Why was Kit Connor forced to come out on Twitter, and is Twitter culture harming the LGBTQIA+ community?
Netflix’s show Heartstopper has helped to address the deficit in the representation of the queer community in modern media. With such a kind and accepting message to the show, one would think that the fandom for the show would be just as accepting. Yet, fans of the Heartstopper fandom have harassed Kit Connor, who plays Nick Nelson in the show. Fans ultimately forced Kit Connor to come out publicly on Twitter. This leads to the question: what happened, and how is Twitter culture harming the LGBTQIA+ community?
Netflix’s Heartstopper is a television adaptation of Alice Oseman’s graphic novel series of the same name. The series surrounds the relationship between two students: Charlie and Nick. Nick is a student who is realizing and discovering his bisexuality. In the series, Nick slowly becomes comfortable with his sexuality and is vocal about it on his own terms.
In the television adaptation of the graphic novel by Netflix, actor Kit Connor plays Nick Nelson. While Heartstopper preaches acceptance and kindness towards those discovering and exploring their sexuality, many members of the fandom don’t share the same beliefs.
Harassment, ‘Queerbaiting’, and Being Unlabeled
Though Connor was newly eighteen when the show came out, he was quickly and extensively exposed to harassment by fans of Netflix’s Heartstopper. At first, Connor faced rampant sexualization by many fans — an issue that still occurs today. Soon, people began to question Connor’s sexuality due to his playing a bisexual character. Many began to wonder about his sexuality, with Connor eventually tweeting the following:
Recently, photos surfaced of Connor holding hands with a woman, which led to many people accusing Connor of ‘queerbaiting’. ‘Queerbaiting’ is suggesting queer relationships or status garner the LGBTQIA+ community’s attention, interest, or support. Many saw the label of ‘unlabeled’ as ‘queerbaiting’, even though that label is valid in the LGBTQIA+ community.
These accusations ended in Connor leaving Twitter in September, but this was not the end of this situation.
Connor Being Forced to Come Out
On October 31st, Connor came back onto Twitter. Connor felt forced by the ‘queerbaiting ‘accusations against him and came out as bisexual:
In his statement, Connor points out the hypocrisy of those who enjoyed Heartstopper and still forced him to come out, stating, “I think some of you missed the point of the show.” Many fans of Connor have expressed their sadness and disgust toward this situation on Twitter and TikTok. Additionally, Alice Oseman, the writer and artist of the Heartstopper graphic novels, posted the following statement on Twitter: “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**K. Kit you are amazing.”
Twitter Culture and the LGBTQIA+ Community
Kit Connor having been forced to come out is an atrocity. The label ‘unlabeled’ is valid and should have been enough for the world and fans to understand. One should not have to state a label for their sexuality.
In a larger picture, some have said this situation shows biphobia and the erasure of bisexual people in the queer community. This is because the ‘queerbaiting allegations’ gained traction when Connor was seen holding hands with a woman as an unlabeled man. Many view this as the LGBTQIA+ community stating the invalidity of queerness in bisexual people who belong to heterosexual relationships.
What do we take from this awful situation? No one owes you an explanation of their sexuality. Not if they’re a celebrity, a friend, or even a family member — no one. Coming to terms with one’s sexuality is a long process. Therefore, no person should have to come out before they are ready. It is a shame that it took Kit Connor’s harassment to show this to the internet.