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This is Not Queerbaiting: “Heartstopper” Actor Kit Connor Forced to Come Out

by: Emily Lohr

Photo Courtesy of Netflix

Recently, “Heartstopper” star Kit Connor sent a tweet that garnered a lot of attention. In this tweet, he said: “back for a minute. 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”

This arose due to recent allegations of the show “Heartstopper” using “queerbaiting.” Urban Dictionary defines “queer baiting” as a “marketing technique used to attract queer viewers that involves creating romantic or sexual tension between two same-sex characters but never making it canon or evolving on it.”

Queer baiting is a strategy used by a corporation or business by pulling views in, alluding to LGBTQ reflection, only to not actually represent. As a result, this can make those LGBTQ viewers feel minimized, while also allowing heterosexual audiences to not feel discriminated against. 

Essentially, queer baiting is companies using the image of LGBTQ  as pawns in their sick game of capitalism.

The concept of “queer baiting” has gotten so twisted through the years. Real humans can’t queer bait. Real humans aren’t trying to deceive the audience for personal gain. This includes Kit Connor, an 18 year old, who was proudly unlabeled. 

Kit Connor is a real human, a young one at that, just trying to find his place in this world. Coming out is a very personal, intimate moment for people. Being forced to do so in order to keep your job is just immoral.

As a guest on the podcast “Reign With Josh Smith,” Connor spoke about his opinion on being labeled. “I’m not too big on labels and things like that,” Connor said. “I’m not massive about that, and I don’t feel like I need to label myself, especially publicly.”

As Connor mentioned previously, those that forced him to identify himself missed the whole point of the “Heartstopper.” Connor’s character on the show, Nick Nelson, has a crisis throughout the season of how to identify himself. 

Everyone on the show view him as heterosexual, since he never spoke out of being anything but before that point.  However, he meets Charlie, who makes him question his sexuality. In the end, Nick Nelson realizes he is bisexual, and he had time throughout the show to make himself comfortable with that label, since he wasn’t rushed to do so.

However, in reality, that is unfortunately not Kit Connor’s experience.

Some people do like labels. It can give them a sense of belonging and identity. This can be seen worldwide. In America, 21% of the Generation Z population who have reached adulthood (born between 1997 and 2003) identify as LGBT. In England, where Kit Connor lives, the number of U.K. youth who identify as queer has doubled in the last four years (from 4 percent to 8 percent).

That being said, not everyone likes labels. Some feel as though it constrains them, like it boxes them in. Some feel as though once they label themselves, their label will be their only identity. They may fear other traits of theirs will be overshadowed by their sexuality label.

I’m sorry, Kit Connor. I’m sorry you didn’t get all the time you needed in order to fully flourish.

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