The Aventina

“Love, Simon”, and what Allies Should take away from It

Anonymous

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So your friend came out of the closet. Whatever letter of the LGBT community they fall under, that can be a confusing time for everyone. I understand that — especially if you’ve known them for a very long time — you, as an ally may have trouble with adjusting your language and deepening your understanding of LGBT identities that are foreign to you. But no matter how puzzling it is to hear that your friend now goes by a different name, or is exclusively attracted to women (as a woman) or any other number of things, the one thing you should be absolutely doing is wholeheartedly supporting them. When an LGBT person comes out, especially when only to a select group of people, they are showcasing an ultimately very personal and vulnerable part about them. A part of them that many people in this world still feel is fundamentally wrong. They will most likely face some sort of abuse, violence or harassment based on who they are, and so the trust they place in allies (and other LGBT folks as well) to respect and back them up is immense. This goes twofold for those who have been outed against their will. They are forcibly put in a particularly vulnerable position — forced outing is almost always a weapon cis straight people use against already marginalized LGBT people.

 

This is exactly what happens to Simon in the hit teen romcom Love, Simon (released this past May). Closeted gay boy, Simon, begins exchanging intimate emails with another closeted gay boy named “Blue” before being found out by Martin, who uses the emails to blackmail Simon into setting him up with Simon’s friend, Abby. Simon’s desperate attempts at keeping his secret his own leads him to lie to all of his friends in order to abet Martin and avoid getting outed. This later blows up in his face when he is inevitably outed anyway by a wounded Martin who gets rejected by Abby. When his friends find out that Simon lied to them, they completely abandon him, leaving him utterly alone when they go back to school and he faces homophobic harassment.

 

His friends eventually come around but only after Simon basically grovels for their forgiveness — an action his friends do not return. They never apologize to Simon for what they did, choosing to put the incident behind them and move forward as if nothing had ever happened.

 

This is the problem. Perhaps the movie only meant to emulate the very real trend of cis straight people making any coming out story about themselves — the word “betrayal” is very common in that respect. However, by leaving out a crucial scene where Simon’s friends apologize, the movie (not intentionally) perpetuates the narrative of the suffering straight friend who must “deal” with their friend coming out which is so often seen in movies of this nature.

 

This brings us to the point: when a friend comes out, or is forcibly outed, put them over yourself and listen to what they have to say. Keep mum about your personal opinions on their identity or how it may affect you, and support them in any way you can. This includes standing up for them in the face of LGBT-phobic harassment, abuse, and violence. That’s what you can do to be a good ally. And, of course, a good friend.

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“Love, Simon”, and what Allies Should take away from It