arrow to right
arrow to right
arrow to right

Unraveling the Rainbow: A Comprehensive Breakdown of LGBTQIA+ Messages in Heartstopper Season Two

August 11, 2023



Welcome to the world of Heartstopper, a groundbreaking Netflix series that has captured the hearts of viewers around the globe. With its charming narrative and authentic representation, Heartstopper stands as a beacon of inclusivity and diversity within the realm of television.

Based on Alice Oseman's webcomics, Heartstopper masterfully weaves together stories of queer love, identity, friendship, and mental health among British teenagers. The series follows the journey of high school students Charlie Spring (Joe Locke) and Nick Nelson (Kit Connor), whose romantic relationship forms the heart of this compelling narrative.

Season two of Heartstopper continues this exploration, diving deeper into the experiences of the LGBTQIA+ community. From tackling issues like bullying and bigotry to navigating the complexities of coming out and self-acceptance, the show offers viewers an intimate look at the struggles and triumphs that shape the lives of its characters.

As we embark on this analysis of LGBTQIA+ messages in Heartstopper Season Two, be warned: there will be spoilers ahead. Whether you're already a fan of the show or new to the world of Charlie and Nick, we invite you to join us in celebrating this remarkable series and the important conversations it sparks.

So, without further ado, let's delve into the vibrant and heart-stopping world of Heartstopper Season Two.

From Webcomic to Global Phenomenon

Heartstopper, which is now a popular Netflix series, has an interesting history that began in the world of webcomics. The series was first conceptualized and brought to life by British author Alice Oseman. At the age of 22, Oseman started writing and illustrating Heartstopper as a webcomic. It was a passion project for the young writer, who had already begun to make a name for herself in the literary world.

Originally published on Tumblr and Tapas, Heartstopper quickly amassed an enormous online fanbase with over 52.1 million views to date. The story, centered around Charlie Spring, an openly gay teenager attending an all-boys grammar school, resonated deeply with readers worldwide.

In January 2017, a year after its initial publication online, physical copies of the Heartstopper story were released. This move allowed the series to reach an even broader audience and solidified its status as a beloved piece of LGBTQIA+ literature.

Oseman's work didn't stop there. Heartstopper continued to update three times a month on platforms like Tumblr, Webtoon, and Tapas. The series explores themes of love, identity, and mental health, following the journey of Charlie and his boyfriend as they navigate their way through a new relationship and grapple with the realities of mental illness.

The immense success and popularity of the webcomic eventually led to its adaptation into a television series by Netflix. This faithful adaptation tells a heartwarming boy-meets-boy tale through live action, further expanding the reach of Heartstopper and introducing its poignant narrative to an entirely new audience.

Today, viewers can watch the Heartstopper series on Netflix, while fans of the original webcomic can continue to follow Charlie and Nick's journey on Tumblr, Webtoon, and Tapas.

Alice Oseman's Heartstopper serves as a testament to the power of storytelling and the impact of diverse representation in media. From a humble webcomic on Tumblr to a globally recognized Netflix series, Heartstopper continues to touch hearts and inspire conversations about love, acceptance, and identity.

Character Analysis and Representation

In the groundbreaking Netflix series Heartstopper, a diverse tapestry of characters each play their part in painting a rich and authentic picture of the LGBTQIA+ community. These characters, brought to life by a talented cast, navigate the complexities of identity, acceptance, love and friendship against the backdrop of contemporary adolescence. From openly gay Charlie Spring grappling with past trauma, to the rugby-loving Nick Nelson discovering his sexuality, the series offers a nuanced exploration of the LGBTQIA+ narrative. This character analysis provides a brief overview of the unique journeys of these individuals, highlighting the power of representation in the media landscape.

  • Charlie Spring (Joe Locke): Charlie is an openly gay character who navigates the complexities of adolescence while dealing with past trauma. Joe Locke, who is also gay in real life, brings depth to this character, showcasing the struggle and resilience that many young gay people experience.

  • Nick Nelson (Kit Connor): Nick is a rugby-loving lad who grapples with his sexuality throughout the series. Kit Connor's portrayal of Nick provides a nuanced depiction of the confusion and fear associated with coming out, making him a relatable character for many viewers.

  • Elle Argent (Yasmin Finney): As one of Charlie's closest friends, Elle Argent, played by Yasmin Finney, is a transgender woman. Her character lends visibility to transgender individuals, offering a storyline that emphasizes acceptance and courage.

