"Heartstopper"'s Kit Connor and Queerbaiting Accusations


Kit Connor as Nick Nelson in the Netflix production "Heartstopper." (Rob Youngson / Netflix) https://www.nbcnews.com/nbc-out/out-pop-culture/heartstopper-star-kit-connor-says-forced-come-out-bisexual-rcna54975

The Netflix original series “Heartstopper,” based on the graphic novel series by Alice Oseman, was released globally on April twenty second of 2022. Since then, the show has received an overwhelming amount of support. Seeing two queer main characters along with representations of various other communities has been huge for audiences everywhere. However, with all of this positive feedback from fans, there has also been controversy. Hate is almost always inevitable when it comes to the abyss that is the internet, but this hate became so severe, pressuring a teenager to come out publicly, and outraging many of the show’s fans and surrounding communities.

On October 31, of this year, Kit Connor returned to Twitter. After deleting the app due to negativity over a month prior, his return to Twitter was unexpected yet disappointing nonetheless. Connor’s tweet reads, “back for a minute. 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,” As replies of frustration and reassurance filled the comments, the post gained one million likes. Alice Oseman and Kit Connor’s co-star Joe Locke were quick to reply to the message with words of encouragement. Also in the comments, fans found replies from Omar Rudberg and Edvin Ryding, members of the cast of “Young Royals,” a swedish queer romance that has also recently taken the world by storm. This is not to mention the fact that Neflix has also changed its Twitter bio as a result of this frustrating event. It reads, “We love you, Kit Connor,” The impact of this tweet and rather the events that lead up to it immediately became clear. The “Heartstopper” fandom along with fans of shows with similar messages to that of “Heartstopper” and queer communities in general rushed to advocate for Kit Connor. The upset that this one tweet had caused to this community was truly astounding.

Coming out is a uniquely personal journey for everyone. However, on October 31, 2022, this experience was taken away from actor Kit Connor. Since the release of “Heartstopper” Connor had been confident in remaining unlabeled in terms of his sexuality. He became a role model for many young people who did not feel the need to label their own sexualities. As time went on, it became increasingly more difficult for Connor to remain unlabeled due to accusations of “queerbaiting.” Queerbaiting can be defined as a marketing technique that hints at queer relationships or LGBTQ+ identifying characters without following through, capitalizing off of LGBTQ audiences. Recently, this concept has been adapted to apply to real people. This may have started off with good intentions to hold celebrities accountable for profiting off of queer media/culture and to ensure the fact that LGBTQ+ roles are given to actual LGBTQ+ people. However, it became harmful very quickly, giving people online the feeling of entitlement to demand an explanation of the sexuality of unlabled celebrities.

This issue quickly began to impact the eighteen year old actor Kit Connor. Because he was unlabeled upon the release of “Heartstopper,” audiences began to accuse Connor of “queerbaiting” due to the fact that he played a queer character, Nick Nelson, but did not publicly disclose his sexuality. After excessive speculation and conspiracy theories, the harassment surrounding Connor’s sexual orientation pressured him into coming out, robbing him of an experience that should have been on his own terms. Although it is important for LGBTQ+ roles to be represented accurately, forcing celebrities out of the closet is not the way to accomplish this. The term “queerbaiting” quickly became abused by the internet, and should never be used an excuse to demand explanations from anyone about such a personal and intimate aspect of a person’s life.