For the holiday season, the bookstore I work at is making a display of all the employees’ favorite books of 2020. Each of us had to pick 5 favorite to put on there. My own list was pretty extensive, so choices had to be made. In the process of deciding what to choose, I left out sequels such as Harrow the Ninth, or massive cultural successes that obviously didn’t need my help to sell, such as Isabel Wilkerson’s Caste.
With that in mind, I am very happy with the end result. It unintentionally ends up promoting small press, debut authors, and queer identities, and this feels like the little bit that I can do to help this year suck a tiny bit less.
To clarify, this is not a ranked list. I love each of those five titles for different reasons, and I am not looking to pit them against one another. Feel free to click on each title to read my review.
As a gay man, I didn’t grow up suffering. Sure, I was in denial, I repressed a lot of shit, and I missed on my entire teenagehood. That sucked. But I didn’t get disowned. I was never bullied. I have rarely been discriminated against.
I was never sent to conversion therapy…
A part of me feels the need for vicarious trauma. For personal outrage, despite the lack of personal experience. It is a profoundly disturbing mixture of perverted FOMO and guilt. As a Queer person, do I really own myself if I didn’t suffer? Do I have a right to my identity? The answer is, naturally, yes, of course I do. But the feeling is still there, and it makes books like Adam Sass’ Surrender Your Sons a near-cathartic experience.
At the age of 17, Connor Major is a skinny 5’6 gay kid in rural Illinois, who just came out to his church-zombie single mom. His life is, as a result, not awesome. His phone has been confiscated, so he is isolated from his few friends. His two-towns-over boyfriend is unable to fully comprehend what he is dealing with at home. And his mom and the town preacher insist that he admit to the paternity of his ex-girlfriend’s newborn (he didn’t do it!).
The best, however, is yet to come, as Connor finds himself literally kidnapped and carted off to a remote island off the coast of Costa Rica (no dinosaurs though). There, at Nightlight Ministries, boys and girls like him are sent by overzealous parents to get “fixed”. Except, everything is off, even by conversion therapy standards. And Connor was warned about this place back home.
By someone who is now dead.
When I first read the blurb for this YA thriller, I was both immediately on board, and a bit skeptical. Conversion therapy? In 2020? In this economy? But Sass navigates the anachronistic core of his premise with elegance. By hanging a lantern on the absurdity of such a place in present day, he gets to place it in an exotic location. What’s more, he gets to have his characters have a near-meta understanding of their surroundings, as they navigate not only the camp itself, but its cultural context as well.
Surrender Your Sons is a brilliantly written debut. The book exudes the kind of easy sass (pun forever intended) and colloquial flexibility that always make me ugly-jealous. Connor himself is beautifully portrayed as a neurotic kid who has the capacity for both courage, and complete emotional collapse. The rest of the cast are just as well depicted, if in less detail. There is raw vulnerability and innocence coming out of the intimate first person narrative, even when the circumstances around Connor are anything but innocent.
As I said before, this is a thriller. The back cover suggests more of a mystery than the story actually ends up being. But to me, the mismatch between my expectations and the reality were in favor of the book. Surrender Your Sons is a story about tragedy, both past and present. About violence and the desolation that bigotry and self-loathing can heap upon the world. One sentence in particular stuck with me long after the end:
‘That’s what a hate crime does: it reaches out, through space and time, and touches you with a greasy hand.’
The book begins with a content warning. There are themes in there. Suicide, abuse, and surprisingly hot depictions of sex that must have barely passed the YA standard. Despite the effortless prose, Surrender Your Sons is certainly not an easy read on an emotional level.
Sass ends up weaving a story both more mundane, and more personal than the blurb implies. And far stronger for it. I read the last 50 pages with perma-lump in my throat, as one of the best denouements I have ever seen in a book meticulously takes us through the lives harmed or ruined by Nightlight. In the end, Surrender Your Sons was an exciting adventure with a powerful emotional charge. Dealing with serious darkness, but ultimately hopeful. And I thoroughly loved it.
Sorry for the topical pun, which will cease to make sense within a week. But as I am halfway through Mary Trump’s unflattering and devastatingly empathetic portrait of her uncle, the title has been percolating in my head. This post is about something else however.
I have been reading a lot lately. My life is in the middle of some significant changes. For good and for bad, alas, but both aspects amount to more reading time. It’s a borderline feverish state of ingesting books, and it feels amazing! Reading has always been therapeutic for me, and working at a bookstore, it also makes me feel connected to my job.
