entertainment

Kit Connor’s sexuality is none of your business




CNN

The pressure on 18-year-old actor Kit Connor to come out has been building on social media for months.

Connor, a star of Netflix’s teen romantic comedy ‘Heartstopper,’ said on Monday he felt pressured to come out of the closet — a disturbing new development at the intersection of cancel culture and police. identity.

In the coming-of-age series with a refreshingly forward-thinking plot, Connor plays Nick Nelson, a British high school rugby player, alongside his schoolmate Charlie Spring, played by Joe Locke, who falls in love with him. Over the course of the eight-episode series, adapted from Alice Oseman’s graphic novel of the same name, Nick begins to question his own sexuality amid his growing feelings for Charlie.

The show was so well received when it launched this year that it has already been renewed for two more seasons. He’s one of the first LGBTQ-centric characters — both Nick and Charlie, as well as others in the main cast — aimed at a teen and young adult audience. Unlike shows like “Sex Education” and “Euphoria,” which, while wonderfully sexually and sexually diverse, are more explicit.

Calls for Connor to address his own orientation began this spring with taunts on Twitter, which he addressed in a tweetsaying, “Twitter is such a funny man. apparently some people here know my sexuality better than I do…” However, that pressure did not lessen, and Connor became the target of what the social media mobs have dubbed “queerbaiting,” with claims the show was trying to appeal to people with broader LGBTQ-inclusive themes without being deliberate in revealing its character’s identity — and perhaps Connor was doing the same.

The truth about Nelson’s character, as well as Connor’s real identity, can be much more nuanced. Nevertheless, Connor, who clearly felt backed into a corner, tweeted on Halloween to his 1 million followers that he was bisexual: “Come back a minute. I’m bi,” he wrote. “Congratulations on forcing an 18 year old out of hiding. I think some of you missed the point of the show. bye.”

There’s a lot to unpack in this story, including the fact that a young adult has been forced to very publicly share parts of their own identity that are very private – and may still be in flux.

Connor has felt the pressure of a moralistic social media mob, a force quick to attack and slow to forgive, that demands you answer his questions immediately and with no room for nuance or context. This is not how we should operate as a culture.

Sometimes the Twitter crowd shines a light on real issues and brings them to favorable results faster. Other times, he blows everything up and walks away, oblivious to the victims he leaves in his wake.

Connor’s exit is the latest in a string of celebrities recently forced to come out on their own, lest the tabloid media expose or do it for them, and contrasts with the long history of Hollywood celebrities forced stay in the closet or risk their lives. careers.

From closed actor Rock Hudson in the 20th century to openly trans actor Elliot Page today, entertainers have long had to live double lives and hide their true identities to stay on the A-list — even to stay safe and healthy. life. It took Ellen DeGeneres decades to rebuild her career after she appeared on the cover of TIME magazine in 1997, alongside her character on the ABC sitcom of the same name.

It’s true that many LGBTQ characters in contemporary media have evolved — from murderers, murder victims, sex workers, and one-dimensional characters who provide a punch line — into actual human beings, including those who aren’t. not just the sidekick but the lead roles.

They include Michaela Jay Rodriguez, Billy Porter, Dominique Jackson and Indya Moore on FX’s “Pose”; Sara Ramirez as Callie Torres in “Grey’s Anatomy” (and, yes, as Che Diaz in the “Sex and the City” spin-off “And Just Like That”); the cast of this year’s films ‘Fire Island’ and ‘BROS’ and Zendaya as Rue Bennett from HBO’s ‘Euphoria’, to name a few. We have come a long way in a short time in terms of media representation.

(HBO and HBO Max are both owned by CNN’s parent company, Warner Bros. Discovery.)

(From left to right) The cast of

Now, LGBTQ audiences are rightly asking the tough questions about who can play LGBTQ characters. Is a cisgender person playing a transgender character equal to a white actor in blackface, or playing a BIPOC person, or is there a different litmus test? Does acting mean playing a character separate from the actor’s personal identity, or are there rules that we still need to establish and properly maintain?

Cisgender actors like Eddie Redmayne, who was nominated for an Oscar for his role as a transgender woman in ‘The Danish Girl,’ later said he regretted taking on the role and should have been booked. a transgender woman. But other casting choices, like Cate Blanchett or Mara Rooney playing lesbians in the stunning 2015 flick, “Carol,” seem more forgivable. Maybe casting someone to play a character they don’t identify as in their personal life is more acceptable if they’ve been cast by a director, producer, or writer who authentically inhabits that identity.

Who can create queer art and media – and what qualifies as accurate representation? Would a TV series or movie get attention if a starry cishet cast was replaced in an effort to align representation? What if the writers or directors of the series are homosexual, but not the actors?

While it’s progress that openly gay actors are cast in lead roles, weaponized critiques of queerbaiting and appropriation as an excuse to force a teenager or any actor out of the closet aren’t the answer. These conversations have come to a head, and the result is hurting people who should be allowed to make their own decisions about when and how to hang out, if at all.

For thousands of years humans have felt the need to categorize things in the world in order to make sense of them. Young people disrupt this rigid framework with more fluid gender identities and romantic expressions. This makes some people uncomfortable (read: current culture wars targeting trans kids, LGBTQ rights, literature and school policies, among others). But many of these disruptors are also demanding that people like Connor now put on a box with a label slapped on the front – and share it with the world in no time.

Coming out is not a one-time act, or something that stays put, and why should it be? Identities are malleable and many young people are still on their way to finding themselves. What we shouldn’t do is publicly shame someone for disclosing a part of themselves that they may not be ready or willing to share.

With LGBTQ rights under increasing threat in the United States and around the world, coming out involves a whole new assessment of risks and repercussions. There’s only one person who should make this decision, and no, he’s not a Twitter troll.

Note: there is lots of resources available for those who want to learn more about how best to support those who come out as LGBTQ, and for people exploring the strange corners of their own sense of self.



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