Becky Albertalli has come out as bisexual.
The writer of Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, the 2015 young-adult novel that inspired the gay teen film Love, Simon and Hulu series Love, Victor, published an essay Monday on Medium detailing her coming-out journey.
"I’m thirty-seven years old. I’ve been happily married to a guy for almost ten years. I have two kids and a cat. I’ve never kissed a girl. I never even realized I wanted to," Albertalli wrote in the essay.
"But if I rewind further, I’m pretty sure I’ve had crushes on boys and girls for most of my life. I just didn’t realize the girl crushes were crushes," she added.
Albertalli, who like her character Simon grew up in the Atlanta suburbs, said that due to growing up in a conservative area with limited contact to out LGBTQ+ people, "my understanding of bisexuality as a concept didn’t entirely track with how I see it now," she wrote.
"For one thing, the idea of sexual fluidity wasn’t even on my radar. And there didn’t seem to be a word for girls who basically liked guys, but were sometimes (randomly!) fascinated by girls."
As a result, Albertalli "edited out all the parts that refused to make sense," including her bisexuality. It took penning Leah on the Offbeat, a YA novel about a love story between two girls, for her "beginning to question" her identity.
Things further came to a head with the 2018 release of the Greg Berlanti-directed film, which sparked an "overwhelming" scrutiny of her personal life and even calls of boycotts to her work due to her identifying publicly as straight. (In a 2018 interview with The Advocate, for example, Albertalli said she identified with Simon not because he is queer but because he is “a theater kid” who is “full of secrets” and “piecing together” how to grow up.)
As a result, some criticized her as lacking the authority to write stories about LGBTQ+ lives. "I was frequently mentioned by name, held up again and again as the quintessential example of allocishet inauthenticity," she wrote. "I was a straight woman writing shitty queer books for the straights, profiting off of communities I had no connection to."
Albertalli claimed her coming-out was a necessity in response to the torrent of criticism she has received through the #ownvoices hashtag demanding that an author's identity match her protagonist's — a demand that she said has caused harm to her and others, particularly those who are in the midst of their own coming-out journeys.
"Honestly, I’m doing this because I’ve been scrutinized, subtweeted, mocked, lectured, and invalidated just about every single day for years, and I’m exhausted," she said. "And if you think I’m the only closeted or semi-closeted queer author feeling this pressure, you haven’t been paying attention."
Albertalli credited the writings of others in helping to realize her bi identity, including Gillian Morshedi, who penned another Medium essay titled "Adult-Onset Bisexuality and the Passing Dilemma."
Albertalli asked that those who have harassed her "make space for those of us who are still discovering ourselves" and "be a little more compassionate" and "make this a little less awful for the next person."
"I’m bi. Sorry it took me so long to get here. But then again, at least the little red coming out book I needed was already on my shelf (in about thirty different languages)," she concluded. "I think I finally know why I wrote it."
Read the full essay on Medium.