For members of the LGBTQ+ community, their sexual orientation or gender is significant to their identity. Due to this importance, it should be up to each individual how they label themselves and how they wish to make their identity public.

Unfortunately, there are several recent examples of famous online figures being pressured to label themselves publicly. For example, Taylor Swift's fans have rumored her to be queer through the use of #Gaylor, despite her never claiming this. These fan groups are theorizing by attempting to find clues in music videos, song promotions and more.

Similarly, Shawn Mendes' fan base has stirred up rumors that he is queer purely because he does not fit their visions of traditional masculinity. However, he has repeatedly announced that he is heterosexual.

In 2022, "Heartstopper" actor Kit Connor announced online that he was bisexual after receiving continuous pressure. In "Heartstopper," the character he portrays is bisexual. However, in real life, social media users theorized about his sexual orientation and demanded that he publicly label himself.

Ironically, one of the main messages in "Heartstopper" is that "coming out" should be done on the individual's terms, if at all. People should not be forced or coerced into coming out and should only do so when they feel ready. Being openly queer or transgender can be dangerous for some and frightening for most.

Moreover, sexual orientation is personal for people. It can be a core aspect of someone's identity and create a sense of community between people. Additionally, some prefer to remain unlabeled for privacy or because that is what they feel best suits their identity.

keep out closet graphic

Illustration of a closed door with a sign reading "keep out"

In the case of public figures such as Kit Connor, they still deserve their privacy, especially considering how large their following is. While representation in media is crucial, fans are often motivated by gossip to push celebrities to "come out." Famous individuals still deserve the right to express their identity how they wish.

Generally speaking, assumptions regarding someone's sexual orientation should not be made. In particular, generalizations should not be used to categorize people based on traditional ideas of femininity or masculinity. Instead, as a society, people should unite to reduce judgments and generalizations to become more accepting.

Each person should be able to choose how they label themselves or how they want to make their identity known. At its core, someone's sexual orientation is defined by what gender or genders they are attracted to, not other things such as fashion. Therefore, it is not up to anyone other than the individual to determine their identity.