Kit Connor rues the “regrettable” way toxic fans outed him
(Credit: Netflix)


Kit Connor rues the "regrettable" way toxic fans outed him

Kit Connor and Joe Locke, stars of the hit series Heartstopper, are veritably adorable, together and otherwise. But Connor’s brushes with fame have not been a smooth ride.

Last year, after Heartstopper was released on Netflix, toxic fans accused Connor of queerbaiting for playing a character who identifies as bisexual. As a result, he felt forced to come out.

“Back for a minute,” Connor tweeted. “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.”

Locke and Connor opened up about the challenges of navigating their personal lives and privacy while under the spotlight in a recent interview with Teen Vogue. The interview was conducted before the onset of the ongoing WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes, which have prompted many industry professionals to halt promoting their works in solidarity.

The interview sheds light on how the young actors are taking charge of their narratives in an era where the line between public and private is increasingly blurred.

Connor reflected, “It’s regrettable what happened to me. I think it was a bit disappointing. The reaction that I got in just trying to be myself and trying to discover myself and putting boundaries up. But despite that, I was still happy.”

Later that day, Locke, who remembered waking up to the viral tweet, had hugged Connor on set. He mentioned, “We were all very proud of him, and we’re proud of him controlling the narrative…. I’m very proud of him for doing his own thing and what was right for him.” 

Locke, who has been openly gay since he was 12, also pointed out, “There’s an idea that it’s part of the job to lose your privacy, that you lose your right to having privacy. That’s something I hope the next generation of people in the public eye can change…. I think people are understanding that privacy is a non-negotiable.”

Connor was not really guilty of queerbaiting because queerbaiting refers to a marketing or storytelling strategy where creators hint at or suggest LGBTQ+ representation to attract and engage queer audiences without delivering on it genuinely. It exploits the community’s desire for authentic portrayal while often avoiding actual inclusion, leading to disappointment and backlash.

An actor’s job is to play the role at hand with as much authenticity and nuance as possible. And the harassment Connor faced is another example of why it is a dangerous slope to demand to be privy to every detail of an actor’s personal life. This is also a knee-jerk reaction from a section of the fans who seem to have confused gender identity with sexuality.

“The show we’re doing is really setting blueprints for people to know how to treat these delicate situations, and how to make people feel safe and comfortable,” said Connor before summing up aptly, “It felt like certain people didn’t quite understand the show and the original message that we were trying to portray in season one. So if that’s the case, then we’ll just keep hammering it home in season two and hope that people listen.”