After seeing Call Me by Your Name three weeks ago, Ramone, a 20-year-old from Guadalajara, Mexico, began posting photos of its star, Timothée Chalamet, on his Twitter account. Today, he posts new galleries and videos of Chalamet almost every 10 minutes, and nearly all of those he follows have the actor’s face as their avatar.
“We talk about the film a lot,” he says of the CMBYN fandom. “We have a lot of ‘meltdowns’ talking about the love in the film.”
For those who found the romance featuring Armie Hammer and Chalamet (who play Oliver and Elio, respectively) utterly heartbreaking — especially the end, with Chalamet framed against a crackling fire, his tears aglow — rehashing every aspect of the film can feel like revisiting a torrid affair. “CMBYN fucked me up” is a practically a trending Twitter topic and YouTube is rife with montages of the film’s romantic scenes set to sad music.
But a different sentiment drives the Call Me By Your Name stan community — call it the Peach hive. These young fans endlessly share post-coital GIFs of the two leads, and adorn their profile bios with a supermarket’s worth of peach emojis. They’ve embraced the gutting soundtrack and bittersweet ending, and seem to fantasize about a storybook romance like Elio and Oliver’s that could outlast a single summer.
Feeling represented by queer characters is especially important during adolescence. In 2014, researchers at the University of Toronto found that media role models gave young gay people the ability to cope through escapism, to build communities and to feel stronger. Other research has indicated that participating in online forums can foster resilience in LGBT youth.
Ramone says he’s read the book Call Me By Your Name five times and that he hopes the story never loses its emotional punch. “It teleports me to another continent and allows me to experience what Elio and Oliver felt,” he says. He estimates that there are around 2,000 hardcore stans of the film, and many more casual ones; he’s begun following around 60 accounts just because they’re obsessed like him. “When I scroll down my timeline, I get a warm feeling,” he says.
While many gay films revolve around weighty topics like AIDS and prejudice, Call Me by Your Name is more like romance porn — this generation’s gay Titanic. Ramone says the film “totally” changed his view of love. “I know it sounds dramatic, but watching this unfold — two men falling for each other — without any outside enemy, blew my mind,” he says. “It made me think that I could have something like that, too, without homophobia or diseases.”
Lana, a 20-year-old bisexual woman in New York City, believes the film will “haunt her forever,” but in a good way. “It emotionally wrecked me. I saw it alone, so I was able to cry by myself, though there was a lesbian couple behind me who were sobbing, too. I think the biggest thing is that it allowed me to enjoy my youth and sexuality, and to think of both as normal, human things to go through.”
Lana isn’t out to her parents yet, though the film has cracked open the closet door. “Watching a contemporary film depict bisexuality in such a ‘normal’ way was so comforting to me. I never thought a legitimately bisexual character would ever be portrayed on screen in such a loving, safe way.”
Luke, an 18-year-old in Sydney, says being able to connect with other Call Me by Your Name stans has given him a sense of community he’s never had before. “I don’t have many queer friends, so being able to talk to so many people on Twitter is amazing. We’re all so grateful for the film because we finally see ourselves reflected without the usual stereotype of our queerness leading to tragedy or rejection. And it’s a coming-of-age story, too, so I think any teen will be affected regardless of their sexuality.”
Chalamet is a “major talking point” online, according to Luke. “We’re all in love with him,” he says. To Luke and others, Chalamet represents a new breed of celebrity who don’t see playing queer characters as a risk. “It’s so refreshing to see a straight male in the spotlight who doesn’t feel the need to constantly reinforce his masculinity,” he says.
Like others I spoke to, Luke has met Chalamet and proudly pins the proof at the top of his profile. You get the sense that stans like him are more interested in exploring the actor’s heteroflexible side than being in a throuple with Hammer and Chalamet.
Hours after Chalamet lost the Golden Globe for best actor to Gary Oldman, the CMBYN brigade was out in full force, with many using the hashtag #justiceforCMBYN to express their displeasure with the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. One fan seized the moment to officially come out, crediting the film with giving her the inspiration.
“I had been struggling with my sexuality for the past year and it wasn’t until I discovered Call Me by Your Name and gave this story a chance that I really came to terms with who I am,” tweeted a 19-year-old user named Jess. “I’ll never stop being thankful for it and for everyone involved who helped the story come alive.”
Later in the evening, the stan community went back to doing what it does best: honoring their god, Chalamet, with curated galleries of his hottest lewks. The posts were mostly derivative and gushy, but also underlined something heartwarming and true: A new generation is growing up with stars who are comfortable with their gay side, and with the message that they, too, deserve their own idyllic love affair, as well as all the messy feelings that attend a romantic life well-lived — both the joy and the immense pain.