the voice and vision of a new generation
20th Century Fox

Yes, LGBTQ teens need "Love, Simon"

March 18, 2018

I’m well accustomed to fearing for the fates of LGBTQ characters in film and television, especially in light of tropes like bury your gays. It’s exhausting — even when watching incredible films and TV programs, sometimes I just want to see queer characters end up happy. Out of necessity, I usually turn to fan-created content for this kind of ending, but times are changing and now, I have the capacity to look to mainstream films. The newly released film Love, Simon is the feel-good film that today’s queer youth deserve.

But some have asked: "Do today’s teens actually need it?” In short: yes.

Love, Simon is the first film from a major studio (20th Century Fox) that’s focused on gay teenage romance — a fact that’s even more incredible considering that mainstream films, which are the most accessible form of film, have historically lagged behind in terms of LGBTQ representation compared to television and other media. Often in big studio films, queer characters are relegated to minor roles and are made to be the butt of jokes. A film like Love, Simon is nothing short of incredible and is setting a precedent for future LGBTQ-focused films from major studios.

For today’s teens, the general message of acceptance is needed perhaps more than ever. GLAAD’s 2018 Accelerating Acceptance report revealed an increase in Americans who are uncomfortable with LGBTQ people for the first time in four years. And despite the many policy and cultural advances we've seen in recent years, the coming out process and the fear of not gaining acceptance, is still very real. Despite explicit, unprompted assurances throughout my adolescence from my father that he would love me all the same if I ever came out, it took me two years past when I realized that I was bisexual to come out to my parents. The message of acceptance in the film — even for those who are the most privileged in the queer community — is still without a doubt valuable and necessary.

In a world where a young activist has been bullied and called a “skinhead lesbian” by a politician, where queer characters are relegated to punchlines and bit roles in film, and where the Trump administration has rescinded Obama-era guidelines that allowed transgender students to access bathrooms that align with their gender identity, a healthy dose of idealism is sorely needed. As much as complex films that explore the deep intricacies of queer identity and community are necessary, so are the films that simply depict queer teens as being happy and above all, accepted.

Love, Simon should not be held to a higher standard than any of its heterosexual contemporaries. When discussing any film from the litany of teenage rom-coms, no one is ever going to ask, “But do straight teens really need Teen Beach 2?” In my opinion, it comes down to this: If straight teens are allowed to happy-ending rom-coms, queer teens deserve at least the same. The good news for us is Love, Simon delivers that and more.

Show your support for @lovesimonmovie and LGBTQ representation in movies by writing your own love message on the importance of LGBTQ representation on Twitter: tag it #LoveSimon and sign your name with #Love(Your First Name), and tag @GLAAD so we can share messages of support throughout the film's opening week.

For more information about LGBTQ representation in film, check out GLAAD’s 2017 Studio Responsibility Index.

Palmer Haasch is a GLAAD Campus Ambassador and a junior at the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities studying English and Political Science with minors in French Studies and GLBT Studies. She served as an Entertainment Media Intern at GLAAD and is now a weekly columnist for the Minnesota Daily.

the voice and vision of a new generation