‘Heartstopper’ star Joe Locke comes out as gay

Joe Locke (center) with his "Heartstopper" co-star Kit Connor (left) at the Capital Pride Parade in Washington, DC.
Joe Locke (center) with his “Heartstopper” co-star Kit Connor (left) at the Capital Pride Parade in Washington, DC.

Joe Locke, one of the stars of “Heartstopperon Netflix, came out as gay in an interview with Teen Vogue. 

Locke, 19, said he has been out since he was about 12 years old, but has not felt the need to come forward publicly with it.

“People have assumed and written it, [but] I haven’t ever corrected anyone because I haven’t felt the need to — I’ve never specifically stated my sexuality [until now],” he said. 

Locke, who plays an out gay character, Charlie Spring, in the show, explained what was truly important to him — with all the fame and public attention that comes with stardom — was privacy, which he and his co-stars feel is difficult to come by now. He explained how it has affected his family’s lives too.

“It’s a weird guilt I sometimes feel that, by association, their lives are affected by choices in my life,” Locke said to Teen Vogue. “It’s a mutual thing. I need to learn my boundaries and people need to learn theirs. Most attention comes from a really good place, and I hope I always appreciate that.”

However, these boundaries have been pushed in the past, specifically with “Heartstopper” actor Kit Connor, who came out as bisexual last year on social media as a response to the public accusing him of queerbaiting, which is when artists, characters, and other public figures purposely remain ambiguous on their sexuality, or pretend to be queer, in order to garner more attention from fans, and particularly queer fans.

Seeing his co-star’s experience made Locke appreciate his own privacy and boundaries, which he was able to maintain much more easily. He believes that this attitude of boundary-pushing and needing to be “in the know” of a celebrity’s life is changing or likely to change. 

“There’s an idea that it’s part of the job to lose your privacy, that you lose your right to having privacy,” he said. “That’s something I hope the next generation of people in the public eye can change — I think people are understanding that privacy is non-negotiable.”

The second season of “Heartstopper” is now streaming on Netflix, so readers can find Locke and Connor, or Charlie and Nick, continuing their journey in exploring queerness in adolescence.