Kit Connor Says He Was 'Forced' to Come Out as Bisexual

Kit Connor Says He Was 'Forced' to Come Out as Bisexual

Heartstopper, the British coming-of-age romantic comedy, captured the hearts of countless people since its Netflix premiere earlier this year. The show tells of a young gay boy, played by Joe Locke, falling in love with a popular rugby player, played by Kit Connor.

Connor's character deals with the conflicting feelings he has as he figures out his sexuality. In real life, it appears he was not offered the same amount of grace as fans and critics of the show accused him of queerbaiting.

The accusations began after Connor was photographed with Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin star Maia Reficco. Because Connor never addressed his sexuality publicly, people assumed he was straight and took on a gay role. He eventually deleted Twitter for a bit as the criticism ramped up.

Connor came back on October 31 after over a month off the website to finally address the queerbaiting accusations, formally coming out as bisexual. "Congrats for forcing an 18 year old to out himself," the tweet said. The Heartstopper star also acknowledged the hypocrisy of forcing someone to come out when the whole point of the show is to show the importance of giving each other space to explore at their own pace.

As many people have said following Connor's coming out, people cannot queerbait. The term became popularized in the 2010s within fan communities to denote works of fiction that hint at LGBTQ+ relationships or representation but never actually show it, enticing LGBTQ+ people to watch. One of the most well known cases is BBC's Sherlock, which features a long-running joke of characters mistaking the show's titular character and his beloved sidekick John Watson for a homosexual couple, which they repeatedly deny for comedic effect.

Since then, queerbaiting has taken on another meaning to refer to someone who "acts" queer or portrays queer characters without coming out. Harry Styles is perhaps one of the best known cases of queerbaiting in this instance, as some people felt that the singer panders to an LGBTQ+ audience and appropriates parts of the queer identity. He was also cast in the 1950s gay love story, My Policeman.

Styles eventually addressed the rumors. "Sometimes people say, 'You've only publicly been with women,' and I don't think I've publicly been with anyone," the singer said. "If someone takes a picture of you with someone, it doesn't mean you're choosing to have a public relationship or something."

Following Connor's unfortunately rushed decision to come out about his sexuality, his cast mates and Heartstopper's creator stepped in to offer encouragement.

Photo courtesy of Joe Schildhorn & Astra Marina Cabras/BFA