Netflix star Joe Locke understands the importance of playing Charlie Spring in Heartstopper. The actor, who came out as gay before his claim to fame, is speaking publicly about his sexuality.

“It’s really nice to carry on getting to know Charlie, growing with him, and using the things that I learned from the craziness of last year to put into Charlie as a character,” Joe told Netflix’s TUDUM in August 2023, ahead of Heartstopper‘s second season.

“Charlie is probably the most confident character in the show. I’ve learned a lot about confidence from him,” the British star added. “About the different types of confidence, and how you don’t always need to be an outwardly extra-confident person to be confident in who you are, and believe in staying true to your morals.”

Playing Charlie brought a sense of confidence to Joe’s own life, especially in terms of helping young people in the LGBTQ+ community.

“I think coming out is stupid, that it’s still a thing that people have to do,” he shared during an interview with The New York Times in July 2023, revealing that he had come out at 12 years old in a since-deleted social media post. “I had just told my mum, and I was on top of the world. I quickly realized I was ready to tell my mum but I was not ready to tell the world. So I quickly deleted it and said my Instagram had been hacked. I went back in the closet for three years. I retold all my friends and they’re like, ‘Yeah, you told us two years ago.’”

However, looking back on his younger self, Joe said that “12-year-old me would be very proud, and terrified” of all that he’s accomplished — thanks to his Heartstopper role.

“I’m getting emotional. I’ve never thought about it in that sense before,” he said. “Which is weird because I’ve thought about the show a lot.”

Now that he’s ready to share his own experiences with the world, albeit with an air of privacy, Joe is getting real about sexuality as a young person. Keep reading for the actor’s most honest quotes. 

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