A not-so-short essay on the dark ages of my pre-college life, boys who play football, boys who like basketball, boys who like boys, boys who are assholes, and why I love “Love, Simon.” So much.
Short disclaimer that this gets pretty Gay — but it shouldn’t matter! Also to those who haven’t watched the movie, you might want to pass up on this read first so you don’t spoil yourself — but you really should watch the movie. Seriously.
The movie Love, Simon definitely wasn’t new to me. I’m pretty sure I read the book back in 2015; when Justin Bieber’s Purpose was such a huge thing, soirees were called ‘swaswas.’ ‘Seeeshhh,’ ‘pereeh,’ protein shakes and search-in was all the rage. GH was being GH, GH boys were busy being GH boys, and I was still too scared to even just buy the book at the National Bookstore of Greenhills.
The book was called “Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda” — and back then, people knew it was kind of a gay book but nobody really knew that Ian Tagle, the quiet new kid, liked boys. I was too scared to buy the book since the place was a go-to joint of GH boys when the Benilde Canteen bookstore was out of stock of school supplies. But I still bought it — though, I had to hide it from my mom since I was at that age where moms ask what thing their anak bought after making pasundo at Gh. And I’d hate to have to explain to my mom what the book was.
I wasn’t always this out. Or happy. There are definitely key moments from my childhood where I remember “slipping up.”
- When I was 5, I remember being scolded by my mom for trying on her heels, asking her what make-up was, or having too many girl playmates. I remember play cooking for the other boys on her scented candles.
- When I was 8, I remember staring at my classmate named Keane too long. I remember wondering why. He was a boy.
- When I was 9, I remember learning how to cuss — how to say “puta” or “gago” or “tang ina mo gago ka anak ng pokpok!” I also remember learning how to say “bakla ka” or “bading” or “tangina mo subo mo titi ko!” I remember feeling wrong when I said it.
- When I was 11, I remember telling my mom “Ma, if I could, I would kill lahat ng mga bading! Super kadiri!” and I kind of remember her saying, “Don’t do that anak, but pray for them to be guided na lang.” I also remember starting to have access to the internet later that year.
- When I was 12, I remember searching up all kinds of things on the internet. I remember some of my classmates starting to have crushes on our female teachers – Ms. Tanya, Ms. Cristine, Ms. Virna, etc. I remember not getting the hype, but I remember riding with it.
- When I was 13, my dad started getting me into boy stuff. I remember football on saturday mornings, fencing clinic, and basketball with male cousins. Those usually didn’t make me feel so good.
- When I was 14, I remember understanding. Realizing what I was, and thinking about what I had to do to stop it. I remember guilty prayers and long confessions. I remember learning how to sleep alone in my room.
- When I was 15, I switched high schools. I remember meeting an awesome girl. I remember watching the screening of Divergent and holding her hands. I remember being a little disgusted with myself.
- When I was 16, I remember calling it off with the girl. She’s now one of my bestest friends. I remember telling her why I had to call it off. I remember crying. She was the first one I came out to. That summer, I also remember swimming every day at our clubhouse pool to see this one boy my age. He was always there when I swam. I remember seeing the boy when we had mass at the clubhouse. He was an altar server. I remember my mom noticing him noticing me. I remember her getting so mad and staring the boy down. I remember being so scared. I don’t remember having anticipated mass at that clubhouse again.
- When I was 17, I switched back high schools to GH. I was so scared when I returned. I knew nothing about drinking, weed, or sex. I no longer recognized the boys I used to hang out with back in grade school. I was alone with no friends in a pretty fucked up place. I remember a football team captain, a school president, and a singer that I liked. I remember a classmate calling me out for being too good at volleyball, threatening me by saying that I should have a girlfriend when he sees me in college. I remember crying out of relief when I got my UPCAT result knowing I would never get to be ‘me’ in any other school.
Those are definitely a lot of slip-ups but for some reason my family still can’t take a hint. If you could tell the young me about who I am now, I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t believe you. If you told him how much more talkative and loud and happy he will be, well, I kind of hope he believes you.
“Love, Simon” provided me with the closure I needed from its book version three years ago. Providing me with hope that generally lacked in my life and reminding me of who I was before, and how far I’ve come from who I used to be.
The thing is, Love, Simon is such a simple movie. When you hear about gay movies you kind of think about artroom nuanced deephouse films that somehow end in a tragedy (i.e. Brokeback Mountain, Call Me By Your Name, Moonlight etc). And Love, Simon is not at all what that is. It’s a fucking romcom that would have normally been played by a heterosexual couple! The quips, the jokes, the banter, and the laughter along with this awkward typical teenage love story hasn’t ever been paired with two teenage boys in love — and that’s why this movie is such an important first! Sue me when I say that the film gives us something to aspire towards — that is how we should be as friends, as siblings, as lovers, as parents.
Holy shit, after watching the movie, there was nothing more I wanted than to just tell my mom and dad how I really felt and about who I am. I think we all deserve the parents the movie had to offer.
Love, Simon gave me, a gay teenager, the classic, cheesy-at-times, romcom experience that straight people of all ages have taken for granted their entire lives because they’ve always had it. But at the same time, the kind of romance shown highlighted the fact that this kind of romance does not necessarily have to look different from ones we’ve seen before! A lot of falling in love in high school is universal no matter who you are. Even if you’re a boy who likes boys.
I can definitely say that it hurts not to experience love — especially not in the way straight people get to: very young, in school, publicly, during puberty. Over the years, I think I’ve struggled with what love really looks like and feels like because I don’t even get to feel that kind of love from my own parents.
Every day is a struggle with being alone when I get home. And although the friends I’ve made and the life I have in college is the only thing left keeping me sane, I grieve over what could’ve been with my family.
Nevertheless, I’m much happier now.
As Simon said,
“I’m done living in a world, where I don’t get to be who I am. I deserve a great love story.”
im such a fan i even made a playlist holy shit HAHA
P.S. thank you lia for the movie tickets hehehe i will forever be grateful, probably even when im 40.