The 2018 film Love, Simon brought a fresh perspective to the first love, coming-of-age genre through the eyes of a gay teen.
Exploring love’s innocence, isolation and fear of rejection, the film showed that a story about an LGBTQ character could transcend and be included in the narrative of American life. But like most LGBTQ projects, it was told from the experiences of a white gay male.
Love, Victor, a spinoff series, premiered Friday on Hulu. It takes the universe of Love, Simon into a new level, adding class, race and ethnicity in the mix as another teen walks through the same love conflicts.
The series follows Victor Salazar, a Latino high school student struggling with his sexual identity and life in school. Portrayed by Michael Cimino, Victor’s working-class, conservative Catholic family relocates to Atlanta from Texas. Victor immediately reaches out to Simon via social media to lash out at Simon’s “perfect life.”
Victor believes he’s gay, too. That is, until African American student Mia Brooks (Rachel Hilson), the school’s most popular girl, falls in love with him.
Victor joins the basketball team and the other boys give the new kid “bro hugs.” But Victor can’t take his eyes off Benji. He’s an openly gay classmate who often stares back.
“Its is a great honor to represent the Latino community and not just the Latino community, but the LGBT community in a way that can positively affect people’s lives,” Cimino said.
For Latinos, the series is as groundbreaking as Love, Simon. Love, Victor is a family-friendly project placed in the not-so-Latino-friendly region of the American Deep South.
Cimino said gay Latinos aren’t abstract concepts to him. They are family. He said he molded the portrayal of his character on the coming out experience of an older cousin. “He is a very special person for me,” Cimino said.