“Love, Simon” isn’t your typical coming-of-age movie. Based on Becky Albertalli’s bestselling novel “Simon VS. The Homo Sapiens Agenda,” the film explores sexual identity and the difficulties of coming out from the perspective of a closeted gay 17-year-old boy.
“Love, Simon” is the first mainstream movie to feature a gay teen protagonist according to the New York Times. The movie highlights the importance of LGBTQ representation in film and encourages audiences to express their identities.
Plattsburgh State gender and women’s studies major ToniAnn Buscemi believes it is essential to have LGBTQ representation in movies because members of the community will be able to see themselves and relate to the stories. Buscemi recalled rarely seeing movies that accurately depicted bisexual women when she was growing up. Often, bisexuality was dismissed as someone going through a phase.
“I didn’t really think being bisexual was a reality because I never saw bisexual women in TV or movies,” Buscemi said. “They were just lesbians. I didn’t think I could like women without just being a lesbian.”
According to the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), bisexuality is defined as, “the potential to be attracted – romantically and/or sexually – to people of more than one sex and/or gender, not necessarily at the same time, not necessarily in the same way, and not necessarily to the same degree.”
Years after her younger brother came out as gay, Buscemi came out to her parents as bisexual.
“I didn’t come out until last year because my parents had always expressed that they thought bisexuality was just a gateway to being a lesbian,” Buscemi said.
Her mother found out about Buscemi’s sexual orientation after Buscemi reposted a Facebook post about being bisexual captioned “Yup, I like girls too!”
“And that was that,” Buscemi said. “My mom asked me about it in person a few weeks later, and she wasn’t as close-minded about it as I thought she’d be.”
PSUC senior psychology major Darlloyd Petteway believes “Love, Simon” serves as a positive example to help LGBTQ youth gain a better understanding of their sexuality.
“It is extremely important to have LGBTQ love and romantic representation in media,” Petteway said. “Growing up, if you’re dealing with feelings for the same sex or gender, television can be very crucial to that process because you look to what’s acceptable and common as approval.”
Petteway also sees the film as an opportunity to educate people on the struggles of being LGBTQ as well as the impact stereotypes have on the community.
“It is isn’t easy dealing with growing up queer,” Petteway said. “People are so wrapped up in you being ‘wrong’ and ‘immoral’ than [letting you] live the life you were honored to live. I think they can learn that there is much more to a person’s sexuality than your own biases.”
Project Coordinator of the Center for Student Involvement Zyaijah Nadler believes there needs to be LGBTQ representation in the cast and production team before filming a movie on the community.
“This will help actors in these roles to see the representation and not feel as though they are speaking for a community especially if the actor [does not] identify as LGBTQ,” Nadler said.
Nadler also said directors should have some form of training from a nonprofit organization that works with the LGBTQ community in order to hear first-hand experiences and stray away from writing “cookie cutter” storylines.
PSUC biomedical sciences major Oluwatoyin Oluwanifise sees “Love, Simon” as a stepping stone for diversifying the film industry, but she believes there’s still room for improvement.
“I’d like to see movies about people of color [who are] LGBTQ and more representation of different types of LGBTQ people,” Oluwanifise said. “There’s so many things that fall into that spectrum.”
A study conducted by GLAAD showed that out of 125 films released by major studios in 2016, 18 percent featured characters who identified as LGBTQ. This was a one percent increase from the previous year.
Despite this, “Love, Simon” is a game changer for mainstream films and LGBTQ storylines. It also serves as a safe space for the community and a voice for marginalized groups.
At PSUC, there are several resources available to the campus community including RADIUS, the LGBTQ program by Title IX, which strives to promote intersectionality inclusion on campus and the Center for Diversity, Pluralism and Inclusion.
PSUC’s LGBTQA Online Resource Center and SAFE SPACE website also offers national, local and on-campus resources to the campus community including an interactive calendar with upcoming SAFE SPACE events.
Email Jasely Molina at fuse@cardinalpoint