Love, Simon is a coming-of-age story with a major twist: Simon is gay.

With recent high-profile movies like Moonlight and Call Me By Your Name featuring a gay person as its central character, it’s hard to imagine that YA novel-turned-movie Love, Simon is the first film with a gay main character to be backed by a major film studio.

(Okay, maybe not that hard to believe.)

Reminiscent of a classic John Hughes high school movie, Love, Simon follows Nick Robinson as the titular character. Simon has a perfectly normal life. He has supportive parents, a sister he actually gets along with and a great group of friends. But even with all that privilege, he still has a hard time coming out to them.

Simon anonymously befriends another closeted student through a series of email exchanges and throughout the movie, the two confide in each other about their struggles with their sexualities and their fears of coming out.

But Simon’s world is rocked when a classmate posts his emails for the entire school to see.

Love, Simon explores the complexities that come with sexuality, identity and coming out. And that’s what makes it such an important film, especially for queer youth who are in the same boat as Simon.

Imagine walking into a movie theater and for the first time, you see yourself being positively represented on the screen. The moment when you feel like you’re finally being seen is a feeling like no other. Queer youth finally have that gay protagonist and movie that they can relate to.

Representation matters.

We need movies like Love, Simon, Black Panther and A Wrinkle in Time to give young people characters that they can look up to; characters that look like them. Our stories and our lives are finally being shown and that is so precious.

This movie is going to change the lives of so many young people — scratch that, it already is changing the lives of so many young people.

Since filming on the movie wrapped, two of the film’s actors have publicly come out.

Keiynan Lonsdale stars as soccer jock Bram and, last May, he publicly came out as bisexual to his Love, Simon castmates at the film’s wrap party and then later on social media.

In a recent interview with HuffPost, Lonsdale said “Timing is a very funny thing. I never imagined, especially as I was going through my own issues, that I would get to play this character in a queer love story.” He added how the film “gave him a kick to reflect and think about how I wanted to deal with my internalized shame.”

Lonsdale’s costar, Joey Pollari, also publicly came out in a recent interview with Advocate.

Pollari, who starred as a gay basketball player in season two of American Crime, says “it’s part of my goal to be more transparent, especially in the public sphere. I think that’s a good thing. Anybody who’s out? It was helpful to me when I was in the closet. I think just adding another voice there is a good thing to do.”

And it doesn’t stop there.

Folks on Twitter are sharing their experiences after watching Love, Simon.

This movie is literally inspiring its audience to be truest versions of themselves and come out to their loved ones. What’s more beautiful than that?

And this movie isn’t just for the closeted and the queer kids either. It’s a chance for parents and straight people to see the difficulties of coming to terms with your sexuality and the struggle of coming out.

Love, Simon shows no matter how supportive and incredible your friends and family might be, it’s still an incredibly scary process to open up to the people you love most. The fear that relationships can be lost or changed deters many folks from coming out of the closet. But Love, Simon will give people who don’t have to come out an opportunity to see what it’s like for those who don’t have that luxury, hopefully becoming more understanding and sympathetic in the process.

I wish movies like Love, Simon existed when I was younger in my formative years. I needed movies like this. I feel like I missed out on so much by not having them. But I am so, so glad that it exists now.

Love, Simon is in theaters now.

Johnsen Del Rosario (he/him/his) on Instagram
Johnsen Del Rosario (he/him/his)
Program Coordinator
WHO IS HE? Johnsen Del Rosario, 26, graduated from Fresno State with a Bachelor’s Degree in Mass Communication and Journalism with an emphasis in Print Journalism. When he’s not at Target (Which is all the time), he spends his time watching Friday Night Lights on Netflix. #ClearEyesFullHearts. Also, pancakes and coffee.

DID YOU KNOW? He prefers sandwiches over burritos.

FEATURED AREA: Social Media.

For more from Johnsen, visit his blog johnsendelrosario.com

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