After taking a break from Twitter, Heartstopper actor Kit Connor briefly logged back onto the site yesterday to come out as bisexual. The announcement didn’t come of his own accord though, but was instead a product of bullying and accusations of queer-baiting. Connor has been offline since September (announcing then that he might delete the app altogether) because of the onslaught of online hate he received about his sexuality after he was spotted holding hands with A Cuban Girl’s Guide to Tea and Tomorrow costar Maia Reffico in Paris.
“back for a minute. i’m bi. congrats for forcing an 18 year old to out himself,” he wrote. “i think some of you missed the point of the show. Bye”
Connor rose to fame last spring when he played Nick Nelson in the queer teenybopper Netflix series Hearstopper. In it, he starred opposite Charlie Spring (played by Joe Locke) with whom his character developed a budding romance, complicated by Nick’s struggles with his sexuality. At the end of the season, Nick comes out as bisexual (and as Charlie’s boyfriend) to his family and friends. Prior to the show, Locke has spoken publicly about his experiences as a young gay man, while Connor has explained in interviews that he doesn’t feel the need to label his sexuality.
“I mean, for me, I feel like I’m perfectly confident and comfortable with my sexuality,” Connor told Pink News last May. “I’m not too big on labels and things like that. I’m not massive about that, and I don’t feel like I need to label myself, especially publicly.”
Apple MacBook Air Laptop
The M1 chip delivers 3.5x faster performance than the previous generation all while using way less power. Get up to 18 hours of battery life.
After yesterday’s frustrated tweet, fans immediately came to Connor’s defense, enraged by the fact that false accusations brought him to the point of having to come out against his will. Many wrote about what Heartstopper means to them, calling what is happening to Connor “gut wrenching.”
“that’s the one thing that nick nelson was afraid of, and you’ve done it to the person who [embodied] him,” one fan wrote.
Even Alice Oseman, the author of the graphic novel on which the show is based, spoke out in support of Connor. “I truly don’t understand how people can watch Heartstopper and then gleefully spend their time speculating about sexualities and judging based on stereotypes,” she wrote. “I hope all those people are embarrassed as FUCK. Kit you are amazing 💖”
Others were also quick to point out that queer-baiting is a literary device, and not something that people in real life can actually enact. While musicians like Harry Styles and Bad Bunny have recently been the target of similar accusations, and social media has blurred the lines between what’s real and what’s perceived, Them writer James Factora clarified that “real life people are not fictional characters and can’t be defined neatly by pre-determined narratives.”
Our society’s preoccupation with coming out—something that is portrayed in the media as brave and momentous—has made it so that the absence of confirmation is an invitation to speculate (to the point of ruthlessness) about someone’s sexuality. And while coming out can be empowering for some, in Connor’s case, being comfortable with not being confined by labels made things worse, and those who claim to love him actually drove him to do what he wasn’t ready to. Without the external pressure, who knows if Connor ever would have felt the need to come out as anything?
It’s probably the worst case scenario of life imitating art to date.