Heartstopper’s Kit Connor comes out as bi, was ‘forced’ to out himself

Heartstopper is a coming-of-age series on Netflix. Oversimplified, it deals with teens figuring out their sexuality. Kit Connor plays a popular rugby player Nick who develops a crush on Charlie (Joe Locke). I haven’t watched the whole series, but it focuses on acceptance and how that affects how young adults process feelings about their identity. Kit, who is 18, was photographed last month holding hands in Paris with Maia Reficco. Kit was accused of queerbaiting as a result. Fans went so hard that Kit broke a Twitter hiatus to address the accusations. In doing so, Kit outed himself a bisexual. Unfortunately, it was against his will.

I apologize but this has me quite upset. As you know, my daughter has always been out. And while her brother has always supported her, he was also quick to point out that he was hetero. A year ago, last October, he came downstairs slightly rattled, and told his father and I that he’d developed a crush on a guy. He had a long monologue on the couch that was more of a self-discovery than an declaration. A week later, he announced he was bi. Since that day, it’s like that puzzle piece that refused to fit finally got turned right way round. His whole being is lighter. And it was all on his time, in his own way. The fact that Kit had this journey forced on him because fans couldn’t let him step into that light on his own saddens me. And I’m not alone. Author and showrunner Alice Oseman jumped to Kit’s defense, “I truly don’t understand how people can watch Heartstopper and then gleefully spend their time speculating about sexualities and judging based on stereotypes. I hope all those people are embarrassed as F—. Kit you are amazing.” So did Kit’s co-stars Sebastian Croft and, of course, Joe, who told Kit he was proud of him and reminded him he “owe(s) nothing to anyone.”

I understand how queerbaiting is hurtful to the LGBTQ+ community. And I get frustrated with those who have made a career out of it. But I’m asking from personal experience that we allow young people some grace on the subject. Because they may, in fact, not be queerbaiting as much as discovering something about themselves. And if we give them the space to do that properly, it could be their moment to turn their puzzle piece around.

Photo credit: Cat Morley/Avalon Red, Netflix and Instagram

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

25 Responses to “Heartstopper’s Kit Connor comes out as bi, was ‘forced’ to out himself”

Comments are Closed

We close comments on older posts to fight comment spam.

  1. D says:

    I think parents of queer kids love this show because it shows that there is joy in whatever you identify as, instead of the doom and gloom stories of being queer that we grew up on. It also shows the spectrum. I feel for this kid. He’s only 18 and has said he didn’t feel like labeling his sexuality. The fact that these young actors almost have to be online so much can create a very toxic fan landscape for them to navigate. It’s just such a bummer that in 2022 we haven’t come all that far in allowing people to come out or not come out on their own terms.

  2. ohhey says:

    It’s really upsetting that his talent and success made think they deserve to know who he’s attracted to.

    Civil rights for members of the lgbtq+ community have made impressive leaps in the last decade or so. But as we have seen recently, rights can be yanked away overnight. It still isn’t safe to be queer and out in America. Hate isn’t just below the surface anymore. This kid’s job already puts him at risk. My son has talked to me about how the kids on this show are harassed and their lives dissected on the internet every day. I’m 43. When I was growing up, the worst words you’d hear from frim a sobbing friend were ‘and the whole knows.’ This kids dealing with that bit instead it’s ‘the whole internet knows.’ I can’t imagine.

  3. Pumpkin (Was Sofia) says:

    I didn’t watch the show but this is absolutely horrible. Even if someone is famous/in the public eye, they do not have to reveal their sexuality to anyone.

  4. Seaflower says:

    Unforgivable that “fans” pressured him to come out.

  5. Krista says:

    Just another example of treating celebrities like zoo animals. They have private lives – they are entitled to them, regardless what they do as work. This queerbaiting argument gets me mad – nobody stops to think that maybe people are trying to figure out who they are, which is hard enough without the added pressure of the spotlight.

    Also? Who cares what their sexuality is? At the end of the day, it shouldn’t matter, any more than it shouldn’t matter what colour their hair is.

  6. Eurydice says:

    This is so painful, and especially coming from a community that’s supposed to be on your side – I hope he has all the support he needs. I would add that we extend grace to all ages, because you don’t always know at what point in life you might realize something about your identity. I have two friends who came out in their 40’s and one who transitioned in their late 60’s. I’m sure the dialog, questioning and processing was somewhat different for them than for an 18-year old, but it was still difficult.

  7. Miss Owlsyn says:

    I’m confused. I clicked on the linked article and am still confused. He was accused of queerbaiting because he played a character that is not hetero? That’s it?

    • ML says:

      @Miss Owlsyn, he plays a bi character on the show, but he was seen holding hands with a cis woman. So he was accused of being straight. Which he is not and now has been forced to reveal against his will before he’s ready.

      • Miss Owlsyn says:

        That’s what I am confused about. A straight actor merely playing a character who is not straight is considered queerbaiting?

    • TrixC says:

      I agree @Miss Owlsyn. He is an actor, playing a role! I know there’s a school of thought now that straight actors shouldn’t be cast in gay roles, but surely that’s problematic for exactly this reason…. it only works if you also expect actors to be public about their sexuality, and they really shouldn’t have to be.

      • Miss Owlsyn says:

        As a straight person, my take on this is not the most valuable and it may miss some nuance. But to me, it seems that in front of the camera, a gay actor or trans actor or bi actor should have equal opportunity to play heterosexual and non hetero roles. That isn’t there yet. There’s also very problematic disparity where a straight actor will play a gay character and it gets them all the awards and is so “brave”, but an openly queer actor still might not get hired to play a straight character because it’s not “believable” (particularly for romantic leads). We need to get to a place of equality where yes, a straight man can play a gay man and it’s no big Oscar-worthy deal, and a queer actor can play a straight romantic lead and it also isn’t a big deal, it just is.

