Pride Month on The Marquee: Love, Simon
I was a late bloomer.
At 27, over the course of a pressure-cooker summer, I fell in love with a guy for the first time and eventually came out. The experience later became the basis for my memoir Out East.
People often ask, what’s it like baring your soul in book form? The honest answer: I don’t really think about it. I wrote the book just for me, to give a singular moment in my life a beginning, middle, and end. But when it came to publishing it, I did it, in part because I know I would’ve benefited from a story like it when I was younger.
I came of age in the early 2000s, when queer representation, especially in film, was mostly doled out in breadcrumbs. I remember characters like Franck from Father of the Bride, Todd from Wedding Crashers, and Julia Roberts’ gay best friend from My Best Friend’s Wedding. They were all hilarious, and in their own ways iconic. I loved them, and still do. But I didn’t quite see my own experiences reflected back in them. Not every movie needs to speak to the specific interior lives of each viewer, of course. No story, no character, can be a mirror for everyone. But gay kids from a younger generation than my own deserve at least a few.
I think this is why, in 2018, I was so happy to see a gay teen rom-com like Love, Simon hit mainstream theaters. Unlike the film’s protagonist, I was long out of high school, but the night I went to see the movie, I found Simon’s story, his self-doubt and confusion, his fear and excitement, profoundly relatable. It reflected a high school coming-of-age experience I might have had. And for two hours—with a bucket of popcorn and an ice cold Coca-Cola—I had it. The experience, for me and my gay friends who saw the movie with me, was unexpectedly emotional. When Simon’s parents affirm him after he comes out, I cried because this was the kind of story young gay kids should get the chance to see. A queer love story with a happy ending. And hopefully just one in a whole generation of inclusive films that let the next generation know: it’s going to be okay.
John Glynn is a freelance writer and an editor at Hanover Square Press, an imprint of HarperCollins. Out East, his first book, got rave reviews when it debuted including being named an American Booksellers of America “Indie Next” Pick; an Oprah, The Magazine Best LGBTQ Book of 2019; a TIME Magazine Best Book of the Month; an Entertainment Weekly Best Book of the Month; a Cosmopolitan Best Book of the Month; a “Queer Book to Read in May 2019” from Out Magazine; and a BookPage “Must-Read Book for Summer”, among others.