Kit Connor, the star who played Heartstopper’s deuteragonist Nick Nelson, has been forced to come out as bisexual due to extensive pressure from fans.
The announcement was made on Twitter at 12.02 AM, during the 1st November, in which the eighteen-year old expressed his unhappiness with the situation. He claimed that he was “forced” to out himself, and that “some of [the fans] missed the point of the show”.
Heartstopper was adapted from Alice Oseman’s coming-of-age comic series with the same name, which tells the story of a schoolboy, Charlie Spring (Joe Locke), who falls in love with his classmate, Nick Nelson (Kit Connor). Netflix acquired the publication rights from See-Saw films in 2021 and it was subsequently released on the streaming platform a year later, becoming an influential series within the LGBTQ+ community due to its bright colours, touching plotline and its theme of discovering oneself in a non-pressurising manner. Scenes of heightened affection were filmed using a combination of live-action and 2D animation, tying the episodes back to their hand-drawn origin.
The series garnered over 14,550,000 hours of viewing in its first week of release and maintains a 100% score on Rotten Tomatoes. It has been renewed for a second season, in which the date is yet to be announced.
Due to the identification queer fans have felt in regards to Charlie and Nick, viewers of the show have been keen to find out if Kit Connor identifies with the community himself, despite him still being very young. He had previously shown that he was not comfortable with disclosing his sexuality. During an interview the star attended on the podcast Reign With Josh Smith, he told listeners how much pressure the actors were facing to label themselves, and how they should be wary about applying one to themselves whilst still in their late teens.
Whilst this boundary should have been respected, this was not enough to silence the push for a revelation. Kit has since been backed by the rest of the cast for his words of disappointment and has been thoroughly supported.
In a time claiming to be open and inclusive, this is not the only instance where a star has been pressured into coming out. In 2020, it was claimed that the press blackmailed Nikki de Jaeger to come out as bisexual and not allowing her to do so on her own terms. She said that had always planned to tell her fans but not under influence of an external source which took away her consent, and autonomy.
Similarly, Harry Style has been accused of queer-baiting due to his lack of disclosure of a diverse sexuality label. The 28-year-old star believes that disclosing your sexuality is now “outdated”, as someone should not have to “clarify which boxes [they are] checking”.
As a demographic, we should aim to put less pressure on celebrities to share personal information. Whilst many of us crave the certainty of LGBTQ+ influencers supporting us in our journeys of self-discovery, we should also learn to respect the boundaries of others, acknowledging that they have a right to withhold their identity from the public. They too are still figuring themselves out, just as we are. Let’s enjoy this experience together, and remember that they are just people too.