When Love, Simon hit theaters back in March, it validated young members of the LGBTQ community and empowered them to proudly live their truth. But behind-the-scenes, it unexpectedly had the same effect on Keiynan Lonsdale, one of the stars of the groundbreaking film.
When production first began on the movie, Lonsdale hadn’t publicly revealed that he’s attracted to both men and women. But after working on the project, which was the first mainstream gay teen romance of its kind, he realized it was time to share his truth with the world.
The actor came out to the cast and crew on their final day on set, and then came out to the rest of the world in an Instagram post earlier this year. Lonsdale told FANDOM that his time working on Love, Simon was “100% a part” of his decision to let go of the secret he was holding on to for so long.
“I realized while I was filming that it felt like I was a contradiction to what we were fighting for,” he said. “I didn’t come out because of that, it just highlighted and sort of put up a mirror to myself and made me really think and start to realize that I’m not afraid of anything. I’m ready now to make this step. I guess working on a loving film set and having a gay director and playing the character I realized there was nothing holding me back but myself now. So I was super inspired.”
Luckily, when the film came out, it had the same effect on many audience members who were struggling with their sexual identity — something that Lonsdale is proud to be a part of.
“Every single time I hear someone say that they were able to accept themselves, I think it’s an amazing thing. And also that parents have been able to see it and gain such an understanding, a better understanding,” Lonsdale told FANDOM. “I think, most importantly, for an individual to go and see it and walk out of the theater and be like ‘Wow, I’m valid. I am valid. I do love myself and I’m excited to be myself.’ That always makes me really happy to hear.”
Earlier this week, it was announced that Lonsdale would be leaving his role as Wally West on Legends of Tomorrow, where he had the honor of being one of the only openly queer actors to play a superhero in mainstream media. The actor released another Instagram post explaining his decision to leave the Arrowverse, and while he says it wasn’t directly because of his coming out, he acknowledged that he changed a lot after revealing the truth about his sexuality.
“That was the thing I was most holding on to in terms of my life and being stuck personally, and then once I released that, I was able to just continue to grow as a human, just separate of everything, just as a human being,” Lonsdale explained about what triggered his decision to leave the series.
“So I think one of the things I realized was that I just couldn’t do a full-time job anymore,” he added. “I needed to be able to wake up and say, ‘Today I feel like going on an adventure and having no idea where I’ll land. If it ends up great, it ends up great. If I end up falling over, I end up falling over.’ And that’s just what makes me happy and that’s the kind of life I want to live. Until maybe my perspective changes again and then I’ll follow that.”
The possibility of that perspective change leaves hope for the many fans who were devastated by the news that Lonsdale was hanging up his Kid Flash speedster shoes. He promised fans on social media that “it’s definitely not a total goodbye or ‘see ya never’ situation, cause Wally West will still be around when you need him the most.”
But for now, fans of the Australian actor can watch him in the film that helped change his life forever. Love, Simon is available on Digital now and will be released on DVD and Blu-ray on June 12.