In recent years there has been a noticeable influx of LGBT+ representation in Hollywood, with movies such as Call Me By Your Name, Moonlight, and Blue Is The Warmest Colour all winning critical acclaim as well as appealing to a mainstream audience.
Love, Simon, based on Becky Albertalli’s book Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, is the latest coming of age film that is taking the LGBT+ community by storm, with the high school rom-com being widely credited for its fresh and inspiring portrayal of a gay love story.
In fact, many fans have taken to social media to reveal that Love, Simon has given them the encouragement that they needed to embrace their identity and come out to their own friends and family, a sentiment that sadly isn’t echoed within the film industry.
Despite the increased representation of the LGBT+ community onscreen, being an openly gay actor in Hollywood is still relatively taboo – a topic that we were keen to discuss with Love, Simon’s stars, Nick Robinson and 13 Reasons Why’s Katherine Langford, and director Greg Berlanti.
Speaking to Yahoo Movies UK, Katherine admitted that coming out is “tremendously scary” in the industry, explaining: “There has definitely been progression from nothing in terms of representation in the LGBTQ community but I also feel like there’s a lot of under-representation and hopefully films like Love, Simon will help open more of these stories to a mainstream audience.
“I can’t speak about it personally because I am not an openly gay actor but I definitely have friends who are both openly out and aren’t and it is tremendously scary to come out, particularly in the industry.
“I think it’s a mixture of people just not believing, or thinking for whatever reason someone’s sexual orientation somehow shapes them as a person.
“I think it takes a tremendous amount of courage to stand up and openly declare your sexual orientation as an artist and as an actor, but I hope that it can change, because it should.”
Greg agreed, adding: “I do think times are changing, there are definitely a lot more actors who are openly gay than there were when I was younger.
“I think the next generation are so open and so aware of sexuality and gender, and understanding about in a way that my generation wasn’t, change like that just keeps coming and coming and coming and the arc trends up.”
Katherine also cited the importance of films like Love, Simon in helping young people come to terms with their own sexual identities, telling us: “This story is well overdue; it’s 2018 and this is the first major studio making a mainstream coming of age love story around a gay teenage protagonist.
“It’s about time the LGBTQ community had a mainstream film like this around a teenager and it’s important for young people to know that they’re not alone and that their story is valid and valuable enough to be heard.
“This isn’t necessarily the one representation of all LGBTQ people, but I hope that it can be a good starting point to start more stories like this and more conversations like this, which will hopefully lead to more understanding and acceptance.”
Greg revealed that as an openly gay man he also found the response to Love, Simon “validating”, sharing: “I’ll encourage everyone to see it in the theatre, especially anybody in the LGBT+ community because one of the things that has been so great to see is how much everyone that watches the film roots for this kid to have a happy ending.
“It gets very vocal, especially towards the end – it’s a Hollywood ending, the cheers that you see when he gets his Hollywood ending have been really validating, and as an openly gay person myself that’s good to watch.”
Love, Simon is released in UK cinemas on 6 April.