On that note, apparently I am good at hyping up things and making people buy them. Who knew!
A bit of housekeeping. Last week I mentioned reading Sam Lansky’s Broken People. I ended up absolutely loving the book, but the reasons for that are a tad too personal to really talk about in a coherent review format. His story resonated with my own current circumstances, underlying mental health issues, and overall life experience in a way that never really matched, but at the same time informed them. I don’t even know if I could recommend it to people, because the experience was so personal.
Anyway, here’s to reading, and having complicated experiences with books!
My one and only experience visiting Los Angeles was very contradictory. There is a profound sense of nihilistic romanticism about this city. A glorified shallowness that translates into some kind of higher purpose loneliness. Yet, even during the winter holiday season, it was mostly just hot and spread out. More a network of suburbs than a coherent city. On a day-to-day level, the experience was a bit boring, mostly dedicated to endless Uber rides.
And the lack of bookstores was a surprising drain on my psyche.
At the same time however, there was a curious static charge in the air. Hollywood. The movies. The history of the movies. We took several studio tours, and I loved every second of them. LA lives and breathes its conceit, and it makes you believe in it, whether you want to, or not. A couple of years later, I struggle to recall the things that bothered me about the city. The memory has acquired a patina of romance and timeless melancholia. Up until now, I had even forgotten how literally nobody in that place can whip up a decent Bloody Mary!
I promise I am going somewhere with this wildly long prelude. I was listening to a recent episode of Crooked Media‘s podcast Keep It, featuring an interview with author Sam Lansky. Something about the way he talked about his new semi-memoir-semi-fictional novel Broken People resonated with me. It brought my own feelings about LA, despite the obvious differences between me and him. Lansky’s youth, spent back in New York City before he moved across coasts, is way more dramatic than mine. In fact, our experiences have little in common on pretty much every level.
But the “anxious late 20s/early 30s gay” voice ensnared me immediately.
I am only two chapters into the book so far, but this voice is so wonderfully clear, and it evokes so many of the feelings I both had, and have absorbed through media about LA, that I am already in love with it. It’s not really the type of work I review on this blog, but if it inspires something more, I still might, once I finish the book.
We live in tumultuous times. COVID-19 is here to stay, with incompetent governments mistaking wishful thinking for policy, exposing us to it on purpose. Massive global protests have finally forced us to face point blank the reality of police brutality against people of color. The economy is working for no one but the richest few.
Pandemic, economic collapse, MURDER HORNETS!
But nothing in this apocalyptic year so far is nearly as bad – nearly as horrifying – as… *checks notes*… uh, people who menstruate, according to J.K. Rowling.
In his original essay, La morte d’auteur, French literary critic Roland Barthes argues that the text is an independent entity from its author. His claim can be boiled down to ‘there are too many dimensions to any work of literature, for interpretation to be limited by the context of authorial intent’.
We live in an era of social reckoning. Trying to come to terms with how – frankly – awful many revered writers actually were (or still are). ‘The death of the author’ has acquired a new meaning. It is now used as a reason to continue enjoying works by shitty people. ‘The work is not the author, so why should I forsake both?’ There is merit to this position, but there are legitimate counter-arguments as well.
For one thing, it is easy to not care about the author when the author is no longer around. Sure, Wagner was a scamming homewrecker and a virulent anti-Semite. But Wagner is also incredibly dead, and his works are free domain. Ditto good old Howie Lovecraft, who may have been so shockingly racist, that even fellow racists of his time were like ‘Dude, come on…’, but plenty of wonderful people have since used his work to create diverse art that absolutely rejects his personal worldviews.
But what do we do when the author is very much alive? When they actively profit from our consumption of their work? Yes, I am very obviously referring to the newest TERF-y bullshit of J.K. Rowling. Who is apparently living through, and I quote, ‘the most misogynistic period I’ve ever experienced’. And seems to think it’s trans people’s fault. A horribly tone-deaf position from a person who has had every possible opportunity and privilege to learn better. She is not unique, of course. Plenty of artists have revealed themselves to hold one bigotry or another, be it because they were exposed, or because they wear it proudly on their sleeve for all to see.
There is no point in naming names. If you are part of ANY kind of minority, you know a bunch of living creators who think you are not entitled to the rights and dignity they have. Or that by you gaining anything, they will lose something.
