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What We Can All Learn From Kit Connor’s Forced Coming Out

By Christine Siamanta Kinori

IMAGE CREDIT: Netflix

Culture is changing, but it is still amazing how people still don’t understand how things like privacy work. This was the case for Kit Connor, who was hit hard with allegation of queerbaiting until he was forced to state his sexual orientation. Kit Connor is a young star at 18 years old who shot up to fame when he played the role of Nick Nelson in Netflix hit drama Heartstopper.

Nick Nelson is a celebrated high school rugby star. He helplessly falls in love with Charlie Spring in the show. The thrilling series explores LGBTQ identity, sexuality, internalized homophobia, and first loves.

On the show, Nick and Charlie spend the day on a stunning English beach, confessing and declaring themselves boyfriends. But the biggest hurdle is Nick telling his mother. But when he gets back home, his mother notes his happiness. He pauses for a moment and makes a cup of tea, planning how to approach her. But motherly instincts are alert, and she can tell her son is wrestling with a big issue.

“Charlie is my boyfriend, but I still like girls and boys. Charlie and I have been going out, and I wanted you to know,” He confesses breathlessly.

Sarah, Kit’s mother, listens intently with a little smile and does not interrupt him. Instead, after confiding in her, she embraces him without reservation. Sarah was grateful that Nick came out clean, and she embraced him warmly.

This whole scenario was meant to send a message to fans. However, as Kit said, most missed the message and instead harassed the star to come out of the closet. The climactic scene depicts that Nick took over eight episodes to learn his true identity. Finally, he can tell his mother openly and on his own terms.

For a long time, Connor has been facing accusations of queerbaiting and the issue became so problematic in his life that he chose to leave social media for a while. The issue sprung up after he was spotted holding hands with Maia Refico (a female actor) in Paris. After premiering in a show where two boys fall in love, some fans accused Kit of projecting himself as queer. Some offensive tweets even suggested he should leave the show.

Since the start of Heartstopper in April, Kit has complained of being pressured to discuss his sexuality publicly. He has said that he felt uncomfortable with speculation about his sexuality and coming out when not ready. Fans also tried to predict his sexuality based on his appearance and voice.

Kit Connor’s coming out as bisexual has sparked conversations about queerbaiting and actors’ authenticity. Could it be that all actors who queerbait are within the LGBTQ community? Is it possible to separate acting from the character?

The LGBTQ community has firmly said that gay characteristics should be displayed by gay actors. However, we’ve seen straight characters playing queer roles and even getting awarded for it. It’s pretty interesting to see people joining the conversation.

This is not the first time people in the entertainment industry have found themselves dodging queerbaiting allegations. It seems that people are more interested in trying to speculate about celebrities’ sexuality and are overlooking the fact that it is extremely rude and intrusive.

Celebrities such as Harry Styles ,Maluma and BTS are always finding themselves being the center of these needless conversations. There is always pressure to state their sexual orientation publicly and fans expect actors and actress who are part of an LGBTQ+ project to be queer.

Fans pressuring Kit Connor to come out of the closet are wrong. This young star and others need privacy as much as anyone else. They can decide to come out at 16 or 60 and it is literally never our business.

The relentless pressure and expectations of who a celebrity can like is harmful to their mental health. It is unacceptable and borders on harassment. They owe their fans nothing but their work. Their personal life is their business and who they choose to love is not a matter for saucy discussion. There needs to be a clear line between art and privacy that both the fans and these celebrities should respect.

Sexuality is an intimate personal journey and everyone discovers it on their own terms. These celebrities should be afforded the same courtesy. If they feel ready and safe to talk about it publicly then it is okay but to harass them online and demand for them to open up about it is wrong.

Kit Connor didn’t deserve the pressure and scrutiny. Whether straight or queer, no one owes anyone an explanation!

About the Author:

Christine Siamanta Kinori grew up in a little village in Kenya known as Loitoktok near the border of Kenya and Tanzania. All she wanted to do when she grew up was to explore the world. Her curiosity led her to join Nairobi University to pursue a degree in Journalism and Mass Communications. She later got a job with an amazing travel magazine Nomad Africa which gave her the opportunity to explore Africa. She also writes for numerous travel websites about Africa and tries to create a new narrative in the media about our aesthetic continent.

Christine claims to have somewhat unhealthy addiction to TV and reading, as it is a fun way to keep herself occupied during the long journeys for her travel writing. She is also a believer of letting people be their beautiful selves. To her, love is love and it is the greatest gift we have as humans.

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