Becky Albertalli is the creator of the Simonverse. She wrote Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, which Love, Simon was based on, as well as other installments like The Upside of Unrequited, Leah on the Offbeat, and Love, Creekwood: A Simonverse Novella — the latter book is a work featuring the gang at college. Alberti was also involved in the Hulu series Love, Victor, which is based on the Love, Simon film. But now, the author has come out.
"I'm bi," she wrote in an essay released Monday. "Sorry, it took me so long to get here. But then again, at least the little red coming out book I needed was already on my shelf (in about thirty different languages). I think I finally know why I wrote it."
It's worth noting that Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens has a red book cover, and is itself a coming out story. This fact — that a seemingly straight woman had written a novel about a gay teen coming out — had drawn criticism in the past. People had posited that it was not Abertalli's place to tell queer stories.
"Y’all, I didn’t know," she wrote. "I legitimately didn’t realize. I’m thirty-seven years old. I’ve been happily married to a guy for almost ten years. I have two kids and a cat. I’ve never kissed a girl. I never even realized I wanted to. But if I rewind further, I’m pretty sure I’ve had crushes on boys and girls for most of my life. I just didn’t realize the girl crushes were crushes."
Leah and the Offbeat notably featured a bisexual character.
Alberalli wrote that the criticisms were "searingly personal" as she was accused of "writing shitty queer books for the straights, profiting off of communities I had no connection to." According to her, over the process of writing, she began to find and realize herself.
"Let me be perfectly clear: this isn’t how I wanted to come out," she wrote. "This doesn’t feel good or empowering, or even particularly safe. Honestly, I’m doing this because I’ve been scrutinized, subtweeted, mocked, lectured, and invalidated just about every single day for years, and I’m exhausted. And if you think I’m the only closeted or semi-closeted queer author feeling this pressure, you haven’t been paying attention."
This is something that others have touched on before. When Jameela Jamil officially came out earlier this year, it was also under pressure after she was set to be a prominent face on HBO Max's Legendary, a queer project.
"This is absolutely not how I wanted to come out," she wrote in a note on Twitter that has since been deleted. And it is certainly an important issue to consider: how does one account for and consider individuals whose sexuality may be unknown to the public — or who are using their work to work through their own understanding fo their sexualities — but is taking center stage in queer spaces.
"Can we make space for those of us who are still discovering ourselves?" Albertalli wrote. "Can we be a little more compassionate? Can we make this a little less awful for the next person?"