Heartstopper is normalizing queer relationships

As the world becomes more accepting of the LGBTQ community, movies and TV shows are rushing to include queer couples to prove themselves as allies and appeal to a wider audience. Many homosexual and transgender characters serve the sole purpose of adding representation to the media, and do not realistically add any support to LGBTQ viewers. Heartstopper, Netflix’s newest series written by queer author Alice Oseman, aims to change this stigma and portray queer relationships as holding the same passion and excitement as heterosexual partnerships.

Unlike other LGBTQ-focused media, Heartstopper does not revolve around one character’s journey to discover their identity. Joe Locke plays Charlie Spring, a shy and openly-gay teenage boy who meets upperclassman rugby star Nick Nelson, portrayed by Kit Connor, in their shared homeroom class at the start of the new semester. The show follows the boys as they become fast friends turned couple in a typical jock-has-a-soft-spot-for-one-boy fashion. 

Although cliche, this example is exactly what queer teens need–a heartwarming story about characters they can relate to falling in love. Teenagers grow up believing that being LGBTQ  has to be a big deal, but Oseman’s story focuses instead on how beautifully ordinary it is to love whomever one wants. Even though the boys face occasional backlash from their peers, the sweetness of the tale proves to the audience that a relationship with that much love and passion deserves to be fought for.

Unlike other LGBTQ-focused media, Heartstopper does not revolve around one character’s journey to discover their identity.”

The show also includes a lesbian couple, which opens another gate for teenagers looking to find proper representation in the media. Both characters are at different stages of figuring out their identities, but manage to celebrate their love for each other despite the consequences it may hold. This is so important for young girls who are unsure of their identities because it teaches them that loving a woman can be just as fulfilling as loving anyone else. Because lesbian culture is so often sexualized, it is important for youth to picture a real happy, healthy relationship. 

Young transgender teenager Elle Blank also makes an appearance in the show, played by similarly orientated Yasmin Finney. None of her friends make her recent transition a big deal, and her new identity is easily accepted as the new normal. By normalizing the acceptance of new gender identities, questioning youth are encouraged to feel comfortable with discovering themselves as well. 

All in all, the show describes a heartwarming and relatable story between teenagers; it is only an added bonus that they are part of the LGBTQ community. Heartstopper proves that queer relationships do not have to be strange or odd, as many heterosexual cisgender individuals may think. They are just ordinary people doing ordinary things, meanwhile setting an example for millions of teens around the world hoping they can do the same.