Over the past few years we’ve witnessed a huge surge in the number of LGBT+ themed movies and Love, Simon is the latest to pick up buzz.
Not only are films with queer protagonists breaking into the mainstream, but they’re also getting recognised critically. In the past year alone both Moonlight and Call Me By Your Name have been front-runners at the Oscars, with the former even beating out favourite La La Land to take home Best Film in 2017.
Queer people are finally seeing themselves represented on the big screen with fully developed characters that are no longer just sassy bit-parts, but actual protagonists.This can only be seen as a positive thing, right? Well, not according to TIME.
A opinion piece titled: “Love, Simon Is a ground-breaking Gay Movie. But Do Today’s Teens Actually Need It?” went viral this week. The writer rightfully commended the film for being the first mainstream coming of age film with a gay protagonist, but then it went on to make the bizarre suggestion that such a movie simply didn’t need to be made.
Times are changing. The current generation of teens born in the early 2000s are the most socially enlightened yet. They’re talking openly about gender and sexuality in a way that has never been done before, and it’s helped create an environment that’s more welcoming of LGBT+ youths than ever before.
We’ve got gay marriage, so we’re all good, right? Or at least, that’s what endless critics like to shout on social media when LGBT+ people dare suggest we’ve yet to achieve equality.
Yes, our relationships have finally been legitimised after years of battling for our rights. But we’re far from equal. Closeted teenagers are still killing themselves due to a lack of acceptance from their family and peers. Children are being murdered by their parents over their sexuality and being gay is still illegal in 72 countries around the globe.
Just half a decade ago same-sex marriages were still illegal in the United States. Now, just a few short years later, the first queer teenagers to grow up in an environment where they’re legally allowed to love who they want are seeing their generation represented on-screen for the first time.
While network television has long been home to coming out stories, Love, Simon marks the first time ever that a coming out story has been specifically targeted at mainstream audiences.
The shift in attitude towards our community is finally beginning to embed itself into mainstream culture, and for the first time in memory, LGBT+ stories are being seen as the norm. This isn’t a story about a boy who ends up being killed in a homophobic attack. It’s not a story of forbidden love that remains unrequited. It’s a heart-warming story of a teenage boy who falls in love with another boy and it even has – *spoiler warning* – a happy ending.
So what Gaydar would love to know is, why does Love, Simon even have to be “necessary” to justify its existence? When another generic story about a teenage girl who falls for the high-school jock only to realise he’s a d**k and her best friend was right there all along is released, we don’t see publications like TIME commissioning writers to question whether there’s a demand for it.
The question shouldn’t be whether today’s teens need a film like Love, Simon, but instead why it’s taken so long for such a groundbreaking film to exist.