Love, Simon provides important representation for LGBTQ+

Cassidy Foronda, co-editor-in-chief

The plot of Love, Simon seems painfully normal. It’s easy to sweep the tale of teenage love off our radars, especially following the success of critically acclaimed LGBTQ+ films like Carol, Moonlight and Call Me By Your Name, with each nominated for and the latter two winning Academy Awards. However, Love, Simon is, at its core, an enjoyable movie whose value rests precisely on its normalcy.

Namesake character Simon Spier (Nick Robinson) is a high school student who lives what he calls “a totally normal life,” save for his closeted sexuality. One day, his friend Leah (Katherine Langford) shows Simon an online post written by one of their classmates under the pseudonym “Blue,” who confesses that he is gay. Simon begins an email correspondence, comforted by the existence of someone like him, and the two build an intimate friendship. However, when another student named Martin (Logan Miller) uncovers their messages and threatens to reveal them, Simon begins searching for Blue and coming to terms with himself in the process.

The story is told like any other teenage rom-com, coming-of-age movie, which is what makes it so extraordinary. Its strength is its  aim to depict a teenage boy struggling with his sexuality as one might today. Surrounded by friends like Leah, Nick (Jorge Lendeborg Jr.) and Abby (Alexandra Shipp), young viewers today may find their own life mirrored by the film. Combined, the cast ensemble as a whole portrays characters with the capability to elicit teary eyes and chuckles alike. Simon’s parents, played by Jennifer Garner and Josh Duhamel, shine. Accepting, but not perfect, they show the grittier, albeit more optimistic, version of what a coming out experience may entail.

Additionally, against a heavy backdrop of self-discovery and self-acceptance, small doses of comedy here and there allow for the film to pursue a light-hearted tone. From a teacher’s quip about the inappropriate use of a trumpet to Robinson’s endearing depiction of an awkward teenager who doesn’t know what to say, Love, Simon strays from the constantly serious depiction of the LGBTQ+ experience of which other films have historically opted.

However, when serious moments do come, they resonate. The scenes where Simon comes out and meets Blue tug on the heartstrings like a Hallmark Christmas movie. The scenes are sweet. They are simple. And admittedly, the film is heartwarming, but not extraordinary. It lacks the innovation, cinematography value and indie-movie-street-cred of its LGBTQ+ film predecessors.

But, that normalcy is necessary.

Simply by its existence and the visibility that it creates, Love, Simon breaks barriers. With a character like Simon, who says he’s “just like you,” the movie is accessible in a way that few LGBTQ+ movies previously were. Simon’s world resembles that of a typical high school student, and his struggle will echo those of other young people grappling with sexuality and first loves.

The movie asserts that “Everyone deserves a great love story.” In its pedestrian tone and story, viewers are made to believe that “everyone” includes their friends, their classmates, their family and themselves. And that is an accomplishment just as important, if not eclipsing, as the most prestigious awards.