Kit Connor and Joe Locke share the cover of the GQ UK Men of the Year issue. It’s a great interview and the spread is lovely. Kit and Joe are the stars of Netflix’s Heartstoppers. I didn’t realize that nobody expected Heartstoppers to go anywhere, so everyone was caught off guard by its overnight success. Kit has been acting since he was eight. He’s had some big credits too, like a young Elton John in Rocket Man or as Colin Firth and Rachel Weisz’s son in The Mercy. But he led a relatively ‘normal’ life until Heartstoppers. Now he’s being chased down by fans for pictures and autographs and getting invited to things like Paris Fashion Week and film premieres. He’s also seen the ugly side of fame, like his recent brush with social media. The interview was done, at least in part, after Kit came out as bisexual following fans harassing him about queerbaiting. Kit said it was inevitable because if you go looking for it, you’ll always find the bad stuff on social media.
On the instant success of Heartstopper: (It’s) like you’ve just got your licence and you’re suddenly asked to be a getaway driver. There are certain things that you’re asked and expected to do, but you feel so unbelievably unequipped.
On attending his first Paris Fashion Week: It was the first time it felt like a new world. I did not deserve it at all. I felt like a little kid. You’re doing it on a big stage for people to see and you’re just not prepared.
On deleting his Twitter: Social media is not a window into my soul at all… so [it] was the best decision of my life.
On the downside of social media: In many ways it’s great, but as someone who’s in the public eye, if you look for people saying bad stuff about you, you’ll find it. You want to know what people are saying. Everyone wants to be liked, which is slightly heartbreaking when you’re in the position of someone like me or Joe.
Kit’s right about finding what you’re looking for, especially if it’s bad. What’s sad is sometimes you aren’t looking for bad, but you find it anyway. The problem is the bad jumps out so loudly, even in a sea of praise. There’s something about social media that amplifies everything as well. When it turns against you, it feels like a mob all at once and there never seems like enough space to defend yourself. And trying to decipher the trolls from the rational critique – it’s maddening. Especially for a couple of people like Kit and Joe who, like Kit said, just want to be liked.
The GQ interview gave some context for Kit’s experience with the queerbaiting incident. So many kids have held the cast up as role-models. The end of the article is a sweet scene of a fan coming up with a fresh tattoo symbolizing the show. Her mother, a teacher, congratulates the men on giving a voice to so many. Kit said in the interview the show, “was for us and the representation we never had.” So I understand fans wanting to know the honesty of the characters and the actors playing them. But there’s a difference between asking a question and badgering an actor into addressing the matter to the fans’ satisfaction. Kit was robbed the opportunity to come out on his own terms. Again, that’s a lot to take from an 18-year-old whom fans claim to love.
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