  • Tao Xu (William Gao): William Gao's character, Tao Xu, stands up against bullying and serves as an ally to the LGBTQIA+ community within the narrative. He brings to light the importance of support from friends and eventually boyfriend of Elle when navigating personal struggles.

  • Isaac Henderson (Tobie Donovan): Isaac Henderson, played by Tobie Donovan, is a character who initially struggles with prejudice but eventually comes to terms with his ace identity in season two. His character arc demonstrates the potential for change, growth, and self realization.

  • Tara Jones (Corinna Brown): Tara is portrayed as a young lesbian woman navigating her relationship with Darcy Olsson. Corinna Brown brings authenticity to Tara's character as she grapples with societal implications of coming out. Her journey illuminates the challenges faced by many young lesbians, contributing to a more comprehensive portrayal of the LGBTQIA+ community.
  • Darcy Olsson (Kizzy Edkins): Tara's girlfriend Darcy, played by Kizzy Edkins, is another significant LGBTQIA+ character. Together, Tara and Darcy's storyline offers an insightful look at the dynamics of a young lesbian relationship, shedding light on both the struggles and the joys they experience. She brings to light the painful journey of not having a supportive home.
  • Mr. Ajayi (Fisayo Akinade): Although less is known about Mr. Ajayi's personal life, his character, played by Fisayo Akinade, serves as a supportive adult figure within the school environment. An out gay man himself, his presence underscores the importance of allyship and understanding in fostering an inclusive atmosphere for LGBTQIA+ youth within school.
  • Mr. Farouk (Nima Taleghani): Like Mr. Ajayi, Mr. Farouk, portrayed by Nima Taleghani, acts as another supportive figure in the school setting. Although humorous moments are often associated with his character, he plays a crucial role in establishing a safe space for the students. Revealing a further purpose in season two, his representation of an LGBTQIA+ adult struggling with identity bring forward further conversation.

A Mirror of lg(B)tqia+ Realities

In 'Heartstopper' season two, Nick Nelson's journey into his bisexual identity is filled with relatable and poignant moments that resonate deeply with the LGBTQIA+ and, more specifically, the Bi+ community.

One of the most powerful scenes occurs when Nick fears being outed before he's ready. During a school trip, he and Charlie share an intimate moment, unaware that they're being watched. The dread of having his secret exposed to his peers, without his consent, is palpable. This scenario mirrors the anxiety many LGBTQIA+ individuals feel about their own coming out stories, where the fear of judgment and rejection can be overwhelming.

Another significant part of Nick's journey involves confronting bullying from his older brother, David. David’s derogatory comments and dismissive attitudes towards Nick's sexuality provide a stark portrayal of the familial rejection that some queer individuals face. This storyline serves as a reminder of the damaging effects of homophobia and bigotry, even when it comes from those we consider family.

Nick's struggle with stereotypes is another key aspect of his character arc. He is constantly battling misconceptions about bisexuality, both from his friends and others around him. One such incident happens when his friend Tao labels him as gay after learning about his relationship with Charlie. Nick corrects him, stating he's bisexual, not gay. This scene highlights the frequent mislabeling and misunderstanding that the Bi+ community faces, as well as the importance of respecting each individual's self-identified labels.

Lastly, Nick faces judgment from various sources, including peers who make assumptions about his character based on his sexuality. An instance of this is when his rugby teammates question his athletic abilities upon discovering his bisexuality, a stereotype often levied against LGBTQIA+ individuals in sports. Through these experiences, Heartstopper underscores the prejudice that LGBTQIA+ people often encounter while also emphasizing resilience and self-acceptance.

Exploring Asexuality

Isaac's journey to self-acceptance as an asexual individual is a significant narrative thread in Heartstopper season two. It's a powerful exploration of identity and acceptance, shedding light on asexuality - a sexual orientation often overlooked or misunderstood.

Isaac's storyline begins with him experiencing feelings of confusion and isolation. He struggles to understand why he doesn't experience sexual attraction like his peers. His journey is marked by introspection and self-discovery, as he tries to find a label that accurately describes his experiences.

In one poignant scene, Isaac stumbles upon the term 'asexual' online. The moment is pivotal, offering him a sense of identification and validation. It's a turning point, as he starts to understand that his lack of sexual attraction is not an anomaly, but a valid and recognized sexual orientation.

