Greg Berlanti’s Love, Simon, the first major studio film about a gay kid coming out, has been called “something of a landmark in LGBTQ cinema” and “a radically inclusive act.” It has been lauded for giving new life to the teen romance genre and for making gay romance mainstream. As critics on the Rotten Tomatoes website note, it represents an “overdue…milestone of inclusion.”
Simon (played wonderfully by Nick Robinson) tells us in his opening voice-over that he lives a normal life, “just like you” — except for his big secret about his sexuality. That statement is, of course, meant to play on the idea of difference and normalcy: one of the questions Simon asks is: “Why is straight the default?” But the character’s insistence on being “just like you” seems to betray the film’s desire to make its mainstream audiences comfortable with his gayness, while also revealing the film’s class bias. Simon stays in a very nice house in an affluent neighborhood with his two liberal, supportive parents and a younger sister. He has a wonderful group of friends, and only encounters a couple of overtly homophobic boys in school. Simon’s struggle to come out, then, is primarily internal, and Berlanti portrays Simon’s coming-of-age journey with emotional depth. Like other teen romances, there is a range of obstacles that prevent Simon from getting together with the anonymous boy from school who he has been emailing, and the suspense feels integral to the film, mirroring as it does the fears of both characters.
One wishes that Berlanti had been somewhat more radical in his representation of gay love but the film is sweet, funny, idealistic and full of heart — I left the cinema grinning widely and I am sure you will too! I highly recommend watching the film!
— Anuja Madan, Assistant Professor