Kit Connor’s ‘forced’ coming out proves bi-erasure is rife – even in the LGBTQ+ community

Heartstopper's Kit Connor pictured against an edited background showing the colours of the Bi Pride flag

There was a sense of sadness and frustration when Heartstopper‘s Kit Connor came out as bisexual.

It should have been a moment of celebration, but his revelation that he had effectively been forced out of the closet meant that the reaction was muted.

A minority of Heartstopper fans had been heaping pressure on Kit Connor to come out for months, with speculation about his sexuality reaching a crescendo when he was spotted holding hands with a woman.

Those pictures led some fans to allege that he was actually straight and that his decision to not label his sexuality was a publicity stunt. Some said he was “queerbaiting”, a term that has been stripped of all meaning on social media.

Those kinds of assumptions are “classic bi-erasure”, according to Rob Davey, vice chair of Bi Pride UK.

“It is saddening that Kit has been forced to come out in this manner,” Davey tells PinkNews.

“Everyone should be free to come out on their own terms and at a time of their own choosing, if at all.”

Kit Connor

Kit Connor was forced to come out as bisexual following a series of social media posts. (Getty Images)

Bisexual activist Lewis Oakley says the fiasco shows just how pervasive “problematic attitudes” about bisexuality are, even among other queer people.

“It’s so toxic,” he tells PinkNews.

“Coming out can really make or break your queer identity and being able to come out at the right time and in the right way for you is everything.”

He questions why so many people still assume a person is straight if they’re dating somebody of a different gender – those assumptions are common, and they only serve to erase bi identities.

“LGBT people should know better, especially when talking about [Heartstopper] a show that explores these issues,” he says.

Davey hopes Connor’s coming out will encourage those who hounded him to take stock and reflect on the way they’ve behaved – particularly those who suggested he wasn’t really queer when he was seen holding hands with a woman.

“I would suggest that anyone who has been thinking this way should reflect on their own biphobia and the impact it can have on people like Kit,” he says.

“No one is defined by their current relationship and people in relationships with people of different genders to their own are just as bi as those in similar gender relationships.”

While Connor’s coming out was obviously fraught, it’s not all bad – Davey points out that younger bi people will now have a new role model they can look up to.

But, Davey adds: “It would have been great if fans had let Kit’s performance as Nick Nelson provide the role model they were looking for rather than forcing him out of the closet before he was ready.”

And as Oakley points out, become such a high-profile role model comes with its own pressure to become an advocate – a role Connor might not necessarily want to take on.

“That’s so much pressure and I would worry about his mental health in that,” he says.

“When there are bi issues people are going to expect him to comment… That’s quite hard when you didn’t want to come out in the first place.”