As the season progresses, we see Isaac gradually accepting his asexuality. His journey sends a potent message about self-acceptance, acknowledging one's unique identity, and the importance of representation.

Isaac's character also highlights the significance of the internet as a resource for LGBTQIA+ individuals. For many, like Isaac, the internet provides a platform to learn about different sexual orientations, discover supportive communities, and ultimately, understand and accept their identities.

His story is an important milestone for the representation of the ace community in mainstream media, and it sends a strong message to viewers about embracing and accepting one's identity.

Symbolism and Inclusivity in Education

Season two of Netflix's Heartstopper introduces viewers to more nuanced elements of LGBTQIA+ representation, one of which is the pride pin worn by Mr. Ajayi, played by Fisayo Akinade. This small yet significant accessory symbolizes much more than meets the eye. It is a beacon of inclusion and acceptance in the school environment, subtly communicating to students like Charlie that they are seen, understood, and supported.

Mr. Ajayi's pride pin serves as a constant reminder of the importance of inclusion in schools. It signifies that the school is a safe space for all students, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity. This inclusive environment can be translated into classrooms worldwide, reinforcing the idea that every student deserves to feel accepted and valued for who they are.

For struggling students like Charlie, seeing a queer adult like Mr. Ajayi openly display his identity can be empowering. It provides representation and affirmation, which are crucial for LGBTQIA+ youth. According to The Trevor Project, these young individuals have high rates of suicide, often due to feelings of isolation and lack of acceptance. Thus, visible support from teachers and other authority figures can be life-saving.

The symbolization of Mr. Ajayi's pride pin emphasizes how seemingly small gestures can carry enormous weight. It's a testament to the power of visibility and affirmation, demonstrating that even the smallest nod to inclusivity can make a substantial difference in the lives of LGBTQIA+ individuals.

Promoting Inclusivity in Sports

The role of supportive educators and coaches in sports is vital and can have a significant impact on the lives of young athletes, particularly those from the LGBTQIA+ community. As highlighted in Heartstopper season two, sports environments can sometimes be less than accepting.

In one poignant scene, Nick and Charlie are discovered kissing by their rugby coach, Coach Singh. Instead of reacting negatively, the coach consoles them, offering a glimmer of acceptance in an otherwise challenging situation. Coach Singh hints at her struggle finding acceptance in sports with her identity. This brief interaction hints at how much work still needs to be done to make sports a safe and inclusive space for all.

Sports should indeed be for everyone. They provide a platform for physical, social, and psychological development, and this should not be any different for LGBTQIA+ youth. Coaches and educators play a crucial role in this process. They can foster team cultures that support athlete mental health, encourage care-seeking, and help athletes navigate their identities.

However, it's important to acknowledge that the competitive nature of sports can sometimes lead to toxicity. This competitiveness can breed homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia, creating hostile environments for LGBTQIA+ athletes. Coaches and educators must strive to balance competitiveness with inclusivity, ensuring that all athletes can participate without fear of discrimination or harassment.

The depiction of sports in Heartstopper season two serves as yet another reminder of the challenges LGBTQIA+ individuals face. However, it also underscores the potential of sports as a platform for acceptance and growth, provided there is a presence of supportive educators and coaches.

The Silent Struggle

In Heartstopper season two, Charlie's silent struggle with bullying has profound implications, mirroring the real-life experiences of many LGBTQIA+ youth. His reluctance to talk about his bullying experiences potentially leads to self-harm, as suggested by his emerging eating disorder.

The 2014 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance (YRBS) report highlights that lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) students are at a significantly higher risk for experiences such as bullying, violence, and suicide attempts compared to their heterosexual peers. It underscores the damaging effects of bullying, which can lead to severe mental health issues, lower academic performance, and even suicide.

Charlie's situation is emblematic of society's tendency to downplay the severity of bullying. We are often taught to ignore or brush off bullying as a normal part of growing up, but in reality, it can eat away at us from within, as seen in Charlie's behavior. His silence about his trauma could mean bigger consequences, or it might be too painful to relive the past, as Nick tries to get him to open up in his bedroom.

Charlie's experiences in Heartstopper season two shed light on the critical need for open conversations around bullying, especially within the LGBTQIA+ community. It serves as a stark reminder that ignoring or brushing off such experiences can have serious, long-term consequences.

