Kit Connor didn’t queerbait you

We are not entitled to celebrities’ sexual identities

Kit Connor spoke out about feeling forced to come out
Photo: 

Congrats, internet—once again, you’ve taken things too far.

Last week, Kit Connor, one of the leading actors in the popular Netflix queer romance show, Heartstopper, came out—unwillingly—in a tweet that condemned users who had pressured him to define his sexuality with accusations of queerbaiting and general harassment.

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.”

He couldn’t be more right. 

In Heartstopper, two high school boys attempt to navigate their sexuality, love, coming
out, and the stigmas surrounding queer romance. One of the show’s most significant takeaways is no one should ever feel pressured to define their sexuality, and if they choose to, it’s theirs to define.

It’s ironic the internet took the show’s message—finding comfort in who you are without needing to define it to others—and ensured Connor didn’t get the same courtesy. Connor has faced an onslaught of queerbaiting accusations for the past month because he played a bisexual character on TV.

The definition of ‘queerbaiting’ has been modified to become ammunition used to pressure celebrities to define their sexuality, and this is a big problem.

Traditionally, queerbaiting describes works of fiction that hint at, but then never depict, queer romance, identities, or relationships. In short, it’s a marketing technique that ‘baits’ queerness to attract queer audiences.

This definition has quickly evolved and adapted to being applied to celebrities who ‘appropriate’ queer culture and aesthetics to draw in support and fans from LGBTQ+ communities. Usually, this is done with good intentions; it’s an effort to hold those appropriating queer culture accountable.

Here’s the thing: real people can’t queerbait you. 

More often than not, this rhetoric forces celebrities to come out before they’re ready—like Connor.

While yes, Hollywood needs to cast LGBTQ+ actors as LGBTQ+ characters, accusing an eighteen-year-old who hasn’t yet defined their identity of queerbaiting simply because he plays a queer character is wrong.

Connor doesn’t owe his identity to anyone, and he wasn’t even appropriating queer culture.

For those who need a wakeup call: no one, not even the world’s most popular celebrity who lives every waking minute in the spotlight, needs to disclose their sexual orientation.

A person’s sexual identity is theirs, and theirs alone. You’re not entitled to their sexuality, no matter how much other personal information they share with the world. Sexuality is personal and intimate to each person; it’s theirs to share, or not share.

It’s imperative to ensure Hollywood isn’t profiting off sexualities, but robbing individuals of their own coming out experience, or pressuring them to define their sexual orientation, is wrong.

Let me be blunt: that’s exactly what the media did to Connor. He felt so harassed and hurt by the accusations, he was robbed of his own coming-out experience. He didn’t want to label his sexuality but had no choice after the media’s commentary. It’s heartbreaking.

The media needs to be better. We need to be better.

Let this act as a reminder: you can feel comfortable and confident in your sexuality without needing to disclose it to other people. Your sexuality is yours and yours alone.

Dear Kit Connor, on behalf of the internet, I’m sorry.

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