        Representation behind the camera, to me, seems more important. That people are allowed to tell their stories. But again, that’s only my take.

        What happened to this actor is shameful. That’s all there is to it. Torches and pitchforks.

    • AlölClaudia says:

      All the other actors in the show are openly queer or trans or gay or bi – Kit was the only one who didn’t want to announce his sexual orientation. For that he was accused of queerbaiting – and then because he was holding hands with a girl.

      • LIONE says:

        Wait, so this kid is accused of queerbaiting, but Timothee Chalamet and Archie Hammer is not?
        (Or any of the 100’s of other straight actors playing gay or bi characters).

        Make this make sense?
        They’re ACTORS playing FICTIONAL characters, how is that offensive?

        Maybe the fans of this show are too immature to watch it..?

  8. Eowyn says:

    My coming out as an adult was very difficult. The messages I received from my family contributed to severe depression and suicidal thoughts. Not having a community made things incredibly difficult for many years. If the same coming out scenario had played out in my youth, I might not be here.
    Leave the youth and young adults alone and applaud them for developing self knowledge early in their lives. Wonderful that they know identity and orientation can be fluid, or change over time, and amazing when they know they don’t owe anyone else their personal truths, unless they desire to self-identify and feel affirmed in sharing.

  9. Nicegirl says:

    Giving kids space to feel and accept themselves is so important. Thank you for sharing H about your son. I so glad Kit is receiving support from the show runner & his costars. I hope more folks will join in supporting his journey. Thank you for this post. ❤️ 🖖

  10. Ocho says:

    These “fans” are fools. They clearly didn’t understand the entire frickin point of the show.

    Also, as a parent of a pre-teen, I love that there is a show she can watch about being a teen and what a loving, supportive friendship group looks like.

  11. ML says:

    People should have the space to be who they are with who they love. No one should need to come out before they’re ready—this is really difficult to read. I live in a community that is quite open and accepting of different orientations and genders, but the community in which I was raised is not. It can be really dangerous if you don’t fit the norm and it should be up to you how you choose to navigate this.

  12. FhMom says:

    This is horrible. I’m not sure why his sexuality matters to anyone but him.

  13. Case says:

    This is why I take issue with the idea that only queer actors can play queer roles. Not all actors are out — in fact, I’m positive there are way more in the closet than we even realize. But those actors, whether they’re open about their sexuality or not, should be able to tell these very important stories.

    It’s not the same as saying only Black actors can play Black roles, or only disabled actors can play disabled roles. Of COURSE if one is limited to the roles they can play because of race/physical attributes, they should exclusively play those roles, no exceptions. But with sexuality? No, I don’t agree with that. Sexuality is so fluid and just because we *think* we know an actor’s sexuality doesn’t mean anything about how they live their private life, and what stories they want to bring to a wider audience.

  14. PPP says:

    Why are only young people allowed grace? I didn’t really come to terms with my bisexuality until my thirties and I’m still in the closet because unless I’m actively with a woman it’s perceived as something I’m just saying to be edgy, and if I tell guys I’m dating they take it as me being enthusiastically open to a threesome. Furthermore I’m a linguist who often travels to countries that have made queerness illegal so I’m never be completely out of the closet, not just for my own safety but that of my colleagues. Let people handle their sexuality how they want at all ages.

  15. LizzieB says:

    You also can’t ‘queerbait’ as a person. Media like books, TV shows, movies – they can queerbait. But people are just private. It’s insane that these fans wanted to insist they knew about Kit’s sexuality more than he did and that they were owed any type of explanation about his private life. But it’s part of the new direction of fandom – people want to see real life and not actually fictionalised stories so people tinhat that they people involved in the media they consume are those sexualities and then get upset when they are not. See also: Larries of One Direction, The J2 stans of Supernatural and whatever was going on with DomElijah stans during Lord of the Rings. They are all actually conspiracy theorists and they do so much harm to real people just because they can’t separate fact from fiction.

  16. Veronica S. says:

    Wait, wait, wait – the queerbaiting accusations were from a paparazzi shot and NOT the show itself? That’s what I was under the impression, since queerbaiting is about how characters are written. What the actual f*ck if it was about stuff he did in real life. Even if he wasn’t bi and was just being silly with a friend, who cares? Some kid on a television show isn’t the one threatening my rights.

  17. NotSoSocialB says:

    This is all so damn stupid. Leave the poor kid alone, my god.

  18. Wilma says:

    Well said Hecate!

  19. TeamAwesome says:

    Kit as Nick Nelson was one of the most perfect casting assignments ever. If you haven’t watched Heartstopper, I really encourage you to check it out as it is just so *good*. I have watched the whole season multiple times, and I grin all the way through. It is just a warm hug on screen! It is so lovely to see the world that these kids portray vs the one I came through at their age, when Matthew Shepherd was murdered and an anti-gay banner was hung at my university in the same semester. I think it is because Kit is just so good in the show that people want it to be real life. He also got quite a lot of flack for featuring in his best friend’s social accounts, as she is a girl. The cast runs the gamut of the LGBTQIA+ community, with openly gay, trans, non-binary actors, and Kit was actually the most seasoned among the main “teen” roles, having played young Elton John in Rocketman, and a host of other credits. Maybe people are so used to 30 year olds playing teens that they forget these actors are the ages they are playing.