So, do you want to give them your money? I know I don’t. But does their awfulness surgically remove all the experiences you’ve had with their works before you knew who they were? I do not believe that it does. Or at least not automatically.
I learned about Orson Scott Card’s rampant homophobia at a very intense period of my life. I was still adjusting to my own coming out as gay and my place in the world. The shock was too big. I’d had a lot of love for his books, but I could no longer read them without feeling grossed out. It affected me personally.
But Harry Potter has had a far bigger place in my growing up than Ender’s Game ever could. And I am not trans. I try to be as good an ally as I know how, but ultimately Rowling’s awfulness is not personal for me the way it is for my trans friends. And even to some of them, the messages, joy, warmth, and feelings of safety they’ve derived from these books are still there.
Are they wrong? Should they hate the books, now that the author has shown herself time and again to be garbage? Should I?
No. In the end, there is no ‘should’ here. Liking things is subjective. Supporting things has many levels. Nobody should be forced to reject something they love if they haven’t lost that love on their own. Having to separate the creator from the creation is already trauma enough.
I love Harry Potter. It is a flawed work from a flawed author, but it’s been with me for a very long time. I have too many good memories associated with it, and rejecting it would mean rejecting them as well.Will I give Rowling more money in the future, be it for books, or the movies based on them? Honestly, I don’t think I will. But this is a separate issue from appreciating a series I already own.
Art is subjective on every level. From its creator, through the work itself, to the one it’s meant for. It has to be considered on a case by case basis, or it stops being art. If J.K. Rowling is your Orson Scott Card, and your feelings of her works are too tainted to maintain any positive emotion for them, that’s ok. If you are disgusted by her, but you still love Harry Potter, that’s ok too. If her behavior has inspired you to find and read fantasy and science fiction from trans and non-binary authors – that’s AWESOME!
There is no rule for how to deal with disappointment, and anyone that tells you there is, doesn’t understand what art is.
My Vorkossigan Saga re-“reading” project on Audible just covered a book I had never read before. Ethan of Athos is a side story that only mentions Miles. Furthermore, it wasn’t even published in Bulgarian back when I read the series as a teenager. So, it was fun to experience something new in that universe.
It’s a lukewarm spy action story on a space station. We’ve all read those (and if you haven’t — what’s the matter with you?!), and Ethan delivers nothing new. With that said, it is also a story of a gay man, coming from an all-male planet that relies on technology for procreation. It does it awkwardly, with outdated ideas of bigotry that already aren’t all that prevalent, and are unlikely to survive a galactic expansion.
Now, we can all agree that the Vorkossigan Saga isn’t the most progressive series in the galaxy by today’s standards. The rigid duality of male and female, the cringe-inducing use of “it” to describe in-between genders. The overtly patriarchal and classist undertones. It doesn’t hold up when placed next to works like Ancillary Justice for example.
But most of the Vorkossigan Saga was written a long time ago, and by those standards, it is staggering how progressive it actually is.
Ethan of Athos was published in 1986. For all that I find Ethan himself to be obnoxiously naive, snooty, and annoying, he is a sympathetic portrayal of a gay man dealing with homophobia and misguided prejudice. And thriving. What’s more, Bujold gave him to us in the midst of the AIDS epidemic, in the year when the term “HIV” was created. In a mainstream entertainment genre, as part of an already successful series.
When viewed through the lens of that time period, Ethan of Athos is a truly remarkable work. And while it will never get near my favorite list of stories in that universe, I am very happy to have read it. Apparently, I could love Lois McMaster Bujold more.
Disclaimer: This is going to get opinionated. I want to preface it with saying that I am a massive fan of Harry Potter, and I utterly adore Bonds of Brass. What I am about to say should be taken as a broad commentary about the nature of fiction, rather than dissing either work, or its author.
There is something that has been chewing on the sides of my brain ever since I wrote my review of Bonds of Brass.
No, just kidding (kind of). It was Emily Skrutskie’s tweet (and comments in other places), stating that the two main characters of the book were bisexual, when they were not coded as such in the book itself. I have been trying to examine why this statement bugged me so much, and I realized it has nothing to do with identity.
Instead, it’s about what is on the page, and what isn’t.
Now, if the title hasn’t forced your mind in that direction, let me just remind the world that, at present, J.K. Rowling is the undisputed champion in extra-literary revisions. With every new tweet about the Wizarding World, she erodes our love for her books a tiny bit more, but it goes further than that — she adds information that was never part of the narrative of those books. That is not a problem for some people, but it is a massive issue for others.
