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Why I Loved “Love, Simon” (and why you should see it)

We’d been invited to screenings of “Love, Simon,” the new movie adapted from author Becky Albertalli‘s 2015 young adult novel “Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda,” over the past several weeks. Because of schedule conflicts we couldn’t work any of the dates offered into our already crazily busy life. So last week when I saw that a nearby theater had a preview screening scheduled for tonight I quickly snagged a pair of tickets so my husband Joseph and I could attend.

I’d seen the trailer and read some early reviews, so I was aware of the basic premise, but to be honest, I wasn’t prepared for all the emotions and triggers that were in store for me. You see, I was that young man, albeit it 35 or so years ago. With a lot less technology at my fingertips. Social media? That wasn’t even a term in the 1980’s. Just like in Simon’s case, we too had one openly gay guy in school (impressive in and of itself at the time in Gaston County, North Carolina), whose visibility left an impression on me that I’ve never forgotten. But I digress…

“I’m just like you, except I have one huge-ass secret.” Boy, did they get that one right! Just like Simon, I had been holding onto my secret since I was about 12. In fact, one of my earliest memories of “gay” – not that I knew exactly what it was – surfaced within the past several years as I’ve begun working with others to help them share their own stories.

I can remember it like it was yesterday. It was 1976 – I know the year because I did a bit of research, just to make sure, once the memory surfaced – I was sitting next to my grandmother watching a television show called “Alice” about a single mother working as a waitress and raising a teenage son in Phoenix. In that particular episode, Alice was dating a retired professional football player who came out as gay. The minute he said the words “Alice, I’m gay” my grandmother stood up, walked over to the television set (they didn’t have remote controls in those days), changed the channel and sat back down.

At that age I wasn’t exactly sure what “gay” actually meant, but based on my grandmother’s reaction I was pretty sure it wasn’t something that society in general – and my grandmother in particular – was terribly fond of, so I’m guessing that experience pushed me further into the closet for several years. If “gay” was so bad that it would cause her to change the channel on a show that both of us liked watching I figured it wasn’t something I should be a part of. But, like Simon, I soon learned that I wasn’t a “part of” gay; it was – and is – a part of me.

But enough about me. “Love, Simon” is possibly one of the most important films to be released in recent years. It’s the first one I can remember being released by a major Hollywood studio featuring a gay teen in the lead role. Especially in these turbulent political times, when the LGBT civil rights movement is facing, in many cases, government-sanctioned backlash from the gains our community has made in recent years, teens need to see someone like themselves featured on screen. From my perspective, that objective was achieved in this movie.

The casting directors couldn’t have picked better actors to portray the roles, especially Jennifer Garner and Josh Duhamel, who play Simon’s parents. One scene, in particular, pulled at my heartstrings. After Simon is already out to his family and his school, he comes home one day and his dad is taking down the Christmas lights. They experience an emotional moment where his father apologizes to him for missing all the signs. Not lecturing him for his “lifestyle,” but genuinely apologetic for any jokes that he might have told that Simon could have perceived as being homophobic, displaying a real loving concern that he might have accidentally and unintentionally hurt his son.

That’s a far cry from what many people, especially those in my generation, experienced after coming out to their own parents, although to be fair it was a different time and the resources we have today weren’t readily available. My own parents, in particular, have long since made up for anything they may have said or done at the time because they genuinely didn’t understand.

As for the one openly gay kid I knew in high school? We’ve been reconnected on social media for several years now and tonight as the credits were rolling I sent him a message that said “Just got done seeing ‘Love, Simon.’ I’m a triggered, blubbering mess 😜❤️🙂 All good triggers, but triggers just the same.”

I forgot to say one thing in that message – and that was “thank you.”

Love, Simon” opens tomorrow nationwide. CLICK HERE to watch the trailer.

Charles Chan Massey is the co-founder and Vice President of One Million Kids for Equality and co-founder and Executive Director of The Personal Stories Project. He refers to himself as an “Accidental Activist” because just like he didn’t choose to be gay, he didn’t choose to become an activist. Activism chose him. You can reach Charles at charles@onemillionkids.org.

This story was co-published with the Personal Stories Project.

One Million Kids and The Personal Stories Project to Host 2nd Annual Garden Party and Mixer In Los Angeles

Do you like schmoozing on Saturday? Do you like parties with open bars and free food? Do you consider yourself an LGBTQ activist or ally? Do you like to travel or live in the greater Los Angeles area? If your answer to any of those questions is yes, then have we got the party for you!Come out Saturday, April 21st, to our garden party benefiting The Personal Stories Project and One Million Kids For Equality.

Registration:

Early Bird (Before March 15th):
$125 Event Host
$100 Very Important Person
$75 Affluent Advocate
$30 Starving Artist

Registration (After March 15th):
$150 Event Host
$125 Very Important Person
$100 Affluent Advocate
$35 Starving Artist

Registration (Day of Event):
$160 Event Host
$135 Very Important Person
$110 Affluent Advocate
$40 Starving Artist


Food/Beverages:

An open bar with liquor, wine, beer, Hors d’oeuvres, and deserts will provided.

Entertainment:

Music for the afternoon will be provided by the extremely talented, Rob C and Alessa Ray.

Party Hosts:

Joseph Chan & Charles Chan Massey
Brad Delaney
Nikki and David Duncan
Donna Shaw
Tom Carmichael

Where the money goes:

10% (TBA) LGBTQ Youth Serving Nonprofit

45% Personal Stories Project’s Digital Storytelling Program

45% One Million Kids For Equality’s Monthly Storytelling Events

Guests will also have the opportunity to help assemble personal hygiene kits to be donated to a youth homelessness organization – this is optional for anyone interested in helping.

FAQs

Are there ID or minimum age requirements to enter the event?

Nope! This event is open to all ages. If you are under the age of 21, we operate on an honor system, but we ask that you please refrain from consuming alcohol.

Is there parking available at or around the venue?

There are a limited number of off-street parking spaces available. Once they run out, then there is also street parking available. If you need off-street parking, we recommend you come early as it fills up fast.

How can I contact the organizer with any questions?

You can reach Brad at brad@onemillionkids.org and Charles at charles@personalstoriesproject.org.

Do I have to bring my printed ticket to the event?

To speed up the check-in process, we ask that you please bring your printed ticket with you. But we understand that uh ohs happen. If you forget your ticket, we should be able to find you on our list at the door. Please inform our attendant if you registered the day of the event and we will get you squared away.

Is my registration fee or ticket transferrable?

Yes! We understand that scheduling conflicts occur from time to time. While we can’t offer a refund, we are happy to transfer your ticket to another attendee. Please contact Brad at brad@onemillionkids.org and he will get you taken care of.