Walking into the cinema to watch a young adult coming-of-age movie about a gay guy coming out, I knew I was probably going to cry. I didn’t expect to be the emotional mess I am right now. Being gay and in the closet is a balancing act. Everyone who’s gay has been there at some point in their lives, balancing the image you’ve crafted for public consumption with the internal anguish of needing that artificial image.

For this reason, Love, Simon hits home in a lot of places: from figuring out your sexuality, to sharing it with others, to trying to find that person who makes you smile when you wake up in the morning. Written by Isaac Aptaker & Elizabeth Berger, the film is based on Becky Albertalli’s acclaimed novel, Simon vs the Homo sapiens Agenda

Set in Atlanta, Georgia, the film follows the titular seventeen-year-old Simon Spier, a closeted gay high-schooler on a journey of self-discovery, and the mysterious “Blue”, a sort of gay “pen-pal” who posts on the high school’s gossip page confessing his sexuality under a pseudonym. As the two become closer, Simon wonders who exactly he’s writing to and a tight bond begins to form.

What the film does especially well is to keep viewers keenly interested (albeit annoyed) throughout its duration, despite having the wool pulled over our eyes for much of the story. For critics of the filmLove, Simon has been summed up in the simple terms of being about finding love. Notably, some of the most significant praise the film has received is in terms of how genuinely the story is portrayed.

But there are deeper layers that makes this film a must-watch for everyone. Importantly, it captures the intricacies of the internal pains that LGBTIQ+ folks go through growing up and sharing who they are. In contrast to many other Hollywood films in this well-trodden genre, Love, Simon portrays LGBTIQ+ people in a very different light.

Love, Simon is a unique insight into the struggle of LGBTIQ+ people when they come out and, more importantly, the shattering devastation of when you’re outed to the world.

The film made obvious the areas in which other movies with similar themes are so clearly lacking. There’s a point I want to make very clear to movie-makers considering making something with these themes: LGBTIQ+ people are not just sex machines and size queens. It is not the primary purpose of a gay guy to lock lips with every guy they see and throw glitter everywhere (however fun that may be).

We’re not all experts in boys, fashion, or anything else that has been stereotyped over decades. I’m certainly not an expert on anything (still single, gents). I’m yet to pluck up the courage to talk to my own father about my sexuality (Hi Dad!), and I hope this inspires closeted queer folks in the same way that it did with me.

Love, Simon is essential viewing. For your gay friends, family, co-workers, or that one fiiiiine-looking guy you lock eyes with on the street, please watch this film.