Doctor Who star Ncuti Gatwa has never publicly disclosed his sexuality – so stop assuming he’s gay

Ncuti Gatwa attends the British Academy Scotland Awards in Glasgow

Ncuti Gatwa has made a name for himself by starring in an iconic LGBTQ+ role, but following comments that he’s become Doctor Who‘s “first gay Doctor”, it’s time to clear up any confusion over the actor’s sexuality. 

Gatwa, 30, first found fame playing gay student Eric Effiong on Netflix’s Sex Education – a role which he sadly announced on Wednesday, 8 February that he would be leaving after series four – before being announced as the new Doctor, the first Black actor to play the role on screen.

Speaking on Variety’s podcast after his casting was announcement in 2022, actor Neil Patrick Harris praised Gatwa, saying it is “super cool” that the Rwandan-Scottish actor will be the “first gay Doctor”. 

It is unclear whether Harris was describing the sexuality of Gatwa himself or his character, however many fans have been embracing the actor as LGBTQ+ since. 

While it’s easy to see from his moving portrayal of Effiong where his fans have thought Gatwa is gay in real life, he has actually never publicly discussed his sexuality. 

Here’s what Gatwa has to say about the roles he has played, and his thoughts on representing marginalised communities with his work. 

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What has Ncuti Gatwa said about the LGBTQ+ roles he has played?

Ncuti Gatwa has praised his character on Sex Education and the positivity of playing a gay, Black student multiple times, adding that he hopes to inspire other young Black men and boys with his role.

Speaking to IndieWire about Sex Education, he said: “It’s really nice to have a gay character, a Black character, be at the forefront of this story on a show like this, that has the reach it does on Netflix.”

He added: “It matters, I hope, that other little Black boys around the world can be like – ‘oh, Eric is like this, and it’s cool.’ It’s important that we allow different people to occupy these spaces.

“Eric is a driving force in his own story as well, which I’m really proud of.”

He added that diversity in TV and film is not about “ticking boxes”, but evening the playing field.

“When we do that, we can show other people’s lives and other people’s experiences and show like – ‘see? It’s not that scary!” Gatwa said.

“Sometimes you do need to be like – ‘has this voice been heard? No’.”

Gatwa’s casting on Doctor Who, along with the news that Russell T Davies will be leading the new era of the show, has been praised by queer fans, who are excited to see him in action. 

Although Gatwa has not mentioned if his portrayal will explore the Doctor’s sexuality, he has made it clear that the show means a lot to “marginalised people”

He told Deadline: “The role is so deep in British culture and the fabric of Britishness that as a Rwandan immigrant to the country, it just feels really powerful.

“[Doctor Who] matters for people of colour, for marginalised people, who really gravitate towards the show because it’s about friendship and it’s about adventure, and it’s about union and unity.

“The Doctor is able to turn into anything or anyone, so the possibilities are endless.”

The danger of assuming celebrities’ sexualities 

While LGBTQ+ TV-lovers have embraced Gatwa due to his role as a gay student in Sex Education, it’s important that people know not to push celebrities when it comes to their sexuality, with Heartstopper’s Kit Connor claiming he was “forced” to come out of the closet in 2022 following fan speculation.

Connor shot to fame in Netflix’s queer teen show Heartstopper as bisexual student Nick Nelson.

The actor briefly quit Twitter after a video of him holding hands with a female actor led him to be accused of “queerbaiting” – a term usually applied to TV shows that tease LGBTQ+ content but don’t deliver, rather than actual people. 

He then tweeted that he had been “forced” to come out as bisexual at just 18.

Writer Mark Harris said after the incident that “no actor should be forced into this position”.

He added: “When it’s done by a fandom that pretends to be righteous about whether someone should be allowed to play a role or talk in certain terms, it is no less toxic.”

In Gatwa’s case, though he has played LGBTQ+ roles impeccably in the past, it’s not up to fans to speculate on what that means for the actor’s sexuality in real life. Whether Ncuti Gatwa’s Dcotor will be gay on screen remains to be seen, but until the actor himself discusses his sexuality, he cannot be called ‘the first gay Doctor’.

Instead, fans should focus on Gatwa’s blossoming acting career, and look forward to the star appearing in both Doctor Who and series four of Sex Education this year!