British singer/heartthrob Harry Styles is really into gender-non-conforming fashion — but on questions about his sexuality, he remains mum. And really… is it any of our business?
I will admit that I am just old enough that it’s tough for me to try to catch up and understand who all of the new teen heartthrobs are these days. However, the more I read, the more I learn just enough to know that… this Harry Styles guy? I can dig it.
For those of you who have been hanging out with me in our very comfortable rock commune together, Harry Styles is an English singer and songwriter who was formerly with the boy band, One Direction. Aside from being genuinely talented and having nice hair, he is also most recently well known as the subject of the public obsession with pinpointing exactly what his sexuality is.
Since his newest record, Fine Line, was released earlier this year, its overall aesthetic of pastels and gender nonconformity has fueled media-making questions about his sexuality. For some reason, once you become a household name, we get intimately curious about who you’re sleeping with. Amongst some of the questions raised were some somewhat valid ones as well, regarding whether or not Styles is queerbaiting in order to sell his album.
Given that we do live in a world where rainbow capitalism — corporations and their advertising hinting at LGBTQ cultural affiliation for no purpose other than to sell products and make money — is a genuine concern, this is a fair question. However, Styles has clearly stated that there is no baiting to be found, and, at least in terms of his creative projects, he is just bending however the wind blows.
“Am I sprinkling in nuggets of sexual ambiguity to try and be more interesting? No,” Styles told The Guardian. “In terms of how I wanna dress, and what the album sleeve’s gonna be, I tend to make decisions in terms of collaborators I want to work with. I want things to look a certain way. Not because it makes me look gay, or it makes me look straight, or it makes me look bisexual, but because I think it looks cool.” Styles is not wrong, either.
He doesn’t limit his fashion sense to clothing traditionally associated with the male gender, either — and he doesn’t see why such associations should hinder his choices. ” If I see a nice shirt and get told, ‘But it’s for ladies.’ I think: ‘Okaaaay? Doesn’t make me want to wear it less though,’” he told The Guardian.
To Styles, blurring lines in gender roles — and sexuality — is something that’s easier than ever today. “I think it’s a very free, and freeing, time,” he told The Guardian. “I think people are asking, ‘Why not?’ a lot more. Which excites me.”
In the end, the main reason he gives for insisting on not answering questions about his sexuality is a very progressive one — that it shouldn’t matter what his sexuality is. “It’s not like I’m sitting on an answer, and protecting it, and holding it back,” Styles said of the sexuality question. “It’s not a case of: I’m not telling you cos I don’t want to tell you. It’s not: ooh this is mine and it’s not yours… It’s: who cares? Does that make sense? It’s just: who cares?“
In the end, whether or not he is oriented in any particular way is irrelevant. We do live in a world where the LGBTQ community needs as much representation as we can get. But at the same time, we shouldn’t be hounding people to make definitive declarations about where on the sexual orientation spectrum they land. Not only is it insincere, it also sends a message that people should not have autonomy over their coming out story. We’ve known for a long time that outing people is dangerous. It shouldn’t be encouraged, even with celebrities.
Additional reporting by Marilyn Drew Necci. Top Photo by Helene Pambrune, via Harry Styles/Facebook