come out

One of the most anticipated movies this year is the film Love, Simon, which opens in theaters nationwide on Thursday.

The film centers around a character named Simon Spier (played by Nick Robinson) who is trying to keep a huge secret from his family and friends: that he’s gay. When that is threatened, he must face everyone and come to grips with his true identity.

Whereas Nick is straight in real life (although he recently revealed that the movie helped him connect with his gay brother), another actor from the movie isn’t, and detailed his coming out experience to The Advocate on Tuesday.

Joey Pollari, the former Disney star who plays Lyle, a potential love interest for Simon in the film, spoke to The Advocate about coming out of the closet and how his situation was very similar to the title character in the movie.

“His experience was similar to mine,” claimed the 23-year-old. Although he is coming out publicly now in the entertainment world, his true coming out to his friends and family happened five years ago when he was 18. The major difference between him and Simon’s character is that he didn’t have to deal with blackmail in real life.

He says that his coming out experience was a positive one, overall. “I think all my friends and family knew on some level. I think maybe two people were shocked.”

The hardest part for coming out wasn’t necessarily to his friends and family, but ultimately to himself. He also spoke about how his supportive mother knew for years, and was “waiting for a very, very long time” for him to speak those words.

It didn’t come easy for him, as even finding inspiration in gay-related figures like Judy Garland, films like Brokeback Mountain and even learning about gay literature from James Baldwin still held him back at first.

“A lot of the trouble was self shame. I do believe a system of power, of patriarchy, of masculinity did impact me,” he reflected, adding, “The greatest difficulty I found was that it didn’t match my idea of myself. It seemed incongruent with the future I imagined for myself, the identity I had struck up with others. The interplay between me and women, me and men, now suddenly seemed entirely different. That just didn’t seem fair or right.”

Luckily, he came around and found out that his greatest fears were truly unfounded. “While it does have a big impact on [my] identity, it doesn’t in the ways that I thought it would,” he said. Now that he’s out, he realizes that for him at least, it’s not that big of a deal. “On the other side, it’s a lot plainer than I thought.”

See the trailer for Love, Simon below: