An Open Letter to Kit Connor

kit connor heartstopper gay bisexual controversy commentary

First things first: I don’t want to be writing this. I don’t want to feel compelled to. And I hope I don’t need to, because Kit Connor has such a solid support system that he doesn’t have any reason to take comfort in the words of random website editors. But I have no idea whether the Heartstopper star does or doesn’t have adequate backup, so here we are.

I wasn’t surprised when online “fans” of the superlative Netflix series hounded the actor into outing himself as bi. Social media, after all, is the cesspool that actual cesspools look at and go, “Oh my God, that’s vile.” But seeing in Connor’s tweet that he was upset, I was upset — in part, because he’s a kid, and coming out as anything can be harrowing at any age, never mind doing so under duress, and in part, because I worried that this might somehow taint his Heartstopper experience.

So this is what I want to say to Connor. I hope that you don’t let this violation of your privacy and disregard for your peace of mind take away from the knowledge that you gave a beautiful performance (and now, an Emmy-nominated one to boot). I hope that, as you grapple with your reaction to soulless trolls, you bear in mind the uncountable number of viewers who have been moved — often helped — by the show. I hope that you remember how many of us have appreciated your advocacy for the embattled LGBTQ+ community (even before you were ready to say, “I’m one of you”).

Finally, I hope that the ugliness of this incident doesn’t diminish your pride and joy at playing Nick Nelson, hands down the most beloved Golden Retriever in television history. (Sorry, Comet.) As you work on Season 2 of Heartstopper, I hope that you don’t come to associate the role with the way that you’ve been badgered but with the way that you, the whole gang and the whole show have been embraced. What happened sucks; please don’t let it make Heartstopper suck for you.

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