Dear Simon, Evan and Max

I recently went to see the movie Love, Simon on my own. It’s one that’s based on a book I read many moons ago about a boy that is revealed as being gay before he is ready to do it himself. It's a YA book that opened my eyes to the struggles of some of the LGBT community and also highlighted the struggles that teens face when it comes to revealing their true selves in a society where everyone is put under the microscope. 

What ensues in the story is a mix of emotions ranging from anger to love and acceptance. From Simon's fury at being exposed as gay when he wasn't ready, to the whirlwind emotions of first love and reassurance of family support. I remember finishing the book with tears in my eyes that I had read something so good and I honestly couldn't wait for it to be on the big screen.

I took myself to see the film. Sitting in the room on my own I was acutely aware of the teens, parents and couples sat all around me whilst I was riding solo. But as soon as the film started, I knew I had to see this movie on opening weekend, alone or not. I sat in the movie theatre with tears streaming down my face, because as a mother to a son I never want that feeling of isolation and exposure to happen to him. I never want his secret, no matter how big or small, to be told before he is ready. 

When I left the cinema I knew the perfect soundtrack to put on. One that’s about a young man that’s struggling with his own secrets and puts those around him in complicated lies to hide them. One that whilst it seems similar to Simon's story, it's actually one that is more focused on mental heath than sexual orientation. Dear Evan Hansen is a musical that I still listen to on an almost daily basis even a year after I bought it. It’s a rollercoaster of emotional songs that are about opening up to others, realising you aren’t alone and being okay with who you are. 

On the way back it made me think of Max. Of how he’s so happy and carefree. How the smiles and laughter he makes fill a room and are infectious. How he tells me everything, albeit sometimes days after it happens, but he talks to me and tells me his emotions and thoughts. How my heart would break knowing he had a secret that he felt he couldn’t tell me for fear of what I would say. For either fear of judgement or sadness of those around him. For feeling like society or his family unit would shun him or cast him off.

Society is so determined to tell men that they need to man up. That showing emotions and telling secrets will make them weak or different. That being themselves isn't good enough and they need to be more masculine or less emotional. In a similar way to society telling women that we need to fit a stereotypical box, men are being judged for opening up and letting their emotions run free. 

But I don’t want that life for my son. I want him to be proud of himself. Of his choices. Of whatever the hell he wants to do with his life. I’m not sure how Max will grow up. At the moment he wants to be on broadway in shows like Dear Evan Hansen and School of Rock and live alone with dogs whilst eating pizza. He may do that, or he may bring home a boyfriend or girlfriend and end up as a fireman or a teacher. I can't see into the future and I don’t know how he will live his life. 

I just want him to be happy, to know that he doesn’t have to hold his breath and lie to make others feel better and hide his secrets. To know that I love him no matter what. That we all love him, whatever his life may be. So to Simon, Evan and Max. You are not alone. You are you and you are loved and that’s all that matters in the world. 

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