Earlier this fall, Heartstopper‘s Kit Connor made headlines when he came out as bisexual.
But this was no triumphant moment of a young star stepping into their power—instead, Connor was defeated. In the 18-year old’s own words, he was forced out of the closet by “fans” who had lobbed queerbaiting allegations at him for playing a queer character while not openly identifying as such himself.
“I think some of you missed the point of the show,” he wrote before (presumably) quitting Twitter for good.
Sadly, Connor is far from the only star this has happened to, joining a long line of celebrities dragged out of the closet by the public, all but stripping them of their agency.
One such star is the internet’s boyfriend, Lee Pace, who recently shared his support for Connor, and had some choice words for the media and so-called fans who demand public figures come out.
In a conversation with Vulture, Pace expressed his adoration for Heartstopper, and decried the “Tower Of Babel” situation around the young star’s sexuality:
“I look at [Connor] and he’s so great in the show,” said Pace, “And all I think is, ‘I want to see what else you do. I want to see all of the people you inhabit in your career.'”
“I actually don’t care about anything else. I don’t want to know it; it’s none of my business anyway. I’d rather take your word for it than some kind of hot take on it, you know? He’ll choose to reveal himself in the work he does, in the way he interprets characters, in the way he chooses the characters he wants to play.”
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Of course, Pace can relate to what Connor’s gone through on some level. While he came out on a public level in a 2018 New York Times profile, that piece followed a W Magazine feature a few months earlier, in which the actor was taken aback by an “intrusive” question about his sexuality. And that was only after a few years of rumors, spurred on by an unwitting outing by his The Hobbit co-star Ian McKellen.
When Vulture asked him about his coming out—which was during his run in Angels In America—Pace responded that he never thought he was “in” to begin with.
“I never felt like that was a choice I made,” he continued. “But the media has a way of talking about things. I feel strongly, and did then as I do now, that I reserve my right to contain multitudes, and I would wish the same for all other actors. I reserve my right to explore all the different facets of humanity through my work and in my life.”
In that four-year old W Magazine piece (the one where he was directly asked about his sexuality) Pace did say that he felt it was important for gay actors to play gay roles. But, since then, he’s come to realize—just as many of us have—that things aren’t so black-and-white, and that we can’t always hold everyone and everything to such rigid labels.
By the way, did anyone else squeal with glee when they learned Lee Pace was a fan of Heartstopper?