A story centred around a cis white gay young man just isn’t groundbreaking any more.
Love, Simon on the surface may look like a film driven by bigotry and prejudice. It is to be seen as a coming-of-age romance. But the big original twist is that the main character is gay. Thirty years ago, this would’ve been huge. In fact it would’ve been so huge that white middle-aged Tory women would’ve been complaining that it’s irresponsible and will confuse their precious children.
It’s not the 80s, it’s not even the 90s, it’s 2018. Gay men have dealt with huge amounts of abuse, torment, prejudice and discrimination, and they still do. No one is taking that away from them, but there are so many people in the queer community being ignored. While the whole of the queer community is experiencing a surge in attacks due to their identities over the last couple of years, some parts of the community are experiencing it much worse than others.
For starters, the stats on abuse (both verbally, physically and mentally) that the trans community has to deal with is still astonishing. Yet, this is an issue that’s only just starting to be talked about now. Because of that, Hollywood has generally stayed away from trans stories, or positive representations of trans characters – unless it is for cis actors to cash in on trans roles.
Isn’t it interesting that when a film or TV show does decide to include a queer character, they’re almost always white? But queer people of colour are suffering. Not only do they have to deal with the current uptake in nationalism and underline racism in countries such as America and the UK, but they also have to deal with prejudice around their sexuality. In fact, EROC (End Rape On Campus) found that 53% of LGBTQ people of colour are victims of hate crimes. This isn’t including the victims that don’t speak up. So why isn’t the story of a queer person of colour being explored more as the main story-line rather than a side-plot?
“queer people of colour are suffering. Not only do they have to deal with the current uptake in nationalism and underline racist in countries such as America and the UK, but they also have to deal with prejudice around their sexuality.”
Another part of the community that seems to be suffering in silence is bisexual women. They have to contend with the constant onslaught of “you’re a traitor” if they happen to be in a relationship with someone of the opposite sex, but they’re also almost twice as likely to be abused by a partner. Bisexuality is generally used in Hollywood to show that a woman is sexy and free, but barely ever as a significant part of a character’s story. It’s a sexuality that’s rarely explored on TV and in film, and when it is, it’s generally derogatory.
Love, Simon is not groundbreaking. It’s about a cis white, gay young man. But the aspect of the film that makes it even more offensive to the queer community is that the actor playing Simon is in fact straight. Nick Robinson is a decent young actor who’s getting his fair share of film roles right now. But he’s not gay. How can a straight man ever truly understand what it’s like to be gay? And before the arguments of “he’s an actor, he can pretend” come out, there’s no reason for him to. There are plenty of brilliant gay actors in Hollywood right now that could’ve taken the part. There are even more budding young gay actors that could’ve only dreamed of landing a role such as this.
If you’re going to tell the least inspiring queer story, at least cast a gay actor to play the main role.
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