Fans slam cruel ‘Millie Bobby Brown is homophobic’ meme as Stranger Things’ Noah Schnapp comes out

Stranger Things stars Millie Bobby Brown (left) and Noah Schnapp

Stranger Things star Noah Schnapp coming out as gay on TikTok has been met with a tidal wave of online positivity – but sadly it has meant that the hurtful and false ‘Millie Bobby Brown is homophobic’ meme is rearing its head once again.

18-year-old Schnapp, who plays gay high school student Will Byers in Netflix’s smash-hit sci-fi series, came out publicly in a TikTok lipsync video on Thursday (5 January) that was accompanied by the caption: “I guess I’m more similar to Will than I thought.”

As the internet reacted with understandable excitement to the teenage actor coming out as gay, many viral online posts jokingly implied that Schnapp’s Stranger Things co-star Millie Bobby Brown would not welcome the news.

https://twitter.com/lwtsigns/status/1611125899050491906

These ironic posts are all part of the satirical but sinister ‘Millie Bobby Brown is homophobic’ meme that first began circulating in 2018 and actually led to the actor shutting down her Twitter account.

Of course, Millie Bobby Brown is not homophobic and has in fact been a vocal LGBTQ+ ally since behind propelled to global fame as Eleven on Stranger Things back in 2016. So just what’s going on here?

What is the meme and when did it start?

Joke online posts falsely claiming that Millie Bobby Brown was homophobic first began circulating in late 2017, when the actor was still just 13 years old.

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Designed to be humorous in its absurdity, the meme quickly became dark and uncomfortable as it continued to grow during 2018, with violent imagery such as a video of a car being driven into protestors being accompanied by the caption “Millie Bobby Brown arriving at Pride.”

Meanwhile, doctored images attributed obviously false quotes to the teenage star.

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Many of the original posts were accompanied by the hashtag #TakeDownMillieBobbyBrown, adding a hostile undertone to the meme during a time when the young star was still navigating her first few years in the spotlight.

In 2018, Brown quit Twitter as the viral posts continued to circulate and grow in popularity. The Emmy-nominated star has not returned to the platform since, save for a lone tweet in 2019 that reads “hi. i missed u”.

Millie Bobby Brown is in fact a vocal LGBTQ+ ally

After quitting Twitter, Brown addressed the online harassment while accepting the MTV Movie & TV Award for Best Performance in 2018.

“Since I know there are many young people watching this – and even to the adults, too; they could probably use the reminder – that I was taught that if you don’t have anything nice to say, just don’t say it,” the actress said at the time.

In the years since, Brown has continued to demonstrate her support for the LGBTQ+ community, regularly denouncing bullying and speaking sensitively and supportively about Stranger Things character Will Byers, who fans had speculated was gay before it was later confirmed by actor Noah Schnapp.

“Can I just say, it’s 2022 and we don’t have to label things,” Brown told Variety while discussing speculation about the character’s sexuality.

“I think what’s really nice about Will’s character is that he’s just a human being going through his own personal demons and issues.

“So many kids out there don’t know, and that’s OK. That’s OK to not know. And that’s OK not to label things.”

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Many fans online have also called for an end to the ‘Millie Bobby Brown is homophobic’ meme in the wake of Schnapp himself coming out as gay, with one Twitter user branding the ongoing joke “tired”.

Another wrote: “if you’re using Noah Schnapp’s coming out as an excuse to make weird “jokes” about Millie Bobby Brown then imma need you to log out for me.”

While initially designed to be funny, it’s clear from Brown’s own actions that joke homophobia accusations have taken a mental toll on the teenage star, and in an age of internet misinformation, this is one meme that should definitely be shelved.

Brown is set to reprise her role as Eleven in Stranger Things season 5, which is due to begin filming later this year. A premiere date for the show’s fifth and final outing is yet to be announced.

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