I think there are two fundamental approaches to perceiving fiction (just kidding, there are a million. But stay with me on this one). You can treat it as an alternate reality that you are viewing form the window of the book/screen/whatever; or you can treat it as a work of art, with its internal rules and limitations — a sort of fourth-wall approach, in which you are aware of your role as a spectator. The two are not mutually exclusive, of course. In fact, I think they always intertwine to an extent. But in their extremes, they lead to different perceptions of the reality of the work.
If you see the fictional story as something real and independent of your perception, you can easily incorporate any piece of external information into the work. Such as — you guessed it! — Dumbledore being gay. It’s not in the Harry Potter books. It’s not hinted at, it’s not implied. There is literally nothing you can even retrospectively point at, and say “This codes Dumbledore’s sexuality”. If anything, he is the quintessential ace character — a wise old mentor archetype with no sexuality whatsoever.
But if you think of him as a real person, existing independently of the books that tell his story, he could easily be gay. The narrative isn’t about his personal life, after all, right? It’s plausible that it wouldn’t come up.
I don’t think in those terms. And I won’t claim that my approach is “the right one”, because hey — who am I, really, to tell you how to enjoy fiction? But I have always been on the opposite end of the spectrum. I hate fan theories with a fiery passion. I avoid forums that discuss ongoing fantasy series like the plague. No, Tyler, Daenerys is NOT secretly Tyrion’s niece. Jaime didn’t kill his mother. Arya doesn’t have a secret Braavosi lover.
You know why? Because they don’t exist.
These people are made up. Their experiences only ever occur in the fiction that features them. They don’t have independent life outside of it. I will not speculate as to the secret thoughts and actions of non-existent people, because the writer can, at any point, choose to take them in any direction they please. Sometimes — sadly — they do it specifically to subvert the expectations of fan speculation.
This is why the bisexuality of the Bonds of Brass boys bugged me so much. Because that is a story based around romance, and that romance is same-sex. That’s what is presented inside the book, and that’s all that exists of these two entities. Claiming otherwise, even as the writer, implies that they have a life outside of the work, that there are further dimensions to them that I am not privy to. And for all I know, maybe future books in the trilogy will blast their bisexuality in my face. I won’t love those two disasters any less for it.
But in the mean time, I believe that the work is the work, and only the work is canon. It doesn’t matter whether my story is about any particular kind of identity or circumstance. If it matters to me that my readers perceive my characters in any specific way, it is the simplest thing in the world to code them that way, without ever making it a focus of the narrative. A stray thought. A random line of dialogue. Someone casually noticing the attractiveness of someone else.
We are writers. The world of our own work is our butt-monkey. There is nothing we can’t make known to the reader, if we so choose.
In the actual real world that we live in, labels are still important, and identity is the nexus of social and political fights that have defined generations. Hetero is still the norm. Same-sex relationships still read “gay” or “lesbian”. Therefore, if we want to paint our characters in more complex colors (even when we are placing them in a post-identity world), we have to code them as such within the work.
I shouldn’t have to read J.K.’s tweets in order to know something so profound about one of her series’ most important characters. But BOOOOY would I love some hot and steamy prequel story about young Albus getting it on with another dude!
I found out about Bonds of Brass by a random Twitter-induced happenstance. Someone I followed had liked a tweet by Emily Skrutskie, in which she described her upcoming YA novel. And the promise of a M/M romance, set in a space opera of imperial intrigues and starfighters, was all I needed to pre-order. Luckily, I also snagged an ARC of it at C2E2, and I devoured it in two sittings.
Bonds of Brass takes place in the distant future, in which humans have spread out into the galaxy and formed vast empires that now challenge each other. Ettian is a young pilot, training to fight for the brutal empire that destroyed the one he was born in. Having shed the past during two grueling years of living on the streets, he now only has eyes for his own future. As well as his handsome bunkmate and best friend Gal. But when an almost successful assassination attempt reveals Gal to be the heir to the empire that made him an orphan, Ettian has to decide whether his loyalties lie with the ghosts of his shattered past, or his feelings for a boy who is destined to inherit the most horrifying power in the galaxy.
I loved, loved, loved this book! Skrutskie’s effortless prose, kept in a tight first person from Ettian’s perspective, tells an exciting tale of adventure with anime undertones (coming accessorized with power suits, for extra otaku points). The action is fast-paced, the language — extremely evocative. We can smell and feel the world on every page, be it confined to the cabin of a space ship, or a vast cityscape.
