Locke stars in Netflix’s secondary school teen drama as Charlie, a gay student, while Connor plays rugby player Nick, who later learns he is bisexual.
The show had been celebrated for casting queer actors in its roles, but Connor had made it clear on social media and in interviews he wasn’t comfortable talking about his own sexuality.
However, days after fans had suggested he was “queerbaiting” after photos emerged of him holding hands with his A Cuban Girl’s Guide to Tea and Tomorrow co-star Maia Reficco, Connor tweeted on Tuesday (1 November) that he was bisexual.
“Back for a minute. I’m bi,” he wrote. “Congrats for forcing an 18-year-old to out himself. I think some of you missed the point of the show. Bye.”
In a response that has been retweeted more than 5,000 times, Locke, who plays his on-screen love interest Charlie, offered his support to Connor.
“You owe nothing to anyone,” Locke wrote. “I’m so proud of you my friend.”
Watch: Heartstopper Season 2 teaser
You owe nothing to anyone. I’m so proud of you my friend 💕
— Joe Locke (@joelocke03) November 1, 2022
Following Connor’s tweets, many fans had shared their horror that the young actor had been pressured into disclosing his sexuality before he was ready.
“I truly don’t understand how people can watch Heartstopper and then gleefully spend their time speculating about sexualities and judging based on stereotypes,” Alice Oseman, who created the graphic novels the show is based on, wrote. “I hope all those people are embarrassed as f***. Kit you are amazing.”
Kizzy Edgell, who plays Darcy in the streaming series, commented: “I love u Kit. I’m sorry this has been so disgustingly rough on you. Been treated so unfairly.”
When Heartstopper was first released, Connor tweeted: “Twitter is so funny man. Apparently some people on here know my sexuality better than I do…”
In an interview with W Magazine in June, he said: “People can get a bit too comfortable on social media. To speculate about a person’s sexuality is so dangerous, especially for someone at my age of 18, it’s a bit strange for me to see.
“If I haven’t said anything, you shouldn’t assume anything, but you also shouldn’t pressure me to tell people. It’s a very personal journey that people have to go on.”