'Love, Simon' Author Becky Albertalli Comes Out as Bisexual

by Kevin Schattenkirk

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Thursday September 3, 2020

After receiving criticism from authors, fans, and trolls for being an allegedly straight woman cashing in on the LGBTQ community, "Love, Simon" author Becky Albertalli has come out as bisexual, Metro Weekly reports.

In "I Know I'm Late," an essay for Medium, Albertalli tells her story — from writing and promoting her young adult novels "Simon vs the Homosapiens Agenda" (which was turned into the film "Love, Simon") and "Leah on the Offbeat." Of the former, Albertalli explains:

...when you're a brand-new author, the first thing interviewers want to know about is your inspiration.

I hated that question.

Mostly because I never had a good answer when it came to "Simon." I'd talk about how the book was based on my high school. Or how I reread all my teen journals before I wrote the first draft. Or I'd list all the ways Simon and I are alike. But there was always one particular follow-up question I dreaded: "why is Simon gay? Why did you, a cishet woman, write a book about a gay teen boy?" So I'd talk about my psychology background and all those years working with queer kids, ignoring the real neon sign of a question: "Why'd you work for ten freaking years with queer kids, Becky?"

By the time Albertalli authored "Leah on the Offbeat," she began to wonder about the depth of her immersion in the book's title character as she wrote the story. She confides, "maybe that should have been might lightbulb moment. But denial comes with its own kind of logic."

It was in 2018 that the author began to come around — facing interview questions about her sexual orientation and online criticism and trolling over how she could presume to write LGBTQ stories. Some of these criticisms came from authors — undisclosed in her Medium essay — Albertalli admired. She admits, however, "the thing is, I called myself straight in a bunch of early interviews."

Nonetheless, for a lot of people, discovering their identities is a process that isn't always obvious from the outset. Albertalli explains that the less certain she was about her sexual orientation, that was when she felt more of the heat from her critics:

You know what's a mindfuck? Questioning your sexual identity in your thirties when every self-appointed literary expert on Twitter has to share their hot take on the matter. Imagine hundreds of people claiming to know every nuance of your sexuality just from reading your novels. Imagine trying to make space for your own uncertainty. Imagine if you had a Greek chorus of internet strangers propping up your imposter syndrome at every stage of the process.

Admitting that she's "angry" — "this isn't how I wanted to come out. This doesn't feel good or empowering, or even safe" — Albertalli is also thankful for those who did allow her space to discover herself, urging caution when making assumptions and rushing to careless and harmful judgments.

Read Albertalli's essay at Medium.

Kevin Schattenkirk is an ethnomusicologist and pop music aficionado.

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