“Congrats on forcing an 18 year old to out himself,” the Heartstopper star wrote.
Heartstopper’s Kit Connor has come out as bisexual. But while celebrity coming out stories are often (rightfully) met with joyful support, Connor’s announcement is bittersweet — because the decision to come out at this moment in time was forced on him.
The 18-year-old actor stars in Netflix’s Heartstopper, which centers around the friendship and budding romance between his character, Nick, and Charlie (played by Joe Locke). The show is as sweet as it is groundbreaking, considering that just a few years back, LGBTQ+ shows were virtually non-existent on the streaming platform.
In real life, though, “queerbaiting” allegations and questions about Connor’s sexuality have been Twitter fodder for months. For the uninitiated, “queerbaiting” is a term used to describe shows and movies that allude to or slyly depict LGBTQ+ relationships or representation, with the intention of garnering more fans and viewers — though, as them pointed out, it’s now mostly used in reference to celebrities “who look or act queer without explicitly saying or coming out as queer.”
Within weeks of Heartstopper’s April 2022 premiere, Connor tweeted, “apparently some people on here know my sexuality better than I do.” The accusations resurfaced this September, after photos surfaced of the actor holding hands with Maia Reficco, his A Cuban Girl’s Guide to Tea and Tomorrow co-star; that time, it was enough to lead Connor to quit Twitter.
But Connor returned to the app this week to officially put an end to the rumors: “back for a minute,” he wrote. “i’m bi. congrats for forcing an 18 year old to out himself. i think some of you missed the point of the show. bye.”
Supporters have quickly rallied around the actor, including Alice Oseman, whose comic-turned-graphic-novel inspired the Netflix series. “I truly don't understand how people can watch Heartstopper and then gleefully spend their time speculating about sexualities and judging based on stereotypes,” they tweeted. “I hope all those people are embarrassed as FUCK. Kit you are amazing.”
Accusing people of queerbaiting is, sadly, nothing new in the entertainment industry. In the past couple months alone, both Harry Styles and Bad Bunny have been the subject of such talk. But that doesn’t mean it’s okay — and it’s important to remember that Connor is only 18 years old, just barely an adult. For the Heartstopper star and anyone else, famous or otherwise, the decision to address their sexuality should always and only be on their own terms.
Connor isn’t the only celebrity who’s been forced to come out as a response to public scrutiny, either. In 2006, Neil Patrick Harris came out in a New York Magazine interview when rumors about his sexuality, started by Perez Hilton, ran rampant. And more recently, in June of this year, Rebel Wilson spoke about feeling pressured to come out when Australia’s Sydney Morning Herald reportedly reached out to the Pitch Perfect star to share that they were planning to publish news of Wilson’s new relationship with entrepreneur Ramona Arguma.
It shouldn’t need to be said, but let’s be clear: Whether we’re talking about a young star like Connor, an industry veteran like Wilson, or anyone else — famous or otherwise — the decision to address their sexuality should always and only be on their own terms.