Joey Pollari, an actor who appears in the groundbreaking gay teen romance movie Love, Simon, recently came out as gay.
The actor, who got his start in Disney Channel movies, opened up about his sexuality in an interview with The Advocate.
In Love, Simon, Pollari plays Lyle, a guy who works at the local Waffle House and is a potential love interest for the titular protagonist. It’s a charming and memorable, if short-lived role.
However, the story still resonated with him.
‘His experience was similar to mine,’ he said.
In the movie, Simon is a closeted gay high school teen. He knows his own identity, but hasn’t shared it with anyone in his personal life.
‘The only part that was difficult was me coming out to myself. And I think that is the most difficult coming-out,’ Pollari continued. ‘I think all my friends and family knew on some level. I think maybe two people were shocked.’
It’s a role Pollari played before. His big break came in 2016 when he starred in the second season of American Crime. In the series, he played a closted basketball player accused of sexual assault.
His biggest hurdle in coming out was the shame.
‘I do believe a system of power, of patriarchy, of masculinity did impact me,’ he explained. He added that his identity didn’t match his own idea of himself and he had to come to terms with that.
The real scary stuff
After he came out, he found his perceived fears didn’t come to light. Instead, it was a lot more normal.
‘The real scary stuff and the real exciting stuff is falling in love with someone,’ he said. It’s something anyone can relate to, regardless of sexual identity.
Love, Simon also encouraged him to think about and embrace representation.
‘It’s part of my goal to be more transparent, especially in the public sphere,’ he shared. ‘I mean, that’s why I go to the movies… I go to learn something about someone else. In a byproduct, I learn about myself. That’s the power of representation.’