If you’ve been online anywhere in the last few months, you would have seen countless mentions, comments and articles about Heartstopper and its incredible LGBTQ+ representation.
Heartstopper, based on Alice Oseman’s graphic novels, premiered on Netflix in April 2022 and since then, it’s honestly been all I can think and talk about.
To see such amazing LGBTQ+ representation aimed specifically at young people has been heartwarming and bittersweet in the best way. I wish I had something like this when I was a teenager trying to figure out my sexuality in school, but I’m so happy that young teens of today get to see this beautiful story on the screen.
At its heart, it’s a love story like any other, and the normalisation of relationships that I grew up thinking were ‘wrong’ is truly incredible.
Now, this article could easily turn into me gushing about how much I love Heartstopper (because I love it a lot), but I specifically want to thank the cast of Heartstopper who marched in the Pride in London parade on 2 July and made headlines for rising above anti-LGBTQ+ protesters.
uhhh I was videoing and screaming at them but please don’t be mistaken, it wasn’t ’Kit Connor and the rest of the cast’, it was @joelocke03 and @SebastianCroft front and centre. Please give them the credit for doing something so powerful. https://t.co/SjvJFCHwKD
— Kit Connor (@kit_connor) July 2, 2022
Pride is so important to me. Since I was 16, I’ve attended every year and the overwhelming amount of love and joy that is exhibited at these events is intoxicating. Luckily, this year, I was able to march in the parade myself and I don’t know if I have the words to describe how overwhelming (in the best way) it was to march alongside my younger sister and see people clap, cheer, smile and celebrate us and the community as a whole as we walked past.
After spending much of my teenager years confused and ashamed of being bisexual, to be fully out and marching in the parade with my bisexual flag wrapped round me was a moment that teenage me never thought I would have. It is truly something I will never forget.
Seeing the LGBTQ+ community band together, especially seeing lots of banners and signs calling for trans allyship in solidarity together, was truly special. Pride is a time for our community to get together and say, ‘We’re here, we support each other and we will not be silent about the inequalities we face.’
And that’s where the Heartstopper cast comes in.
Firstly, seeing the cast marching in the parade with their Pride flags was so great – you can see from all the photos and videos of them that they are so happy and grateful to be there.
As a massive fan of the show (did I mention that already?), it was very affirming to see them support the LGBTQ+ community. It was like they had stood up and personally said to me, ‘Becca – it’s okay to be bisexual and we love you for it.’
Seeing people who you idolise celebrating your community is a very special thing and it definitely meant a lot to me. It’s even more amazing when you think about all the teens who’ve been looking at them and seeing that being LGBTQ+ was something to be celebrated. Whether you’re LGBTQ+ or not, that’s an amazing thing to see.
And not only that, but to see them not be deterred in the face of anti-LGBTQ+ protesters was such an important moment.
The cast knew that eyes would be on them during the day, and they used that opportunity to stand up for our community in the best way possible. To see the cast of a show I love deeply, jump around and continue celebrating and uplifting our wonderful LGBTQ+ community was really inspiring.
They reminded me that we can be who we are and that we absolutely should not have to deal with things like this just for being LGBTQ+. They also showed us that you should never let anyone stop you from being yourself.
Pride is a celebration, but it is first and foremost a protest, and I think the cast captured that beautifully by not being deterred by the anti-LGBTQ+ protesters. It was like they were inadvertently saying, ‘The community does not deserve this and we will keep existing, celebrating and loving despite the hatred and negativity we face.’
That moment reminded me why Pride is so important. There are still so many inequalities and discrimination we face just for being LGBTQ+, and Pride gives us a chance to stand up and say why this is wrong.
So thank you to the Heartstopper cast, for not only being a part of an incredible show that’s brought me so much joy, but for standing up for our community and reminding us what Pride is all about.
Rebecca volunteers with Just Like Us, the LGBT+ young people’s charity. Sign up now to volunteer!