But what’s even better, the novel paints a beautiful relationship between two boys, persevering despite being designed to fail in all manner of spectacular ways. Ettian’s feelings — and through his eyes, Gal’s as well — are raw and earnest, unfiltered by his telling of the story, and the adventure the two are forced into puts those to the test. In moments of intimacy, the painful ache of desire also takes on a very physical, if adorably chaste, tone. Skrutskie takes us all the way into the eyes of Ettian, as they hunger over the details in physicality and mannerism that made him fall for Gal.
Bonds of Brass is fast paced and action packed, but somehow, there is always time for character building. Both of the book’s heroes are complex, neither one falling into black-and-white stereotypes. If anything, both get up to some highly questionable shit, ethically speaking, and the ending left me with a deep sense of uncertainty as to who I was actually rooting for. On that note, it bears noting that this is only a first part of a trilogy, and it is wide open.
If I have one problem with Bonds of Brass, it is extra-literary, and personal, and has nothing to do with the book’s merits. On Emily Skrutskie’s pinned tweet, she describes the characters as “two bisexual disasters”. And I have no problem believing that Gal is bi. But, um, as a gay man, Ettian reads gay to me. This is a made-up character, and everything that exists of him is in this book. And in this book he is coded as fully focused on a single person, who happens to be male-identified. No hints are given of any interest he has ever had in other people, not even a throwaway sentence or a stray thought. The only other relationship he has, is aggressively platonic, and firmly defined by shared experiences. The only time, in fact, when he has any romantic/sexual thought not focused on Gal, it is to observe two boys making out in a cantina, and feel jealous.
I recognize that this is not a real issue, and labels aren’t terribly relevant in a made-up future space opera. And to be absolutely clear, I love reading about bisexual characters. But to me it read somewhat like “Dumbledore is gay”, as well as made me a bit sad on a personal level. It seems there are barely any gay male-identified protagonists in current SFF, confusing though that might be, considering how progressive the field has become in recent years. And not that I am that desperate for explicit identification, but it still felt nice when the novel was giving me a very clear signal that this was what I was getting. And then it seemed that the author herself did not support that signal.
This is, however, my own personal issue, and ultimately it only rubbed me the wrong way for a moment, before being drowned by the sheer awesomeness of Bonds of Brass. If royal intrigue, space warfare, planetary adventures, and boys in love are your game, then this book plays it perfectly. My only problem at present is that it isn’t even out yet (release date is 4/7), and I am already itching for the second part of the trilogy.
Navigating any field when you want social justice to be a consideration, is tricky. Literature has its own fair (read “gargantuan”) share of awful people, well meaning mishaps, toxicity, representation issues, and good old-fashioned bigotry.
On that last note, I have no trouble admitting that Orson Scott Card is probably the ONE famous name in the field of Speculative Fiction that I have no qualms over trashing. He is a horrible human being. Not uniquely horrible. In fact, chances are he probably isn’t close to the MOST horrible person even in SFF. However, I take his horribleness personally, because A) I used to love his work and it was a huge drive for my love of science fiction; and B) he hates homosexuality, and I am very intensely homosexual.
All that said, it is a rule of mine to never directly support people that I consider to be problematic in ways that are important to me. And by that I don’t mean my tween gesture of throwing my copy of Ender’s Game into the trash back in the day, when Card announced that any government that would support gay marriage was his enemy, and he would take up arms against it. No, I am talking about money. I cannot purchase a book by a person like that, knowing that even a fraction of my dollars would go to their wallet.
However, for all his character flaws (and supposed massive drop in writing quality, which I would not know anything about, as it’s been a decade since I have read any of his work), Orson Scott Card remains someone with a lot of knowledge about the craft of writing. After finding his How to Write Science Fiction & Fantasy in a used bookstore last year, I had decided that despite the sexist undertones, I could learn a lot from him. Which is the end of my extremely and unnecessarily long prelude to the admission that I just got Characters & Viewpoint through a second hand retailer, and I now feel vaguely gross, despite knowing Card won’t see a red cent from the transaction. But I think that if one wants to read a work by a problematic person for whatever reason, second-hand is the only conscientious way of going about it. Bigots shouldn’t get your money.
