Kit Connor is best known for playing Nick in the LGBTQ+ Netflix rom-com series “Heartstopper,” which follows teens as they navigate their way through school, their feelings, and their sexualities. While the series itself spotlights LGBTQ+ characters in a beautifully authentic way — giving many of them ample space to come out in their own time — the compassionate messaging behind the show appeared to have been lost on many when Connor was seemingly bullied into announcing his bisexuality.
In a tweet shared late on Oct. 31, 2022, the “Rocketman” star announced that he is bisexual, but he added that he felt forced to come out after being harassed by fans. “back for a minute. i’m bi,” the actor wrote. “congrats for forcing an 18 year old to out himself. i think some of you missed the point of the show. bye.”
In a Teen Vogue interview published on Aug. 7, Connor’s “Heartstopper” costar Joe Locke addressed the online incident and shared that he was glad Connor decided to do things on his own terms. “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,” said Locke said, adding that he’d hugged Connor on set the day the tweet was posted. “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 nonnegotiable.”
Locke had also shared support on Twitter the same day Connor posted his tweet, writing, “You owe nothing to anyone. I’m so proud of you my friend 💕.” Kizzy Edgell, who plays Darcy Olsson, tweeted, “love u kit im sorry this has been so disgustingly rough on you. been treated so unfairly,” while costar Sebastian Croft, who plays Ben Hope, wrote, “Kit Connor, the world doesn’t deserve you. Love you my friend ❤️.”
“Heartstopper” writer Alice Oseman responded by tweeting, “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 FUCK. Kit you are amazing 💖.”
The toxicity that prompted Connor’s tweet was largely due to him being accused of queerbaiting by fans following pictures of him holding hands with his costar in “A Cuban Girl’s Guide to Tea and Tomorrow,” queer actor Maia Reficco. Due to troubling comments directed at Connor, he’d exited Twitter in September 2022 with a tweet that read, “This is a silly silly app. bit bored of it now, deleting twitter :),” yet he made a fleeting return a month later to set the record straight.
“I also don’t know if I would have ever done it. But at the end of the day I don’t regret it. In many ways it was really empowering.”
Nine months after his initial tweet, Connor opened up in the August issue of Vogue about the troubling experience. “I’m a young man, so I’m already kind of going through certain things, in terms of just life and mental health,” he said. “I just needed to let that energy out.” While he initially felt “forced” to come out, he has since taken stock of the situation. “I think ‘forced’ isn’t the right word I would use, but I would say that I would have preferred to do it another way,” he said. “I also don’t know if I would have ever done it. But at the end of the day I don’t regret it. In many ways it was really empowering.”
At the time, Connor was coming to terms with his own sexuality and where he fit in. “It’s the experience of maybe you’re too straight to be gay and you’re too gay to be straight. So it’s like, ‘Where do I sit?’ But I feel much more secure in myself now,” he told the outlet. “I just felt like it wasn’t something I was ready to talk about. I wasn’t angry. I was just slightly disappointed by this reaction.”
Connor had also previously spoken about unnecessary speculation surrounding his sexuality and his unease at being labeled. “To start sort of speculating about our sexualities and maybe pressuring us to come out when maybe we’re not ready. For me, I just feel perfectly confident and comfortable with my sexuality,” he said on the Reign With Josh Smith podcast in May 2022. “But I don’t feel the need to really, you know — I’m not too big on labels and things like that. I’m not massive about that.”
He went on to reflect on the bizarre phenomenon of judging, labeling, and conjuring up unwarranted theories about people in the public eye. “It feels a bit strange to make assumptions about a person’s sexuality just based on hearing their voice or seeing their appearance. I feel like that’s a very interesting, slightly problematic sort of assumption to make,” he said on the podcast.
At the time of Connor’s initial coming out tweet, Olivia Colman also spoke out in support of her onscreen son, letting him know just how proud she is of him. On Dec. 1, 2022, the Oscar winner told Variety just how much she admired her “Heartstopper” costar after he was bullied into coming out as bisexual on social media. “I am so proud of him, but I am not proud of how people bullied him,” Colman said. “I think people should be allowed to have their own journey. But I’m incredibly proud of him as a young man to deal with all of that and be in the spotlight. It’s unfair, but he’s amazing. He’s a very beautiful human being.”
The whole ordeal is ultimately a reminder that celebrities are human too, and fans aren’t entitled to everything. No one should feel pressured to publicly announce their sexuality before they’re comfortable in doing or saying so — especially a teenager. “Reading tweets like this is heartbreaking . . . especially when Heartstopper taught so many people around the world the true value of someone’s personal coming out story,” one fan tweeted in response to Connor’s original tweet. “I’m so sorry you had this moment taken away from you Kit, but let’s hope people will learn from it!”