‘Heartstopper’: Joe Locke Says Netflix Series Tells an LGBTQ Story Through an ‘Optimistic Lens’

Fans will fall in love with the heartwarming yet realistic LGBTQ story told in Netflix’s Heartstopper. In the British series, a year 10 student named Charlie Spring has been openly gay for some time but still gets caught up in hardships. When he sits next to rugby player Nick Nelson, Charlie feels butterflies, delving into newfound feelings. Actor Joe Locke says Heartstopper tells an LGBTQ story with a hopeful and shining message.

[Warning: This article contains mild spoilers for Heartstopper.]

Joe Locke for 'Heartstopper' series wearing denim jacket.
Joe Locke for ‘Heartstopper’ Netflix series | via Netflix

Charlie Spring is clear about his sexuality but others are not so sure in ‘Heartstopper’

Fans instantly gravitate toward Charlie (Locke) for his sweet smile, kindness, and lovable demeanor in Heartstopper. The series begins by showing fans the darker side of what it means to be openly gay or for those who are unwilling to accept someone’s sexuality. Charlie has been open about his sexuality at school since last year but was also bullied.

He is in a “relationship” with another male student named Ben (Sebastian Croft). The problem is that Ben keeps their meetings and relationship a secret. Everyone agrees that Charlie deserves better, and he cuts things off with Ben. What kickstarted Ben to do what was right for himself was starting a friendship with Nick Nelson (Kit Connor).

Nick is the epitome of a macho rugby player to Charlie’s friends and everyone else. But Charlie finds comfort in his kindness and willingness to treat him as his equal. Their friendship turns into a budding romance. But Nick has some trouble figuring out who he is and his sexuality but refuses to treat Charlie poorly.

Netflix’s Heartstopper also delves into another LGBTQ story. Charlie’s friend Elle (Yasmin Finney) recently transferred from their all-boys school to the all-female school. She switched schools after her transition, but she finds some difficulty making friends.

Joe Locke says ‘Heartstopper’ shows LGBTQ fans that they deserve happiness

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In an interview with 1883 Magazine, Locke was asked about The Guardian tagging Heartstopper as “the anti-Euphoria” series. This led Locke to explain the Netflix series shows fans a different side and a more hopeful side to LGBTQ stories.

“It’s good to have the opposite end of the spectrum, which is a show that depicts real things through an optimistic lens. We show bullying, we show the things teenagers face today, but it’s sort of through an optimistic lens. You can always see the light at the end of the tunnel,” explained Locke. “Our show is about knowing that it’s all going to be okay in the end.”

While Heartstopper touches upon the battles Charlie, the main characters, and LGBTQ members face in the world, there is a heartwarming ending. Unlike Euphoria, Heartstopper is lighthearted, easily digestible, and resonating in an everyday life type of way.

Lock says, “I think, especially with queer shows, we have a lot about the bad things that happen to queer people. We do need those shows, but on the other side of the spectrum, we also need the queer shows that depict to younger kids that they deserve happiness. You deserve love. You deserve all these great things that are going to happen to you.”

Kit Connor and Joe Locke discuss diversity in ‘Heartstopper’

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When it comes to LGBTQ stories, many series have tried to look at the bigger picture of reality by having a diverse and inclusive cast. In an interview with Attitude Magazine, Connor explains social media has helped expand representation, but “there are never enough, you know, queer sort of stories being shown on screen.”

Connor praises his co-star Yaz and says, “there just aren’t enough trans actors or actresses on screen in media at the moment, and that’s something hopefully the show will prove to everyone Yaz gives an incredible performance in the show.”

When discussing diversity and Heartstopper, Locke says, “There comes a stage where people start talking about diversity for the sake of diversity. I don’t think that is a fair argument for any situation. I think our show is an example of how that isn’t a fair thing for people to say because the amount of talent and reality that comes from having a diverse cast and everyone from different walks of life adds an element of almost truth to the story.”

Fans can watch Locke, Connor and the rest of the cast take on their graphic novel-based characters and story in Heartstopper on Netflix.

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