a selection of quotes from longer articles, essays and posts I have written
We learn about Ethan’s backstory and hidden struggles with being gay, too, in Love, Simon — a backstory that’s never explored for Elliot in Alex Strangelove. While we learn early that Elliot’s father threw him out because he was gay, we never hear much more of that story. That’s upsetting, particularly since LGBT youth homelessness is a serious issue: The Williams Institute at UCLA Law has found LGBT youth are significantly more at risk of experiencing homelessness, and while it’s not mentioned in Alex Strangelove, LGBT youth are also at significantly higher risk for suicide.
These are real issues, and that Alex Strangelove (and Love, Simon) barely acknowledged such problems is disturbing. These films are normalizing LGBTQ stories and celebrating the successes of equality movements, but they’re choosing to obsure the realities of being LGBTQ in today’s society. For heterosexual, cisgender audiences who have never personally dealt with these situations, films like Alex Strangelove are probably their few glimpses into these life stories, and failing to include social issues erects a facade that LGBTQ suffering is a thing of the past.
“And now, Alex Strangelove,” self-published in Leo Ji Stories, June 23, 2018
Abstracting away the experiences of queer people of color — and instead upholding a white, masculine, normatively attractive man like Nick Robinson’s Simon Spier as representing the ideal of the gay man — contributes to a white cisgender heteronormative hegemony by moving society in a direction where only gay men performing (or overperforming) traditional masculinity are considered “acceptable.”
“Dear Simon: Who gets to be ‘Everyone?’ Love, Leo.” Asian American Sexualities, April 22, 2018
I’m worried that this casting decision reinforces an idea that characters can only be played by Asian actors if the characters are Asian stereotypes — but as soon as a character becomes “relatable,” she can suddenly be played by an actor of any race.
“The spotlight shines on Northwestern student theater — for lack of diversity,” self-published in Leo Ji Stories, October 24, 2017