Heartstopper's Joe Locke Officially Comes Out as Gay
British actor Joe Locke came out publicly recently. The Heartstopper lead has long assumed to have been queer, but he’s never acknowledged his sexuality — until now.
Locke, 19, spoke with Teen Vogue, and shared that he’s been out for a while.
“I have been openly gay since I was, like, 12,” Locke explained. “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].”
In the Netflix series Heartstopper, Locke plays Charlie Spring, an out teenager who develops a crush and then a relationship with another boy at his school, Nick Nelson (played by Kit Connor). The first season won praise for its depiction of queer high schoolers and the development and chemistry between Locke’s and Connor’s characters. The show is written by Alice Oseman who also created the graphic novels on which the series is based.
“It’s a weird guilt I sometimes feel that, by association, their [Locke's family’s] lives are affected by choices in my life,” Locke told 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.”
That pressure from the outside world forced Locke’s co-star out of the closet before he was ready. Connor wrote on a post last year that he was bi, then later voiced how criticism of alleged queerbaiting led to him making a public statement about his sexuality.
"I also don’t know if I would have ever done it," Connor told British Vogue recently. "But at the end of the day I don’t regret it. In many ways it was really empowering."
Locke was proud of his co-star for how he handled that situation, he told the magazine. “We were all very proud of him, and we’re proud of him controlling the narrative,” he said. “I’m very proud of him for doing his own thing and what was right for him.”
He added that it also made him appreciate his own boundaries and privacy.
“There’s an idea that it’s part of the job to lose your privacy, that you lose your right to having privacy,” he shared. “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.”
Catch Locke in Heartstopper season 2 now streaming on Netflix. Last November, it was announced that Locke will star in the upcoming WandaVision spin-off Agatha: Coven of Chaos for Marvel Studios and Disney+.