Late Coming Out

The narrative of Mr. Youssef Farouk, played by British actor Nima Taleghani, brings to light the complexities and struggles faced by many in the LGBTQIA+ community within Heartstoppers season two. His late coming out is portrayed as a painful process, marked by a sense of loss for the youthful moments he couldn't fully experience due to his struggle with identity.

A pivotal scene near the vending machine, where Mr. Farouk converses with Mr. Ajayi, encapsulates the pain and confusion that can accompany the process of discovering one's identity. His words reflect the internal turmoil experienced by many who feel they must suppress their true selves due to societal expectations and fear of rejection.

As the season progresses, we see Mr. Farouk grappling with self-acceptance. He experiences guilt for acting on his desires and continues to wrestle with discomfort within himself. This portrayal underscores the harsh reality for many in the LGBTQIA+ community, where the journey to self-acceptance is often fraught with guilt, fear, and self-doubt.

Mr. Farouk's narrative in Heartstopper season two serves as a poignant reminder of the emotional challenges faced by LGBTQIA+ individuals in their journey towards self-discovery and acceptance. It underscores the importance of creating more understanding and supportive environments to help alleviate these struggles.

The Dichotomy of Acceptance

The character Darcy Olsson, portrayed by Kizzy Edgell, offers a heartbreaking glimpse into the harsh realities faced by many LGBTQ+ youths. Her storyline is particularly poignant as it tackles the issue of homelessness, a grave reality for many LGBTQ+ young people whose identities are not accepted by their families.

Darcy's mother does not accept her identity, leading to an unstable home environment and the looming threat of displacement. This mirrors the lived experiences of countless LGBTQ+ youths, many of whom face homelessness due to lack of affirming homes. According to studies, LGBTQ+ youth are 120% more likely to experience homelessness compared to their heterosexual peers.

Despite her personal struggles, Darcy presents a strong front for her partner and at school. She hesitates to disclose her struggles, a common trait among those experiencing abuse or fear of rejection. Her reluctance to discuss her home life acts as a significant sign of possible abuse.

Darcy's character in 'Heartstopper' brings to light the urgent need for societal acceptance and understanding towards the LGBTQ+ community. It underscores the importance of providing safe, affirming spaces for all individuals, regardless of their identity.

Embracing Identity and Finding Acceptance

In Heartstopper season two, the theme of acceptance is intricately woven into the narrative, illuminating the experiences of diverse characters within the LGBTQIA+ community.

A pivotal moment of acceptance occurs when Elle, a transgender character, finds acceptance and camaraderie among friends at the Lambert School of Art. This narrative arc underscores the importance of finding supportive communities for LGBTQIA+ individuals, particularly in environments that foster creativity and self-expression.

Isaac's storyline also offers a powerful exploration of acceptance. In a significant development, Isaac comes to accept his asexuality. His journey sends a potent message to viewers about self-acceptance and the importance of understanding one's identity. It's noteworthy that this may be one of the first times the ace (asexual) community is represented in mainstream media, making it an important milestone for visibility and representation.

Both these storylines are powerful in their portrayal of acceptance and belonging. Elle and Isaac's journeys highlight the importance of embracing one's uniqueness and finding communities that affirm and celebrate diverse identities. Their narratives underscore the beauty of accepting oneself and others, delivering a strong message of inclusivity and acceptance within the broader LGBTQIA+ context.

Understanding Tao's Journey: Debating Sexuality and Acceptance

Tao Xu, portrayed by William Gao in the Netflix series Heartstopper season two, embarks on a journey of self-discovery and acceptance as he navigates through the complexities of dating Elle, a trans woman. His character arc provides a nuanced exploration of identity and sexual orientation, highlighting the challenges and prejudices faced by those dating trans individuals.

In the series, Tao's relationship with Elle is marked by moments of joy, confusion, and introspection. The narrative explores how Tao grapples with societal labels and categorizations. Is he straight or queer? This question forms the crux of Tao's struggle, demonstrating the limitations of conventional definitions of sexuality.

The debate surrounding Tao's sexual identification highlights a broader societal issue: the need for a more inclusive understanding of sexual orientation. It's a reminder that identity is multi-faceted and fluid, not confined to binary labels of 'straight' or 'queer'.

Tao's storyline also underscores the prejudices and adversities faced by those dating trans individuals. It brings attention to the often unspoken stigma and misconceptions that trans people and their partners face in society.

Just like Isaac, Tao is also on a quest for acceptance and understanding. His journey serves as a testament to the universal human desire to be seen, accepted, and loved for who they truly are.

