Coming to Self Acceptance

Heartstopper is a British television show on Netflix that centers around two British boys and their love story as well as the experiences of growing up Queer. Nick and Charlie, along with their friends, represent many different aspects of growing up in general along with growing up as LGBTQ+. The show specifically emphasizes self-love and acceptance along with taking the time to discover yourself. One of our main characters, Nick comes to acceptance of his sexuality throughout the show as we see his and Charlie’s relationship progress. Part of why Nick’s story is so impactful is the space that he’s fortunately been given to discover himself. Charlie, despite finding it difficult to hide their relationship at school, respects Nick and allows him to take his time, and does not pressure him. Nick’s mom allows him to comfortably come out to her by not rushing him or jumping assumptions. She treats him with love and support and accepts him like he is. Nick’s story is one of many storylines in the show that revolve around self-acceptance during the stages of growing up. Overall, this show places much emphasis on the importance of self-acceptance along with finding confidence in expressing yourself.

In this way, Heartstopper is similar to all the works we have read in class. They all grapple with self-acceptance regarding sexuality and creating space for themselves. It should be noted that while it holds similar themes, Heartstopper does contain more hopeful content than the other media we have read in class, but regardless it does still cover the theme of self love and acceptance like the readings of this class. For example, Saedee Jones covers his journey of coming to acceptance of his gender expression and his identity as a Gay Black man despite biases and discrimination. The specific issues each author grapples with both differ and intersect due to different intersectional identities and histories, but general themes stay the same. The authors and the show aim to reclaim their stories and experiences and to show their journeys to self-love to help others like them not to feel alone. They also give voice to many experiences and bring representation into the media space. By doing so, they validate the experiences of the unheard and motivate others like them to accept their identity and feel comfortable speaking on them in media spaces.

2 thoughts on “Coming to Self Acceptance”

  1. I think you make a good point about intersectional identities. As Eli Clare talks about, our identities are not made up one thing. This is something important to consider when it comes to media. Too often, media is not representative of the wider population, an oversight which can affect the underrepresented in a significant way. I think of the story in Growing Up Gay Growing Up Lesbian where an Asian man found himself trying to emulate white gay stereotypes because he not only felt uncomfortable with himself as an Asian, but himself as an Asian gay man. When approaching the creation of queer media, representation feels like a particularly pertinent issue. As we enter a time where queer media is more available and created than ever before, we must also make sure that we are not only representing white queer people. Queer people do know what it feels like to be excluded and the toll it takes, so I hope our media can become a safe place for not only white queer people, but queer people of color, and queer people of different cultures. I really enjoyed Heartstopper and Auntie Po for this reason.

  2. I really like the connection you made between the show Heartstopper and self-acceptance especially regarding queerness. I believe you point out an important factor by explaining how queer people need a safe space in which they are not being pressured and can find out about their sexuality and identity in their own pace. That aspect always reminds me of Jones poems which have been about other queer people’s experiences and over time he came to terms with his sexuality and identity, using his own experiences for his literature instead of others.

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