to build a foundation for significant impact, to use words as a means to string people together enduring similar issues. Together, we can use our voices and impact to form a powerful bond that will progress us in the right direction.
That being said, I feel the need to highlight one of the most impactful movies I have ever seen. "Love, Simon," directed by Greg Berlanti, was released in early 2018 and is based on the novel "Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda" by Becky Albertalli. The film stars Nick Robinson as Simon Spier, the protagonist of the novel who is a closeted gay high school student trying to accommodate a blackmailer threatening to out him to the entire school while simultaneously trying to figure out who the anonymous classmate is he fell in love with online.
The film also stars Jennifer Garner as Robinson's mother, Josh Duhamel as his father, and Katherine Langford, Alexandra Shipp, and Jorge Lendeborg Jr. as some of his closest friends. Aside from the powerful and memorable acting portrayed by these phenomenal actors, the messages that are embedded within this film filled my eyes with tears several times and truly helped me mold my perspective on sexual identity.
You get to decide
In the film, Simon is outed by a classmate named Martin (played by Logan Miller) that was threatening him in order to get Simon to set him up with one of Simon's friends. There is a scene toward the end of the film subsequent to Simon's coming out that involves an intense altercation between Simon and Martin.
Simon proceeds to tell Martin: "I'm supposed to be the one that decides when and how and who knows and how I get to say it, that's supposed to be my thing."
And he's right. That is supposed to be his thing.
Throughout my entire life, I was always called gay. People stereotyped me and denigrated me and placed me into these awful categories that forced me to be an outcast. And then, when I actually realized who I am and other people started hearing things about what I was doing, they started to talk. They started to out me, just like Simon. And to be the talk of your class or your school simply for exploring your sexuality or finding yourself is frustrating. It's so fucking frustrating. Because only I get to decide who knows, or who I tell, or what I even say about it. That's nobody else's job but my own.
So, if you are struggling with your own sexual identity and find yourself in a similar position as Simon or me, remember that anybody who tries to spread YOUR personal business and insecure information is so fucking wrong for that. And you don't deserve it.
You are still you
One of the most tear-jerking scenes in the film for me was the confrontation between Simon and his mother after he came out. His mother sits him down with tears in her eyes, telling him something that he's needed to hear for so long.
She says to him: "I need you to hear this. You are still you, Simon. You are still the same son who I love to tease and who your father depends on for just about everything. And you're the same brother who always compliments his sister on her food even when it sucks. You get to exhale now, Simon. You get to be more you than you have been in a very long time. You deserve everything you want."
This. This is so important. This is why this film is one of the most important films of our time. See, the thing is, LGBTQ+ youth who are in the closet struggle with this. They struggle with loving themselves and normalizing themselves and finding fucking importance and value within themselves. And because they feel this way, they need to hear what Simon's mother says. They need to hear that after they come out, they are still the same people they were before. And they can be free. They can finally love themselves.
Why is straight the default?
This is one of the most salient themes conveyed in the film and is reflective of my most recent article. Simon often proposes this question and asks why straight people don't come out. We are then shown an ironic example of this when people come out as straight to their parents in the movie, and the parents' reactions are far from positive. This is meant to replicate what it's like to come out as anything that's not heterosexual and tears down heteronormative barriers in society.
So, why is straight the default? Stop using religion to justify it. Stop using procreation. And start thinking about something else...
Everyone. Deserves. A. Love. Story.
And this brings me into my final section of this piece. "Love, Simon" teaches us that no matter who you are or how you sexually identify... whether that be straight, gay, bisexual, or anything else. Everyone deserves to find love. We all deserve to settle down with someone and experience what that's like. So be yourself. Find someone. And love the shit out of that person.
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Taking all this into consideration and illustrating how "Love, Simon" has allowed me to form my perspective on sexual orientation and identity, I don't believe in the whole "I love you, but I can't support you" bullshit. I don't want to hear your justification for your tacit or explicit homophobia. I respect anyone's beliefs, but if you can't love me AND support me at the same time, I most certainly don't need you in my life and that goes for anyone.