is something I’ve wanted to write about for well over a year, and I might be
the only human in the world who is interested in the subject at this point. But
as this is my blog, I get to go for it, and perhaps someone out there will
care. Plus, it might give you an indication as to why my blog is named as it
came out at 25. Late, by modern standards, and yet it felt like I had wasted
half a life by then. I was never really technically “in the closet” to begin
with. My mind is capable of phenomenal feats of compartmentalization, and so
the “gay thing” had been stuffed so deep in my consciousness that I was in a
permanent state of absolute repression. And so, I “came out” to the world about
the same time I came out to myself. Moving to the United States, seeing life
not as I had expected it would be, but as it could become, began a
process of buildup in me that had only one possible healthy outcome.
word just popped into my mind one day, unexpected and unasked for. GAY. It wasn’t
any different from the million times I’d said or thought it before, and yet it
was also profoundly, relentlessly new. Because it was about me. The moment was
shocking, to be sure. I don’t think I did much else that night.
it felt like a prelude, not the main event.
Two days later, I managed to type those three letters in a Skype chat with a friend back home. My fingers moving on the keyboard, the pinkie hovering over the Enter key. Then — almost despite myself — pressing down. It was the hardest physical feat I’ve ever accomplished. The sheer fever of the moment, the diamond-sharp awareness that your life is about to be split into a “before” and “after”. The condensed, immovable now of my first coming out to someone else was beyond the intensity of anything I have experienced, before or since.
The fever didn’t subside through the next few weeks of telling people face to face and embracing what it meant to me that they knew. That I knew. At first, the fear and underlying excitement would flare up every time — what if this is the one person who will reject me? Who will make a disgusted face, close up, turn around, curse at me?
never happened. Despite the out-of-body aspect of it all, the self-defense
mechanisms I had developed in the past two decades had picked the territory
well. I was in a college town, surrounded by young, progressive people, many of
them queer themselves. I was safe, or close enough. I was met with nothing but
love and support.
is, of course, almost perversely disappointing in a way, when the climax of all
those years of fear and trepidation is nothing nearly as dramatic as you had
built up in your head. Because you being gay doesn’t matter to anyone else even
remotely as much as it does to you…
Simon (directed by Greg Berlanti and based on Becky
Albertalli’s breakout YA hit Simon vs.
the Homo-Sapiens Agenda) was a quiet success. A mid-budget romantic comedy
is already something of an outlier in this era of massive block-busters and
indie sleeper hits. But the movie’s John Hughesque atmosphere and the disarming
charm of its characters added to its status as the first teen movie by a major
studio with a gay protagonist, to make it an event in a year marked by
shattering cinematic experiences.
However, it was a much more personal revelation to me. Not because of any groundbreaking social message, or a profound, heretofore unseen approach to the queer experience. But because it captured the feelings I brought up earlier. The moment when you are not sure if your throat might close and refuse to form the word. The strange disappointment that your coming out isn’t nearly as shocking to the other person as you thought it would be. The overpowering emotion of being loved for who you are, not despite.
I saw this movie in theaters 9 times. I rewatch it every year on National Coming Out Day. It is not the greatest cinematic expression of our times, and even compared to some other contemporary queer movies, it may lack artistic and — to some — social depth. But that is a surface read. For all its gorgeous visuals and universal themes of desire and longing, Call Me By Your Name for example left me at a distance. There was little for me to resonate with. I rarely lounge for an entire summer in my family’s south Italian mansion. I have never had fiery romances with precocious hyper-intellectual teenagers. Peach is not my sex fruit of choice.
is not to diss what is truly an incredible movie. But Love, Simon did
something else, and did it better. It showed a gay boy dealing with coming out
in a relatable setting, and it showed the outpour of kindness and love that he
received. It spoke with the language of personal experience, and it used small gestures,
unspoken words, and that same fever that I myself lived through. And that
message clearly worked, because the movie quadrupled its budget and survived heavy
hitters like Ready Player One and Avengers: Infinity War in
We are trained by art to perceive suffering as the greatest form of storytelling. Doubly so for minority narratives. But just as with every other marginalized group, the queer experience is not always — not even predominantly — dramatic. It is not exclusively a tragedy to sympathize with. Sometimes it is just tender and simple, and full of small stakes that can matter more than anything else in the world. Sometimes it is just saying a word when silence feels like death.
in this regard, Love, Simon was one of the most subversive and
groundbreaking LGBTQ-themed movies of this past decade.