The decade's most triggering comedy
Harry Styles refuses to define his sexuality. This facet of his personality is part of what makes him so popular with Gen Z and younger fans. Based solely on who he’s dated publicly, some fans believe the 28-year-old British-born singer is straight. But because his straightness is not certain, or rigid, Styles is cool enough to delight the younger crowd.
We’re at a point in society where identifying as “cisgender” is akin to being square. No one could accuse the “Watermelon Sugar” crooner of conformity, though. Styles is famous for churning out catchy songs that play in an endless loop on Pop 40 stations. He’s also known for his eclectic fashion sense, which includes cross-dressing on the cover of major fashion magazines.
Styles is currently dating actress Olivia Wilde, who is a woman. However, a new Rolling Stone article has everyone discussing his sexuality all over again. The article notes how critics have accused him of “queerbaiting” over the years to appeal to that community and make more money by growing his gigantic fanbase.
“Sometimes people say, ‘You’ve only publicly been with women,’ and I don’t think I’ve publicly been with anyone,” Styles told the publication of his love life. “If someone takes a picture of you with someone, it doesn’t mean you’re choosing to have a public relationship or something.”
He’s been coy about nailing down his feelings one way or the other for close to a decade now. Though his answers have varied, Styles has consistently avoided the question.
In a 2013 interview with British GQ, the singer claimed he was “pretty sure” he didn’t identify as bisexual. This wishy-washy, maybe-I-am-but-maybe-I’m-not approach to defining his sexuality would become the norm for Styles as fans demanded to know what the pop star was doing in his bedroom.
The interviewer asked Styles directly because of rumors about the nature of his relationship with friend Nick Grimshaw. The “Night Changes” singer confirmed he and Grimshaw were “just friends,” which spurred the interviewer to ask,“So you’re not bisexual?”
Styles replied: “Bisexual? Me? I don’t think so. I’m pretty sure I’m not.”
There was a time in the not-so-distant past when identifying as LGBT would have been taboo for Hollywood stars. Now the pendulum has swung so far in the other direction that celebrities wear their queer status as a badge of honor to score points with progressive fans.
That’s not to say that they’re lying about their sexual orientation. But rather than keeping their sex lives private, famous folks are now publicizing their romantic pursuits, especially when they deviate from a heterosexual standard.
Styles began his musical career as part of the boy band One Direction after an appearance on the reality competition show “The X Factor” in 2010. One Direction became one of the most popular bands in the world, but it wasn’t until Styles went solo that his fame really took off.
During a 2014 interview alongside One Direction bandmate Liam Payne, Styles had a unique response to what he was looking for in a romantic partner.
“Four favorite traits you look for in a girl?” the interviewer asked.
Payne answered first, jokingly saying: “Female. That’s a good trait.”
Styles disagreed, saying that to him, finding a female love interest was “not that important.” His top traits included a “person” who is natural, has a sense of humor, and is nice.
In 2017, the singer said he never thought it was important to label his sexuality. “It’s weird for me — everyone should just be who they want to be,” he told Bizarre during a discussion about Miley Cyrus announcing she was pansexual. “It’s tough to justify somebody having to answer to someone else about stuff like that.”
“I don’t feel like it’s something I’ve ever felt like I have to explain about myself,” he continued.
Then in 2019, Styles addressed his propensity for wearing clothing typically associated with women, claiming the lines have gotten blurred between men and women. He thinks nothing of donning gowns and wearing nail polish and jewelry.
“Many borders are falling — in fashion, but also in music, films, and art,” Styles told L’Officiel Hommes during an interview for a cover story. “I don’t think people are still looking for this gender differentiation. Even if the masculine and feminine exist, their limits are the subject of a game. We no longer need to be this or that.”
He continued, “I think now, people are just trying to be good. In fashion and other fields, these parameters are no longer as strict as before, and it gives rise to great freedom. It’s stimulating.”
“What’s feminine and what’s masculine, what men are wearing and what women are wearing — it’s like there are no lines anymore,” he stated again during another interview the same year.
Styles had similar things to say about his sexuality during that conversation. “I’m not always super-outspoken. But I think it’s very clear from choices that I make that I feel a certain way about lots of things.”
“I want everyone to feel welcome at shows and online,” he continued while talking about decorating with Pride flags at his shows. “They want to be loved and equal, you know? I’m never unsupported, so it feels weird for me to overthink it for someone else.”
Styles was raised by his mom and grew up with a sister, so traditionally feminine elements were always front and center during childhood.
“I didn’t grow up in a man’s man world. I grew up with my mum and my sister,” Styles told Timothée Chalamet during another interview in 2019. But I definitely think in the last two years, I’ve become a lot more content with who I am.”
“I think there’s so much masculinity in being vulnerable and allowing yourself to be feminine, and I’m very comfortable with that,” the “Late Night Talking” singer continued. “Today it’s easier to embrace masculinity in so many different things.”
Styles gave the most definitive answer while speaking to The Guardian in late 2019. The singer insisted he wasn’t withholding information to be mysterious, but rather rejected the idea that everything needs a label.
“It’s not like I’m sitting on an answer, and protecting it, and holding it back. 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,” he said when asked point blank if he was bisexual.
“It’s: who cares? Does that make sense? It’s just: who cares?” he continued.
“Am I sprinkling in nuggets of sexual ambiguity to try and be more interesting? No.” Styles continued.
“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,” he said. “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.”