5 Queer Women React To How 'Love, Simon' Made Them Feel About Their Sexuality
Love, Simon captured my heart with its innocent cheesiness, queer representation, and (spoiler alert) happy ending. While it has been a long time coming, I'm thrilled it has finally arrived, making us all reach for Kleenex throughout the entirety of the movie. I wanted to see what queer girls thought about it – so I found out how queer women react to "Love, Simon" and what it meant for them.
Seeing such representation normalized in a fun, John Hughes-esque film is so important – especially when seeing gay characters usually portrayed in a tragic, ill-fated manner, or simply reduced to a stereotype rather than a three-dimensional human being. In Love, Simon, main character high school student Simon Spier (Nick Robinson) strikes an anonymous e-mail friendship with another anonymous and closeted peer (Keiynan Lonsdale). Simon has loving and progressive parents (Jennifer Garner and Josh Duhamel), a loving little sister (Talitha Bateman), and a supportive group of friends (Katherine Langford, Alexandra Shipp, and Jorge Lendeborg, Jr). However, he's nervous about how his life will change if they all find out he's gay – and, another student (Logan Miller) learns of Simon's secret and threatens to out him.
This gay, coming-of-age romantic comedy is the first of its kind: it's the first time a big-budget production company (20th Century Fox) put a rom-com centered around a young gay character in movie theaters nationwide. The movie was met with both praise and critique by the LGBTQ+ community. Here's what four women had to say about it.
'Love, Simon' inspired Caitlyn to officially come out publicly on the internet.
Caitlyn, 26, couldn't relate to Simon's character coming out during high school – but her realization how important it is to see out queer people after seeing the movie led her to publicly come out on the internet.
"I was surprised by how much it meant to see a joyful uplifting gay rom com, even if wasn't lesbian-specific," Caitlyn tells Elite Daily. "It really felt new and special."
Caitlyn came out during summer 2017 to her family and friends, after realizing she was queer three years prior.
She says, "I really identified with Simon's internalized homophobia - even from a place of privilege where you know friends and family are going to be supportive (and we all know that is best, best case scenario) there's something still inherently othering about realizing you're gay, fighting against it, coming to terms with it and then having to 'come out.' All that before you can be happy or excited about your identity."
On the movie, Caitlyn says, "I connected with Love, Simon because I could finally watch a love story about people like me without worrying about imminent character death or estrangement or tragedy. Now, I'm just waiting to watch the same thing with ladies."
Elly wishes she had this movie a decade ago, when she was a teen.
Love, Simon touched writer Elly, 23, so much that she saw the movie three times since its release almost two weeks ago, and read the book (Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda) twice. She connected with Simon attempting to keep his identity secret, and longed for the same family acceptance he received from his mother onscreen.
"I haven't been able to stop thinking about how much I needed a movie like this when I was younger, especially in high school," Elly tells Elite Daily. "So much of my high school experience and even middle school experience was convincing myself I was a 'very normal person' and suppressing parts of my identity like my sexuality. Having a happy gay rom-com that shows a gay kid getting a fun, happy ending and also the representation of the whole internal struggle might have made me feel less alone and might have given me the courage to be myself sooner. I can't describe how happy I am that this movie exists now for young people to see – whether they currently identify as LGBTQ or not, internally or externally."
She continued, "I just feel like this is the kind of happy and fun movie that's important for just being out there – leveling the playing field."
Elly related seeing a cute romantic comedy such as Love, Simon onscreen being something the LGBTQ+ community "deserves" after enduring years of Nicholas Sparks movies.
"People who happen to be queer or trans or LGBTQ+ deserve grand love stories too," she says. "If I had gotten that message when I was younger, I might not have felt like I had to hide myself in order to find true happiness. I might have felt like I could exhale."
Willa wants queer teens to know not all coming out stories look like Simon's.
"I spent so much of high school worried about, and deferring conversations around my identity to 'protect' those around me," Willa, 23, tells Elite Daily. "The film did an effective job at making the storyline easy to follow and accessible to broader audiences."
While the story centered around a gay teen, he was white, cisgender, and relatively affluent one, with a coming out experience and first love that was tied up neatly at the end of the movie. Willa stresses not all real life coming-to-terms of one's sexuality plays out like this."Although, I was happy to hear that my younger sister was excited see the movie, I also wanted her to know that her process of discovering herself might be messier, more confusing, and perhaps uglier and that’s okay," she says.And Willa noted that even coming out isn't the be-all end-all of claiming a queer identity."While it is obviously great to see non-heteronormative representation in media, I also want teens to know that coming out to others is not the only way to validate your identity," she continues. "Your sexuality is yours to claim in whatever way you'd like to, regardless of how your friends and peers respond."
Rebecca connected with other characters in the movie, too.
"I feel like there were definitely parts of Simon that I connected with, particularly when I was in high school and constantly worried if people were reading me as gay or queer in some way," Rebecca, 23, tells Elite Daily. "When he talks in the movie about coming out in college and being able to live openly, that part definitely resonated with me. My high school was small and everyone tried to be pretty homogenous, so being gay and being out about being gay would have definitely attracted attention I did not want."
She continued to say that she more identified with Katherine Langford's character, Leah – because despite not being a straight woman like Leah, Rebecca also isn't a gay man, like Simon.
"When [Leah] talks to Simon at his house about feeling weird and like an outsider watching, I felt that could be connected to queerness in a huge way, even if that was not explicitly what she was talking about in that moment," she says.
Kate wishes coming out wasn't a thing.
"I connect with Simon in a lot of ways," Kate, 23, tells Elite Daily. "Simon had a great support system around him and so do I, but that still doesn't help the shame you feel inside. Even if you know you have people around you who will love you for who you are, you still feel like you're letting them down in some way because their expectations about your life will change. My parents expect me to end up with a man, but I have to crush their expectations/dreams in some way if I end up falling in love with a girl. Like Simon said, it sucks that the LGBTQ+ community [has] to even 'come out.' I think from an early age, we put in their head the idea that the world is heterosexual. With more representation, I don't think there will be a huge pressure to come out...it'll just be like any hetero person telling their parent about someone they like. Not some huge shameful secret to hide."
Whether you're lesbian, gay, bi, trans, pan, questioning, somewhere in between, or straight, I hope you see Love, Simon, proving lead queer characters sell tickets, so we can get more and more films like it in the future.