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‘Heartstopper’ star Kit Connor didn’t get to come out the way he wanted to. How does his character fare?

Spoilers ahead for Season Two of "Heartstopper."
/ Source: TODAY

Warning: This story contains spoilers for Season Two of "Heartstopper."

In "Heartstopper," a group of teenagers grow up, fall in love and explore their sexual identities, all on their own terms, and in their own time.

But its stars have not been given the same grace, as Kit Connor's experience of having to "out himself" last year demonstrated.

The show returned to Netflix for its second season Aug. 3, picking up right where Nick (Kit Connor) and Charlie's (Joe Locke) love story left off. Theirs is a cool status-crossing romance that has defined many teen rom-coms of yore: Nick is a rugby-playing jock. Charlie is a nerd.

While Charlie is out, Nick is not — though the end of Season One saw him come out as bisexual to his mom (played by Olivia Colman). So, while less "popular," Charlie has the freedom of being more outwardly himself.

In Season Two, Nick comes out to the world — a process Connor had already done, but not in the way he wanted to, in 2022.

What was Kit Connor's experience with coming out?

"Heartstopper" was a breakout hit when it premiered in 2022. In the wake of its success, attention turned to the stars' personal lives.

In November, a then 18-year-old Connor briefly appeared on Twitter with a message for his fans: “Back for a minute. I’m bi. Congrats for forcing an 18 year old to out himself. I think some of you missed the point of the show. Bye."

Connor didn't specify why he felt like he had to "out himself." The tweet came after photos circulated of him holding hands with Maia Reficco, his co-star in "A Cuban Girl's Guide to Tea and Tomorrow." He also faced allegations of "queerbaiting" from fans, which refers to the practice of performing queerness for attention from the LGBTQ community.

Alice Oseman, the creator of the "Heartstopper" graphic novels and executive producer of the show, rallied around the star in a reply to his tweet.

“I truly don’t understand how people can watch ‘Heartstopper’ and then gleefully spend their time speculating about sexualities and judging based on stereotypes,” Oseman wrote. “I hope all those people are embarrassed as F--. Kit you are amazing.”

In 2023, Connor reflected on his sexual identity in an interview with the New York Times. “For me, it’s just who I am. Coming out didn’t change me," he said.

He said he identifies as queer, like his co-star Locke, saying it's "more freeing in a way, less about labels.”

He also told Vogue UK that he had been figuring out his identity since before "Heartstopper." When he tweeted about his sexuality, it "wasn’t something I was ready to talk about," he said.

"I wasn’t angry. I was just slightly disappointed by this reaction," he said, referring to the online harassment.

He added that "forced" isn't the word he would use to describe what happened.

"I would say that I would have preferred to do it another way,” he said. “I also don’t know if I would have ever done it. But at the end of the day I don’t regret it. In many ways it was really empowering.”

How does Nick come out in 'Heartstopper' Season 2?

Charlie and Nick's main source of tension in Season One of "Heartstopper" is Nick's wish that their relationship remain secret. After experiencing life without Charlie, Nick has the bravery needed to come out to his mom in a much-lauded scene in the season finale.

But in Season Two, there's the issue of the rest of the world. The first episode's title is "Out" — demonstrating what is, so urgently, on their minds.

His first attempt to come out to Imogen, his longtime friend who previously had a crush on him, is botched when she interrupts with, "Is it about you and Charlie?" Embarrassed, she continues, "I should have let you say it. It's just ... it is kind of obvious." When he clarifies that he identifies as bisexual, she gives him a hug.

"I'm sorry, I don't actually know how to react," she says.

"This is, this is good," he says shakily.

From there, he feels pressure to come out before he's "found out," which is what happens with his coach in Episode Three.

"If I don't come out at school, I'm probably going to get found out anyway," he says.

Meanwhile, his coach, who is also a part of the LGBTQ community, reminds Nick he "doesn't owe" his teammates any information.

Connor said that eventually defines the question Nick wrestles with in Season Two: Do you need to come out?

"He’s tackled what seems like the biggest obstacle, telling his mom and telling the people that he loves. And now, suddenly, he realizes that there’s a new topic to tackle. We really get into the nitty-gritty of the morality and the questions around coming out and whether you need to and whether you owe it to anyone. And I think that’s a really interesting conversation to have," Connor told TVLine.

Ultimately, Nick has a different journey than the actor who portrayed him. When he does come out publicly, it's because he wanted to.