Queer celebrities don’t owe their fans disclosure


Amanda Riha


Zoe Leone, Staff Writer

When the hit Netflix show “Heartstopper” debuted in April, it immediately launched into internet success. The success is due to the portrayal of high schoolers navigating queer identities and relationships. The series, which is based on a set of graphic novels by Alice Oseman, boasted a cast of rather unknown, young actors who were suddenly thrust into the spotlight.

Fans took a particular interest in Kit Connor, the 18-year-old actor who plays Nick Nelson, a teenager coming to terms with his bisexuality. His Instagram following jumped from 200,000 before the show’s premiere, to four million four months later. Among the fanfare, the actor’s own sexuality was called into question on social media and platforms alike for months.

Things took a turn when he was pictured holding hands with a female co-star. Connor, who had taken a break from Twitter due to the constant harassment surrounding his sexuality, began trending on the platform once again as fans accused him of using the LGBTQ communities to boost his career. As the online comments began filling with hate, Connor released a statement of his own.

“back for a minute. i’m bi,” Connor wrote in a tweet posted Oct. 31. “congrats for forcing an 18 year old to out himself. i think some of you missed the point of the show. Bye.”

As fans ripped each other to shreds in the comments and support for the actor began pouring in, Connor became another celebrity to fall victim to the rabid accusations of “queerbaiting.” The word has been thrown around increasingly as of late, but it only goes to show how few people are using it to actually understand its meaning.

It’s a technique used in fiction media where writers and creators hint that a character might be queer in order to attract an LGBTQ audience, without ever actually confirming or portraying any queer representation. To put it simply, real people cannot queerbait. 

Nonetheless, Connor is not the first celebrity to be hit with allegations of queerbaiting, no matter how nonsensical they may be. Halsey, who is openly bisexual, spoke in an  interview with Paper about how she’s often accused of using her sexuality as a way to sell albums. Harry Styles, Taylor Swift, Billie Eilish and Bad Bunny have been run through the news cycle for queerbaiting.

As the number of celebrities being targeted grows and fans get bigger and more malicious in their insistences, an important reminder needs to emerge– queer people don’t owe disclosure, and neither do celebrities.

The decision to come out is a deeply personal one. We recognize it in the people around us, in the communities we center ourselves in and in the friends we surround ourselves with. So why is it a different pressure when it comes to a celebrity?

Perhaps it’s the parasocial relationship that many fans have formed, an inherent emotional bond that starts as one-sided and eventually develops into a belief that one should be privileged to know the answer to this question. Maybe it’s the desire for representation, to see oneself reflected in the people around us and to serve the validation that we’re not alone.

Regardless of the reasons, Connor is another example of why it’s so important to let people explore their sexuality and come out on their own time. Queer people, even famous ones, deserve to be awarded that peace.