Alice Oseman’s Heartstopper adaptation is the show painting many pink, taking an important role in the LGBTQ+ community
The easiest way to bring the Heartstopper show into words is the following: a palette of Taylor Swift’s lyrics mixed with shades of red and blue.
The story follows Charlie – an openly gay teenager – who’s having quite a hard time trying to think straight thanks to his crush on his supposedly heterosexual mate; and Nick – the supposedly straight bro who’s actually trying to figure out what to do about all those feelings for Charlie while having a full-on gay crisis.
But it isn’t just that; it never is. Charlie is not alone – he has his friends Tao, Elle, Isaac, Tara, Darcy, his sister Tori… and no matter what, he has Nick. And not to mention he has a lot to deal with.
It goes on from there: the struggle with trying to discover your sexuality and being okay with it in a place with societal pressure and heteronormativity; the uncertainty that comes along with being who you are and who you want to be with; the trouble with balancing your life; eeeeverything that comes along with being a teenager… just life at its finest.
But how come this show has such a big influence on the LGBTQ+ community when most people have never experienced something like Nick and Charlie’s story? Because it isn’t just about finding the love of your life at fifteen – it’s the path that one builds to be alright with the person you’ve become and are.
Throughout the years, there have always been queer TV shows – most of them starring the stereotypical gay character who’s definitely not an accurate representation, please and thank you. Heartstopper has brought diversity and has shown part of the process of discovering your sexuality and accepting it. Although this show might appear too bright and pink, sharing stories and all the representation have to start somewhere.
Many teenagers are raised in a conservative household, with limited ideas and a closeted mentality; and as they grow older, they also grow blind to all the tools and spectrums when it comes to discovering themselves. With TV shows like Heartstopper, basically available for the whole world and apt for every age, people find the whole process easier, and they don’t feel as alone as they would without it.
But not everything is positive, and here comes the gray of reality: Heartstopper shows people that no matter the century we’re at, homophobia, transphobia, and other types of discrimination are always going to be present. That no matter how happy our relationships with others appear to be, we can always be struggling on the inside; the façade of being alright is just a bubble.
Although there are so many happy aspects in the show, we can never forget the ones that are not: internalized homophobia, eating disorders, the need of being accepted and belonging somewhere, between others.
And that’s why Heartstopper has had such an impact as a TV show/ book. It enables us to hear the cruel cries of reality, but at the same time, we can hear the laughter behind it. It gives us a place in which we can find comfort, explanations, and different views. With shows like these, being part of the LGBTQ+ community could be finally seen – not only in virtual but also real life – as normal. Because that’s what it is: human and normal and beautiful. It’s incredibly important for the LGBTQ+ community to have their stories represented on TV. Film is the art form of our age, and it gives people the chance to see themselves reflected. It’s a way to show that it’s a possibility, to be happy.
Society has seen multiple unnecessary dramas, so why can’t it just end for once and for all? We have ways; we just need to take them. Being gay is alright, being lesbian is completely fine, being transexual is normal, and not knowing who you are is only part of the journey.
If we want to develop as humans we need to get past this. A man loving another man? A woman holding hands with another woman? A person being just a person? A woman being a woman although his genitals are different? It’s completely acceptable and alright and you’re still a human. You’re not less important or valid, and you deserve the same rights as any other person. And it’s time for people stuck in the 1800s to get over it and accept it.
Because you matter, and like our lord and savior Harry Styles said: “Love is love”.
By: Andrea M.