Celebrate Bisexuality Day with Harry Styles and Boyfriends

“I came to the conclusion years ago that sexuality is a part of life and a fact of life. More men go to see Olivia Newton-John than women, more women go to see Cliff Richard than men. So the sexuality, the sensuality, is a part of life, part of what being male or female is all about. To play on it seems ridiculously unnecessary. Many artists do that, really play on it, and all I think is that they look so tacky. I’ve never wanted to shock anybody, I can’t see any point. It’s too easy. I could just drop my trousers on stage and it would be the most shocking thing anybody’s seen in years.”

— Cliff Richard, Goldmine magazine, 1994

Really gay? Celebrate!

First introduced way back in 1999, Celebrate Bisexuality Day commends those who are proud to identify as swinging both ways while celebrating and reflecting on their history, community and culture.

For too many years to mention, the focus of LGBTQ in the media has often been on the L and G as many public figures have publicly come out as one or the other side of the fence. Or perhaps not at all. 

Talking of which, former One Directioner turned actor Harry Styles discussed the impact on his sexuality and privacy, specifically, in his most recent feature with Rolling Stone. In it, even though the cross-dressing switch-hitter stresses that his new same-sex romantic drama My Policeman is not as gay as it sounds, he longs for a more open, accepting, and label-free future. 

It’s disappointing, then, to read Styles downplaying the film’s queerness in a way that smacks of a past era’s panic: “It’s not like ‘This is a gay story about these guys being gay,’” he claims, as the article stresses what a “very human story” the movie is. “It’s about love and about wasted time to me.” 

This is an age-old tactic to make gay subject matter more appealing to timid, potentially prejudiced majority audiences; it’s the same mentality that has made “love is love” the standard slogan in bringing straight allies to Pride and queer-rights causes. Everyone likes love, right? Can’t we all be united on that front, and leave it there?

Yet again, the interview also sees Styles sidestepping the matter of his own sexuality – a coy habit that has seen the star, whose preference for non-binary fashion keeps leading the media into chasing a more declarative statement of identity. It’s noted that Harry has been accused of being a master queerbaiter in the more heatedly righteous corners of the t’internet.

But the Flamboyant (it says here) pop star, who sang ambiguously about Boyfriends on his impressive 2022 album Harry’s House, notes that although his love life and sexual identity has been scrutinised, questioned, and picked apart for years, he reckons he‘s never gone official with a partner.

“Sometimes people say, ‘You’ve only publicly been with women,’ and I don’t think I’ve publicly been with anyone. If someone takes a picture of you with someone, it doesn’t mean you’re choosing to have a public relationship or something.”

Harry has been rumoured to have been dating American actress Olivia Wilde for almost two years, and in the RS interview, expressed that although he tries to set boundaries between his personal life and his public life, he’s found that “other people blur the lines for you.” 

Because of that, privacy — especially with the existence of social media and the instant proliferation of photos and videos — become much more complicated: “Can you imagine going on a second date with someone and being like, ‘OK, there’s this corner of the thing, and they’re going to say this, and it’s going to be really crazy, and they’re going to be really mean, and it’s not real.… But anyway, what do you want to eat?,’” he said.

When discussing his role in the upcoming film My Policeman, Harry shared that “everyone, including myself, has your own journey with figuring out sexuality and getting more comfortable with it.”

This isn’t the first time Harry has dropped hints about his sexuality and why he’s never labeled himself publicly. Back in April, the former boy bander spoke to Better Homes & Gardens on the subject, and addressed his experience working through dating and love-related issues with a therapist at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“For a long time, it felt like the only thing that was mine was my sex life. I felt so ashamed about it, ashamed at the idea of people even knowing that I was having sex, let alone who with.”

The public has been keeping a close eye on nearly every aspect of the singer’s life since he first rose to fame in 2010 as one of the more prominent members of One Direction. The lightweight pop band that was founded and handpicked on ITV’s The X Factor, quickly found itself as the centre of attention for millions of knicker-wetting fans, who wanted to know everything about the group’s beloved members Zayn Malik, Niall Horan, Louis Tomlinson, Liam Payne, and Harry, who commented

“At the time, there were still the kiss-and-tell things. Working out who I could trust was stressful.”

Harries have speculated that the star is private about his relationship with Wilde because before he went public with the filmmaker, the internet was abuzz with rumours — some of them a tad hateful and intrusive — regarding Styles’s dating and sexual preferences.

Since his press circuit for his sophomore album Fine Line, the Watermelon Sugar crooner has been known to sport dresses, gracing the cover of Vogue in a gown back in 2020 as well as adopting an overall more traditionally feminine-coded style. In 2021, he even launched his own beauty brand, Pleasing, which has become popular for its variety of pearly nail polish shades. Harry is also a known LGBTQ+ supporter, frequently waving pride flags during concerts, including when he headlined Coachella earlier this month when he grabbed a bisexual flag from the crowd, and donating to charities that support the queer community.

And Harry seems very secure with his undisclosed identity, with him calling speculation over his sexuality “outdated.” With comments remarkably similar to the kind of thing George Michael would offer just prior to his very public dragging out in a Los Angeles toilet, Styles said, “I’ve been really open with it with my friends, but that’s my personal experience; it’s mine,” adding, “The whole point of where we should be heading, which is toward accepting everybody and being more open, is that it doesn’t matter, and it’s about not having to label everything, not having to clarify what boxes you’re checking.”

Whatever the colour of his box, I have a feeling this one will run and run…

Steve Pafford

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