Mara Jade
by Mara Jade

“I’m just like you,” narrates 17-year-old Simon Spier (Nick Robinson) in the opening scene of Love, Simon. If you’ve lived through your awkward teenage years, had a huge crush on someone in school, and have felt being utterly alone before, Love, Simon could very well be a story of your life. Sure his circumstances may be different, but the fundamentals are the same.

Based on the novel “Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda” by Becky Albertalli, Simon Spier is your typical teenager with normal adolescent issues. He has a set of normal parents, in the form of Jennifer Garner and Josh Duhamel, and lives in a nice, suburban house. He spends his time after school hanging out with his small group of tight-knitted friends. Everything seems typical, except that Simon is hiding a huge secret. No one knows that he’s gay. And he has a crush on a boy in school he’s never met.

Slapped with an R21 rating because of its homosexual theme, Love, Simon touches on topics that are relevant in our current cultural climate, serves as a great lesson for both parents and young adults, and cathartic for those in the closet. Here’s why.

Sensible Coming-of-age Drama

The movie wisely balances humour and touchy topics. It starts off with relatable high school drama with enough humour and angst, and then slowly eases into the often-shunned subject of homosexuality with just the right amount of teenage bumbling, growing dignity and finally, a breakthrough. Simon is initially a deer in the headlights, but slowly, through mistakes and mishaps, finds himself in these chaos. And if you take away the gay theme, it’s something that every teen can relate to.

Gay isn’t Wrong

The movie also focuses on one key point- it’s okay if you’re gay. Since young, most children are brought up in an environment where liking one from their own gender is forbidden. This has kept closeted teens silent, guilty about their feelings. Through Simon’s struggles, played out on the big screen, the movie is a release for those in the closet, letting them know that there’s nothing wrong with finding love in all places, and limited to not just one gender.

Relatable Struggles

What the movie does amazingly well is its relatability. Instead of making Simon’s parents homophobic, they are depicted as loving, accepting parents. But still, Simon faces coming-out issues. And it has scenarios which some may find familiar, like how his dad jokes about the new Bachelor being “clearly gay”, or make comments on masturbating to a sweet young thing. These are comments that aren’t homophobic, but are typical of a heterosexual guy. And for Simon, it’s these tiny non-intentional but insensitive comments that send him into an emotional roller-coaster. And this is the classic reason why people hesitate about coming out, for fear of being labelled as “clearly gay” as though there’s something wrong with them.

Believable Character

Simon isn’t the cliché gay character. He is just like the average kid, with the same interests and aspirations as the next teen. Robinson (The Kings of Summer), who plays Simon, does it with enough subtlety, vulnerability and relatability. You can tell he’s fighting his feelings in his awkward glances at a cute guy at a diner, or his frustrations at why there’s the pressure of coming out if you’re gay. It’s important for Simon to be the guy that doesn’t set off anyone’s gaydar, because not every homosexual character needs to be stereotyped like Kurt from Glee.

If you’re in the closet, know of someone struggling with his or her sexuality, or just in the mood for a coming-of-age dramedy, Love, Simon fits the bill, and more.

Watch the Love, Simon cast share their thoughts on embracing yourself: