Why So Many On Twitter Are Excited About A ‘Love, Simon,’ A Rom-Com About A Gay Teen

"The love story I wish I had seen when I was in high school."

Even though it's only been in theaters for a few days, Love, Simon is already being heralded as a big win for LGBTQ representation in film. The movie, based on the book Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda, is the first gay teenage romance to be released by a major studio. And for many in the LGBTQ community, the film is the first time they're seeing their own experience reflected on the big screen. 

Love, Simon tells the coming-of-age story of Simon Spier and covers many of the same themes of typical teenage romantic comedies, except for the fact that its main character is a closeted gay teen. 

"I had been a closeted teen myself, and I just realized just the power of representation in something like this was so evocative for me," director Greg Berlanti told NPR. "And I went in and said to the studio: You realize that there's never been a teen rom-com with a gay kid at the center. And having grown up in the '80s, when there was a lot of great teen coming-of-age movies, I never saw myself or our storylines on the screen."

Seeing oneself on the screen is the equivalent of normalization in Hollywood. For many viewers, Love, Simon is a statement that being a teenager and a member of the LGBTQ community is not only normal, it's accepted. 

In the weeks before the film's release, the cast of Love, Simon traveled across the country, hosting special screenings, at some of which Berlanti said audience members had driven two to three hours to see the movie. At some, gay-straight alliances from area high schools had bused to the theater together, and at some, LGBTQ teenagers brought their parents to use the film as a starting point for having an open conversation about their own sexuality. 

"If you can create empathy for the character, they can be as wildly different from the audience as possible, and it doesn't make a difference," Berlanti told HuffPost. "When we tested this film, we tested it in a very liberal state, and then we tested it in a very red state. It tested the same, if not a little bit better, in the red state. They applauded [the ending] just as much as they applauded it in the blue state. Storytelling is storytelling."

Cover image via Kathy Hutchins / Shutterstock

(H/T: Mashable

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