Through Tao's narrative, Heartstopper shines a light on the diverse experiences within the LGBTQIA+ community, emphasizing the importance of empathy, understanding, and acceptance in navigating relationships and identities.

Charlie's Stand

Charlie's stand is a significant plot point that stems from his decision not to accept Ben's apology. This decision is multifaceted, reflecting both the consequences of Ben's struggle with self-acceptance and Charlie's journey towards self-assertion.

From one angle, Ben's apology can be seen as an attempt to reconcile with his past actions, which were largely driven by his struggle to accept his own sexuality. His behavior towards Charlie in Season One was abusive, manifesting as bullying and sexual assault, which stemmed from his internal conflict and fear of coming out. Ben's apology, therefore, was not only an acknowledgment of his wrongdoings but also a reflection of his ongoing struggle with self-acceptance.

However, from Charlie's perspective, accepting Ben's apology would mean overlooking the trauma inflicted upon him. By refusing Ben's apology, Charlie asserts his right to heal on his own terms. It is a powerful demonstration of his growth and resilience, showcasing his ability to stand up against those who have harmed him.

In Season One, Ben, unable to accept his feelings for Charlie, resorts to bullying him, leading to a traumatic incident where he sexually assaults Charlie. These actions leave deep emotional scars on Charlie, impacting his mental health and self-esteem.

Charlie's decision not to accept Ben's apology in Heartstopper Season Two is a complex interplay of personal growth, self-assertion, and the ongoing impacts of past abuse.

Family Dynamics and the Power of Allyship

The exploration of family dynamics takes center stage, offering a nuanced portrayal of the complexities faced by LGBTQ+ youth in their domestic spheres. Notably, the characters of Nick and Charlie navigate these complexities against a backdrop of fear, phobia, bullying, and the struggle for acceptance.

Nick's relationship with his brother, David, is a stark representation of the bullying and homophobia often faced by queer individuals within their own families. Throughout the season, David's aggressive behavior towards Nick underscores the potential risk associated with coming out. It's a painful reminder that acceptance is not always guaranteed, even from those who are supposed to love and protect us unconditionally.

On the other hand, Charlie's sister provides a contrasting dynamic, embodying the role of a supportive ally within the family. Her protective attitude towards Charlie is a powerful testament to the importance of allyship and familial support in the face of adversity.

A major theme in the show is the concept of forced outing or involuntary disclosure of an individual's sexual orientation. Heartstopper strongly advocates that being forced to come out should never be the reality. Every individual deserves the right to come out on their own terms, and in their own time.

Rhea Norwood, another character in the series, also signifies the power of allyship. While her own sexuality may be explored further in future episodes, her support and understanding have been pivotal elements throughout the series.

Heartstopper Season Two weaves intricate family dynamics into its narrative, providing a candid look at the trials, tribulations, and triumphs of coming out. It emphasizes the importance of support and allyship, while also addressing the harsh realities of phobia and bullying.


Heartstopper Season Two has made significant strides in representing the LGBTQIA+ community, offering a poignant and authentic portrayal of the experiences many queer individuals face. The family dynamics and the struggles faced by Nick and Charlie, from bullying to acceptance, provide a window into the realities of coming out.

The series is not only a testament to the power of love and acceptance but also a critical exploration of the societal pressures and prejudices that the LGBTQIA+ community continues to confront. It underscores the importance of allyship, with characters like Charlie's sister and Rhea embodying the supportive roles that can significantly impact the lives of LGBTQIA+ individuals.

Moreover, the series highlights the unsettling reality of forced outing, advocating for every individual's right to disclose their sexual orientation on their own terms. It makes a compelling argument against this harmful practice, urging viewers to understand and empathize with the emotional turmoil such instances can cause.

As Heartstopper continues to push boundaries in its representation of LGBTQIA+ narratives, it invites further discussion and understanding of these issues. It encourages viewers to engage in dialogue, foster empathy, and work towards creating a more inclusive society.

With its nuanced characters and relatable storylines, Heartstopper Season Two has proven to be a milestone in representation, shining a light on the LGBTQIA+ community and their experiences. As we look forward to future seasons, let us continue to celebrate and support such authentic portrayals in the media.

Written By: 

Kollyn Conrad




LGBTQIA+ Publicly Private Culture LGBTQIA+ Publicly Private CommunityLGBTQIA+ Publicly Private Health