Katherine Langford, who stars in Love, Simon, has said that coming out as gay in Hollywood is “tremendously scary”.
The 21-year-old actress, who made her name on Netflix’s 13 Reasons Why, said that part of the reason for this general apprehension is the sense that your sexuality will define you.
Even worse, she said, people might not believe you.
Langford hit the headlines last year when it was revealed that she had written a lesbian love song for a fellow student at her school in Perth, Australia.
In an interview with Yahoo, she said: “I can’t speak about it personally because I am not an openly gay actor, but I definitely have friends who are both openly out and aren’t, and it is tremendously scary to come out, particularly in the industry.”
She continued: “I think it’s a mixture of people just not believing, or thinking for whatever reason someone’s sexual orientation somehow shapes them as a person.
“I think it takes a tremendous amount of courage to stand up and openly declare your sexual orientation as an artist and as an actor, but I hope that it can change, because it should.”
Langford, whose 13 Reasons Why co-star Brandon Flynn came out last year in an emotional Instagram post, said depictions of gay people on TV shows and films like Love, Simon have made a difference.
“There has definitely been [progress] from nothing in terms of representation in the LGBTQ community, but I also feel like there’s a lot of under-representation,” she said.
Langford added that “hopefully films like Love, Simon will help open more of these stories to a mainstream audience.”
Love, Simon is a coming-of-age romantic comedy about a teenager who is gay but has not yet come out to his family and friends.
“This story is well overdue. It’s 2018 and this is the first major studio making [a film like this],” said Langford.
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“It’s about time the LGBTQ community had a mainstream film like this around a teenager, and it’s important for young people to know that they’re not alone and that their story is valid and valuable enough to be heard.”
The actress continued: “This isn’t necessarily the one representation of all LGBTQ people, but I hope that it can be a good starting point to start more stories like this and more conversations like this, which will hopefully lead to more understanding and acceptance.”
Greg Berlanti, who directed Love, Simon, and produces a host of CW shows including Riverdale, Black Lightning, The Flash and Arrow, agreed with Langford.
He said: “I do think times are changing, there are definitely a lot more actors who are openly gay than there were when I was younger.
Berlanti, 45, continued: “I think the next generation is so open and so aware of sexuality and gender, and understanding about in a way that my generation wasn’t.
“Change like that just keeps coming and coming and coming and the arc trends up.”
He added that the response to Love, Simon had been “validating” for him.
“I’ll encourage everyone to see it in the [cinema], especially anybody in the LGBT+ community, because one of the things that has been so great to see is how much everyone that watches the film roots for this kid to have a happy ending,” he said.
“It gets very vocal, especially towards the end – it’s a Hollywood ending, the cheers that you see when he gets his Hollywood ending have been really validating, and as an openly gay person myself that’s good to watch.”