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‘Heartstopper’ Star Reminds Everyone Why Accusations of Queerbaiting IRL Are Problematic

kit connor forced to coome out

Heartstopper teen star Kit Connor was forced to come out this weekend rather than enjoy Halloween because alleged show fans kept badgering him about his sexuality.

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Connor, who again, is eighteen, plays the character of Nick Nelson on the show, a young teenager who falls for another boy, Charlie Spring. Nick is not ready to come out yet, while Charlie has been out for a while, and the first season is about both of them learning to trust each other. Nick slowly comes out to his mother and a few others, but it is emphasized that he should take his time—a message that some fans did not get.

Connor was initially off Twitter because he was accused of “queerbaiting” after being seen holding his female co-star’s hand. Queerbaiting, the practice of shows teasing queer fans that a queer couple might happen, but never actually doing it to maintain the heteronormative standard, has been a problem in media. But over time, the word has lost more and more meaning as it has included ships that showrunners have repeatedly said were not queer, with accusations purely based on fan desires. There is nothing wrong with wanting more LGBTQ representation, but it is another thing to harass people about their sexuality.

At eighteen years old, I didn’t know I was bisexual yet—not in a way I seriously acknowledged. I was already Black; I was terrified about being Black and something else. On top of that, biphobia was still all the rage, so it felt like putting a stigma on top of a stigma. It wasn’t until I was 20 that I was finally able to acknowledge that. We keep putting pressure on folks to come out in a way that is unhealthy and unproductive—and for bisexual people, who may sometimes “look like” they are straight depending on how their partner presents, our own identities aren’t taken seriously.

It is one thing to ask how many LGBTQ actors benefit from starring in iconic queer roles and shows. How many in our community get to benefit from LGBTQ media being popular and a massive part of growing a fanbase? It is another thing to force actors to reveal their sexuality. It is one thing to say that we want trans actors playing trans roles, but wanting every queer character to be played by a queer actor is a different animal altogether. But even so, that conversation must occur in our community and with casting directors and studios, not by harassing and forcing actors to reveal their sexuality to the masses. They don’t owe you that, especially when you drag it out of them with petitions to get them fired from their show unless they come out. That is some conservative bullshit.

(featured image: Netflix)

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Princess Weekes
Princess (she/her-bisexual) is a Brooklyn born Megan Fox truther, who loves Sailor Moon, mythology, and diversity within sci-fi/fantasy. Still lives in Brooklyn with her over 500 Pokémon that she has Eevee trained into a mighty army. Team Zutara forever.

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