By GIORGINA MCKAY
Love, Simon has only been in US theatres for 10 days and it’s already capturing audiences’ attention.
The film, based on the novel Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by author Becky Albertalli, is a coming-of-age romantic comedy that narrates the life of a closeted teenage boy in high school―a story all too familiar for LGBTQIA+ people around the world.
The film, directed by Greg Berlanti, differs from mainstream movies both past and present in that it is the first major studio film about a gay romance.
In a generation where the LGBTQIA+ community is at the forefront of conversation, this film holds extreme significance.
Typical gay-centric films of the past, such as the academy-award winning Brokeback Mountain, have been famed for their complex narratives and dramatic romances that, more often than not, leave these characters without a happy ending.
Contrastingly, Love, Simon is an ordinary rom-com story of a young, gay male, played by Nick Robinson, looking for love within the walls of his school.
This concept acts a refreshing take on the genre and is groundbreaking for the film industry.
The PG-13 narration of this story (besides a few same-sex kisses and a reference to ‘butt sex’) means the film is open to a wide range of audiences.
The wide reach of this film may potentially help or save hundreds of LGBTQIA+ lives.
It’s difficult enough to be a queer person in a world where people tell you it’s shameful, let alone to be a young queer person having to juggle these emotions along with adolescence.
The National Australian Pharmacy Students’ Association (NAPSA) have said the mental health of LGBTQIA+ people is poorest in Australia.
NAPSA found that the average age of suicide for queer youth is 16, just before the time of coming out.
Additionally, the National LGBTI Health Alliance in Australia found LGBTQIA+ people are twice as likely to be diagnosed and treated for mental health disorders and those aged 16 and over are six times more likely to commit suicide.
Having a creative text like Love, Simon that can connect, engage and educate these LGBTQIA+ teens can dramatically improve their coming out experience.
It may also aid them in understanding and dealing with these heightened emotions and any conflicts that may come their way.
This, in turn, can also decrease the likelihood of developing mental health disorders and can prevent the risk of self-harm and suicide.
However, not only does Love, Simon open the conversation within society and the film industry in regards to its gay-centric narrative, it also does so through its diverse cast.
Love, Simon follows the lead of a few other recent films, featuring lead person-of-colour (POC) characters―two of Simon’s best friends and a love interest.
Keiynan Lonsdale, who plays one of these characters, also identifies as queer in real life.
Racism is also at the forefront of the conversation in our society, with the lack of diversity in the film industry being called into question.
The diversity of the Love, Simon cast has a substantial impact on both the LGBTQIA+ and POC communities.
It opens the spectrum of representation, allowing for viewers to feel a sense of inclusion in a society that regularly excludes them.
These feelings of inclusion and belonging carry out into theatres, creating a safe space for audiences.
Stories like those of Twitter user @whorefrost, who explained how she felt comfortable to publically hold her girlfriend for the first time shows how films like Love, Simon can drastically change an environment, as well as change the views of others.
This is just further evidence of the extensive impact this film has had on gay culture and society in general.
It successfully opened the door for a larger conversation on the treatment of LGBTQIA+ individuals and on their representation in the media, as well as bridged the conversation of diversity.
This film is a giant leap forward in the right direction and hopefully will pave the way for more great, diverse, and inclusive films in the future.
Love, Simon hits Australian theatres on March 29.
Image Source: Verge Campus