When Love, Simon opens in theaters this weekend, it’s bringing an important milestone with it. The film about a young closeted high school student is the first wide-release project from a major studio to feature an LGBT teenager as its lead.
And while the progress in society is wonderful, the effect that the film will surely have on young queer kids is absolutely indispensable.
The journey to accepting and understanding one’s sexuality can be filled with an overwhelming sense of loneliness, and having no stories to watch on television or in movies that reflect that pain and confusion only makes matters worse. But Love, Simon is changing things by taking the classic high school coming-of-age story and infusing it with a gay lead.
Based on the book Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli, the film tells the story of a 17-year-old student named Simon who is looking for love but has yet to come out to his family or friends.
Just as important as the fact that it’s about an LGBT character is the fact that everything else in the movie looks completely familiar to the coming-of-age tropes we’re used to — a reminder that the high school experience is a struggle for everyone.
The film’s director, Arrowverse super-producer Greg Berlanti, is a gay man himself and is well aware the impact that his new movie can make.
When FANDOM asked Berlanti what a film like this would have meant to him as a young closeted kid, his answer was just another reminder of why Love, Simon is so important in the first place.
“I think about it a lot,” the director said. “One thing that I didn’t realize until after we made the film is that I probably would have been too scared to go to the movie. I would have worried that people would have thought I was gay if they saw me there. Or would I have gone to a neighboring theater?”
That fear of being discovered is all too familiar to anyone who has had to keep their sexuality a secret for fear of what the response may be. And Berlanti thinks that there will still be kids today who “don’t want to tell their parents they’re going or are afraid that if they go with their parents it is going to incite a conversation.”
But queer kids will find a way to see it, one way or another. And when they do, it just may be powerful enough to change their lives forever.
Adam Salandra is an Entertainment Editor for FANDOM. He spends most of his time untucking in the Interior Illusions Lounge watching RuPaul’s Drag Race, but isn’t afraid to get down and dirty with trashy reality TV, too.