The significance of a film like Love, Simon can't be overstated. A mainstream romantic comedy normalizing young, queer relationships from a major motion picture studio would have seemed like a fantasy a decade ago. Now, young LGBTQ people can see themselves in everyday life without feeling like a tokenized piece of comic relief.
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Clark Moore, who plays the out and confident Ethan in the film, spoke with Out.com about how much of his high school self he saw in the character and his hopes that Hollywood keeps going in the right direction towards true inclusion and representation.
OUT: Tell us about your character, Ethan, in Love Simon.
Clark Moore: Ethan is a fun kid. He is very funny and he is arguably the smartest person in the room at any time, which is why the bullies are never able to get one over on him. He's sort of like the version of me I wish I could have been in high school: fully and unwaveringly confident and self-realized.
Ethan seems so comfortable and at peace with his sexuality but Simon is struggling with his. What are Simon's interactions with Ethan like?
He views my character as very, very far away from him. He's very in contrast to Simon because Simon is quiet and reserved, whereas Ethan is more over the top, a little more flamboyant, definitely a little closer to the stereotype. But as a result of fully expressing himself, he gets picked on a lot. So I think Simon is partially afraid to come out because he sees these interactions Ethan is going through.
What do you think the existence of characters like Simon and Ethan in the same space and story say about how far we've come as a society?
Simon and Ethan represent two ends of a very wide spectrum, and that's what I love about this role and this movie. We're really showing you that gay people come in all shapes, sizes, and colors and we don't all have to be the same, and we don't have to be attracted to each other. There's this complication of sexuality tied up with love and romance sometimes when there can be a bond that happens between two people within our community that is completely independent of sexual attraction.
When shooting a big scene between Ethan and Simon, the very first thing our director, Greg Berlanti, said, was: It's really important for you guys to realize and for everyone to understand that these two people are very different and on opposite ends of the spectrum. But neither of them is more important than the other. Neither of them is more right nor experiencing their sexuality in a way that should be more attainable to the other. Everyone is who they are.
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What was your high school experience and coming out process like?
I had a blessed high school experience. I came out in junior high and was surrounded by friends who loved me and my parents were very supportive and always made it clear that they loved me first and foremost.
It's still arguably one of the hardest things that we, as gay people or LGBT people who are marginalized or otherized, have to do in our entire lives. There's no way to explain that sheer terror that you're filled with when you're in the closet. Then you come out and everyone's looking at you like you've changed. Even if they're looking at you in a supportive way, they're still seeing you wholly and fully for the first time. You have to make yourself really vulnerable to do it and people that don't go through that just don't understand.
Love, Simon opens in theaters nationwide today.
This interview has been edited and condensed.