The other night A and I went to see “Love, Simon”. It’s the story of a young man in high school who is gay and trying to figure out the right time to come out to his family.
As I walked out of the theatre my immediate thought was “This film is going to save lives.” That’s not hyperbole. This film is a revolutionary step forward because even though there have been a ton of coming out/coming of age films they’ve never had this kind of budget, this high quality of film making, the tightness of the script, the quality acting, the PR push, the major cinema billing. In the past the coming out films were low budget and kind of bad. They were buried deep in Netflix or in a special section at Blockbuster or in indie theaters in major cities. But “Love, Simon” is everywhere. And it’s beautiful.
This is a film that is eye candy. It’s cheesy and sweet and heartwarming and everything that teen films are supposed to be. And it’s about a gay kid. That’s what makes it so special. We deserve to have sweet, cheesy, heartwarming films about gay kids and lesbian kids and trans kids and genderqueer kids. We deserve them and they will save us.
This film also provides a model for parents about how to respond when your kid comes out. And that modeling alone, if parents take it to heart, will save lives.
Again, this is not hyperbole. This film will literally save the lives of queer kids.
And yet… and yet…
We don’t all have a happy coming out. We don’t all have parents who respond like Simon’s parents. And for some of us, even when we have given our parents years to come around they don’t. They never use our correct pronouns, they never welcome our partners, they never attend our weddings. That, too, is truth. We can do everything right; be kind and loving, explain and educate, be patient, give them time. We can set ultimatums and boundaries and follow through on those. We can be firm and clear. And sometimes parents still don’t come around. And it’s not our fault.
Sometimes we need to cut our families off. Sometimes we need to say “No more.” Sometimes we need to stop being patient. Sometimes we need to stop explaining and educating. Sometimes we need to walk away. That’s not our fault. It’s not something that we did wrong.
Sometimes our coming out doesn’t change our family, but it does change us. It gives us the freedom to stand in our truth.
And sure, we can talk about the politics of coming out, how it shouldn’t be expected, how queer folks shouldn’t be the only ones that have to come out, how being out is different for transgender folks. All of those conversations are important and necessary. But the fact remains that any time you can be all of who you are with other people you are better for it. It allows you to move through the world differently and with a weight off your chest. It’s beautiful.
So let’s hold on to the sappy stories with happy endings. And let’s acknowledge that coming out sucks for some people. And let’s hold the complexity that even if coming out sucks and your family is awful about it that it doesn’t make your coming out tragic. It doesn’t make you as a queer or trans person tragic.
Sometimes your family doesn’t come around. And so you grieve and you find new family and you surround yourself with the love that you absolutely and without a doubt deserve.