It’s difficult to be gay.

Even though attitudes have improved (Pink Dot, anyone?), there’s still a lot of social stigma attached to being gay in today’s world, especially in Asian societies. That’s why in real life, people can keep their true sexuality hidden for years (or even forever), because the cost of social exclusion may not be worth the freedom to love whoever you want. For some people, it’s not just about the individual – it’s about avoiding potential shame and derision upon the family from more traditional folk, who may not understand or accept it.

That’s why it’s so cathartic to see coming out stories on film (even if you’re straight). It’s like the release of a great big pent-up secret, the expression of who the person truly is, and at its core – the possibility of a romantic happily ever after.

So here are five coming-out stories, big and small, that we’ve seen in film over the last two years. No matter whether it’s a comedy or a drama, revealing the truth is always a powerful emotional beat in these movies.

1. Danny in Lady Bird

The Oscar nominee darling was lauded for its portrayal of the titular independent female character, even though Lady Bird (Saoirse Ronan) herself came off as a rather spoilt, self-entitled, ridiculous brat who only ever wants things her way. Despite the many defects in her character (and there are many), her compassion is actually rather moving.

What happens is that Lady Bird, wanting to break rules for her own convenience as usual, heads to the male toilet after seeing a long queue for the female toilet. It’s there that she discovers her boyfriend, Danny (Lucas Hedges), snogging another boy in the toilet. Ouch.

They end up avoiding each other for quite a while, until a tense confrontation in an alley one day. That’s when Danny breaks down and asks Lady Bird not to tell anyone else about what she saw. In a heartbreaking scene, he goes from smooth playboy that’s batting for both sides to a vulnerable, fearful child who can’t help being who he is.

Danny should have been the focus of the movie, in hindsight. He was a much less grating character than Lady Bird.

 

2. Fred in Marry Me, Dude

This offbeat French comedy sees Yassine (Tarek Boudali) faking a marriage with Fred (Philippe Lacheau) in order to stay in France to work. Unfortunately, Fred already has a girlfriend, which makes things a little tricky when she has to play along with their sham marriage. They also have a police officer on their tail, who is determined to prove that the marriage is a sham.

Fred’s relationship with his girlfriend deteriorates as he takes the gay marriage pretence more and more seriously. In the end, however, the marriage is exposed and Yassine gets deported. But there’s a happy ending to everyone’s situation.

Including Fred’s. The final scene reveals that the sham marriage taught Fred that he’s actually gay (which explains why he was so enthusiastic and serious about the whole thing in the first place). It’s done as a throwaway gag, but it’s actually quite heartwarming – because Fred ends up together with another character (who came out to Fred earlier in the film). It pays off the coming out of both characters, and makes for an interesting twist on Fred.

 

3. Tim in Happy Death Day

Happy Death Day has a simple Groundhog Day premise – a girl relives the day she gets killed again and again, and realises she has to find out who her killer is in order to stop the cycle. It’s full of eye candy and the premise is fairly straightforward, and the main character Tree (Jessica Rothe) changes from air-headed bimbo to a person who cares about others.

In the endless sequence of events that she lives through, she keeps bumping into a suitor, Tim (Caleb Spillyards), whom she brusquely rejects. She also inadvertently discovers that he’s gay (when she later catches him watching gay porn), which makes her realise that he’s asking her out to hide who he really is, rather than being truly in love with her.

So once she undergoes a character change, she stops brushing him off so harshly. Instead, she encourages him to be who he really is – and there’s a look of recognition and relief on his face as she does that. It’s a small scene, but one that gives new meaning and perspective to a seemingly inconsequential interaction she keeps having.

 

4. Giles in The Shape of Water

This year’s Oscar winner is all about sex. It starts off with mute heroine Elisa (Sally Hawkins) pleasuring herself, so you know that the film is going to hinge on sexuality. In fact, as the clip above shows, her neighbour Giles (Richard Jenkins) even says that one of things he wishes he could do was to f*ck a lot more.

It sounds like an innocuous throwaway line that’s in line with the theme, until a later scene in the film – when Giles make a pass at the owner of a diner. He gets unceremoniously thrown out, and that’s when we realise the truth.

Giles is gay.

In 1962.

Which is why he can’t get laid as much as he wants to. During that era, social conventions meant that openly being gay was a death sentence in society. He has to stay closeted, lest he gets the same reaction from the diner owner that he tried to hit on.

It gives a deeper meaning to the line he said earlier. He wasn’t actually telling Elisa to literally find someone to make love to, he was actually admonishing himself for having been as closeted as he was and not taking painful risks. Because of that, he was never able to find love. But he hopes that Elisa will.

And in the end, Elisa does! Although it’s with a weird super-powered fish humanoid, Elisa did manage to find her true love.

 

5. Simon from Love, Simon

If Simon (Nick Robinson) looks familiar, that’s because he’s the emo kid from Jurassic World. He struggles with coping with his own sexuality and keeping it a secret, and finally finds his soulmate online. Unfortunately, another classmate discovers that he’s gay, and threatens to out him.

Simon eventually comes out to his parents in an emotional scene that doesn’t play out like you’d except. It’s a touching scene that sees Simon releasing a burden that he’s been carrying for years, and his parents respond in a way that pays off the revelation.

It’s one of the first major Hollywood films to focus on a gay teenage romance, bringing such relationships to the forefront and awareness of society. Even though it’s not out in cinemas yet, it’s been critically acclaimed by many. Plus, it’s a romantic comedy about good-looking people. What’s there not to like, no matter which way you swing?

 

Love, Simon. Credit: Golden Village Cinemas

Love, Simon. Credit: Golden Village Cinemas

If you’re keen on watching Love, Simon before anyone else, here’s your chance! There’s a very special Squad Screening of Love, Simon at Suntec City for Golden Village Movie Club members this Wednesday – a full month before its official release in cinemas! Not only do you get free popcorn, but you also get a chance to snap some shots at a photo booth set up specially for this event!

So who are the good-looking people in Love, Simon? Josh Duhamel plays his father Jack, while Jennifer Garner plays his mother Emily. Newcomer Katherine Langford (from 13 Reasons Why) plays his buddy Leah, while Alexandra Shipp (Storm from the X-Men) plays his other buddy Abby.

Act fast if you want to get in on the action!

 

Credits: Golden Village Cinemas