'Love, Simon’ and lessons on coming out
I must have cried buckets watching Love, Simon, a rare gem of a movie about coming out.
My own story is not movie-worthy like Simon Spier's, the main protagonist, but I believe every gay person who has come out went through the same bouts of confusion, loneliness, and anger.
Like Simon, many of us have encountered people underestimating how hard it is to be in the closet and how big a decision it is to admit to everyone that you’re gay.
It teaches us, even an out gay person like me, important lessons about stepping out of the closet and reminds us that in the gay community’s fight for equality and respect, there’s still a lot of work to be done.
Coming out is a big deal
The first and most important lesson we can learn from Simon is that coming out is anything but easy.
When you’re straight, it’s so easy to dismiss coming out as something trivial. People are more tolerant of gay people now anyway, aren't they?
But it’s not all about what other people would think. Before we go out and ask people to respect our being gay, we need to come to terms with it ourselves first, which is a slow and painful process.
First, we start noticing the things that make us different: Why do I like people of the same sex? Why do I not feel happy being like everybody else? Am I gay?
Then we start making excuses and try to make sense of what we’re feeling: Maybe it’s just a phase? Maybe I’m just misinterpreting myself? Maybe I’m just overthinking, and if I ignore it, it will just fade away?
When we’re out of excuses and finally learn to accept that we’re gay, we start weighing the pros and cons of coming out: Will my family understand? Will my friends accept me? Will it affect my future? Is it really worth it?
Before we decide to come out, we debate with ourselves again and again. For some, this takes years.
What we really want to hear from you
But what people don’t understand, as the movie conveyed perfectly, is that what really scares us about coming out is not knowing how our whole lives could change.
At the end of the day, it’s really just the feeling of uncertainty that makes coming out very hard.
You see, many of us have lived our whole lives pretending to be someone we’re not, believing it’s more convenient that way.
We often have mixed feelings about being closeted. On one hand, we hate it because we can’t truly be ourselves, and on the other, we’re so scared of what lies outside the closet that we feel like it’s more comfortable to just stay inside.
So when we come out, we’d be grateful if you tell us that you’re “okay" with us being gay, but what we really want to hear from you is that nothing between us will change.
Because more than anything, we just need to be assured that by giving up our "practical" closeted lives, we won't lose the people that matter to us.
We want you to tell us that we’re still the same friend you hang out with every day. We want our parents to say that we’re still the same child they raised and loved.
That means you're not just tolerating the fact that we're gay, but that you're accepting us for who we are.
Of course we’re also wary of how badly the LGBT and other minorities are treated in society, but what's really important for us is that the people we love and who loved us when we were "straight" will still be there.
Getting dragged out of the closet is the worst
Just like Simon, I have been dragged out of the closet myself, and it’s the worst feeling in the world.
I always knew my family somehow felt that I am gay, but I never really had the courage to talk to them about it, and they also never tried to ask me.
One night, I came home to my mom and her boyfriend having an argument. Apparently, her boyfriend had been telling her that he found out that I’m gay, and that I was in a relationship with a guy (I did have a boyfriend then). I didn’t know how to respond and my world started to sink. I was scared, sad, and angry at the same time.
I felt disrespected. I should have been the one to tell my mom that I’m gay, when I’m ready. But that right was so easily taken away from me.
Good thing, though, that I have the world’s most understanding mom. Instead of asking me about it, she furiously told her boyfriend that “she does not care if I’m gay” and that it’s “not his business.” Right there and then, my mom said that she’d love me just the same.
But as I’ve said earlier, coming out is a huge decision for us, and we all do it in different ways. It’s easier for some and harder for others.
This is why I always find it problematic how many people seem to think that they have the right to expose someone else’s sexuality.
For some reason, we’re always compelled to decide whether someone’s gay or not, nevermind that he’s yet to figure it out himself. Many of us treat outing someone like it’s some kind of an achievement. What’s worse is that even members of the LGBT community, myself included, are also often too quick to judge and label other people as gay, even if they haven’t come out yet.
For what? To prove that we have awesome detective skills? To boast about having strong “gaydar”?
You’re not alone
These are all why I’m happy that a movie like Love, Simon was made.
Love, Simon is packed with lessons for everyone, no matter your gender or preference. For an out gay person like me, it will help you realize just how common your struggles are – something that needs to change. If you’re closeted, it might just help you find the courage to come out.
If you’re straight, the process of coming out may be hard to grasp, but it’s something you also need to understand. You’re all bound to meet at least one or two gay people in your life – let Love, Simon give you a glimpse of what it’s like to walk in our shoes.
Because just like what Simon said, everybody deserves a great love story. – Rappler.com