Harry Styles

Are the Harry Styles ‘Queerbaiting’ Accusations Fair?

We’re no stranger to drooling over Harry Styles here at The Sword (or other singing studs who support the LGBTQIA+ community, like Dan Reynolds from Imagine Dragons). We’ve squinted our eyes to try and see Harry’s dick, read about his “penis agreement,” anticipated his gay sex scenes in the upcoming film My Policeman, and voted on how hot he is (personally, I’ve watched his “Golden” video about 3 million times). And this year, new articles have put the spotlight on the star’s sexuality. But is that fair?

Back in April, a Better Homes & Gardens interview (huh?!) noted:

Around the time of Fine Line, he faced scrutiny around his sexuality. People became incredulous that he wore dresses, waved Pride flags, and yet hadn’t clarified with precision, publicly to a journalist or on social media, the specifics of who he’d slept with, how he defined. This expectation is, to him, bizarre, “outdated.” “I’ve been really open with it with my friends, but that’s my personal experience; it’s mine,” he said. “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.”

Harry Styles

And then a week ago, a Rolling Stone interview added fuel to the fire:

His sexuality, for example, has been a topic of near-obsession for years. He has embraced gender fluidity in his fashion, like Mick Jagger and David Bowie before him, and has repeatedly pointed out how backward it feels to require labels and boxes for everyone’s identity. Critics of his approach have accused him of “queerbaiting,” or profiting off queer aesthetics without explicitly claiming the community. Defenders feel it’s unfair to force anyone to label themselves as one thing in order to validate their gender or creative expression.

Styles, without prompting, points out how silly he finds some of the arguments about how he may identify to be: “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 Styles

That article seemed to hit a nerve with New York Times guest writer Anna Marks, who this past weekend penned an opinion piece entitled “Harry Styles Walks a Fine Line,” in which she carefully took issue with the way the performer is endearing himself to the queer community without fully supporting it. She writes that “Mr. Styles’s performance (and exorbitant ticket prices) makes his identity our business.”

But…does it?

Marks continues:

He skips onstage with what has become the most corporate-friendly symbol of resistance, a rainbow flag. He deals in less obvious symbols of his possible queerness, too: sizable flowers pinned to a lapel (as Oscar Wilde was known to wear), a scrap of blue fabric dangling suggestively from a back pocket (like the Village cruisers), the words “Never Gonna Dance Again” tattooed across his feet (the croon of the once closeted, later proudly out George Michael). But when he speaks, Mr. Styles tells us a different story. He has consistently declined to claim queer identity or label himself when questioned by the press.

Harry Styles

Because of that, Marks concludes that it’s difficult to “reconcile two of Mr. Styles’s seemingly incompatible public identities, both heartbreaking to many queer fans like me. One, Mr. Styles, assumed a straight man, appropriates the imagery of a marginalized community. Another, Mr. Styles, closeted, performs queerness, presumably in the hope that his community might hold out the palms of their hands and welcome him.”

The big issue at hand, Marks writes, “is that Mr. Styles asks us to revel in his performance without giving us the key with which to unlock that performance’s true meaning. It’s worth asking why his door is locked.”

Marks then puts in on the performer to help combat the extremism that has sadly seen a recent rise:

Implied by his celebrity is the idea that the greatest fights against anti-queerness are over and that it’s good, or at least good business sense, to play coy to appeal to the masses — even those who would rather see you dead than in love. This position does not meet the challenge of a noticeable rise in anti-queerness in recent years…No matter how he identifies, if Mr. Styles wishes to dance with our symbols, he would do well to pay more attention to their politics, regardless of whether he dreams with us of liberation.

Harry Styles

Yikes, Anna! Seriously?! The reader comments on this article are just as fascinating a read, and while overall they offer a variety of opinions from both ends of the spectrum…

  • “As someone who was bullied relentlessly for exhibiting the slightest hint of queerness, I often feel the same frustration with Styles’s ambiguity. Maybe it’s not our business, but then why play into it so heavily while refusing to commit?”

…by and large the recommended “Reader Picks” comments take issue with the NYT writer:

  • “I’m a straight, 57-year-old woman and I’m offended by this article.  Part of accepting another’s sexual identity includes acceptance of their chosen expression of their sexuality, even if they’re in the public eye.  Why should Harry Styles have to live up to the author’s standards of sexual representation?”
  • “Just let Harry Styles be.”
  • “I am gay and think it is a good idea to accept Harry Styles as he is and not to reduce his life to a political act. He obviously supports the gay community and puts it symbols forward to show love and acceptance.”
  • “I love the mysteriousness of Harry Styles. I don’t need him to check off boxes to let me know his exact sexual preferences in order to appreciate his music or his shows.”
  • “Gay people don’t have a trademark on rainbows, and I personally am thrilled if a straight man (if that’s what he is, not really my business) wants to make it easier for gay kids to be who they are too.”

And that’s just a sampling (I highly encourage you to read the piece and the comments). I’m with the majority of the NYT commenters…in this day and age where we have so many dangerous enemies working hard to destroy our dignity and rights, why in God’s name do some people feel the need to criticize an obvious ally? Leave Harry alone.

What do you think? Vote in our poll!

And for some harry rock cock, check out One Erection on NakedSword!

One Erection

11 thoughts on “Are the Harry Styles ‘Queerbaiting’ Accusations Fair?”

  1. Sometimes, our community “amazes” me. We sometimes get so offended by the littlest of things, when it once was that we were screaming at the straights to not be so offended. Now, we question someone’s “loyalty” because they seem to be doing everything gay but not coming out publicly. Seriously?? For all the talk about being “inclusive,” (Hell, how many more letters do we need? How many more colors?) we just canʻt let Harry be Harry, whatever he is?? Has he been bashing the LGBTQIAXYZQIRES (like really, how many letters do we need) community? If anything he has done nothing but support us. And if the motto of our community is to accept one and all into the fold…. then Harry deserves a space in that, regardless of whether or not he chooses to publicly proclaim what he is.

    Him publicly proclaiming any gay-ness is not going to get you a date with him… so give it up. Be happy that he supports you. And in turn, you should support him.

  2. There are ways to be supportive without pulling all the focus to yourself. Look, for example, at Elizabeth Taylor; she dedicated a big part of her life to fight for the rights of people with AIDS but never claimed an identity that didn’t belong to her (or Jade Thirlwall from Little Mix for a recent celebrity). One might argue that context is important and now sexual ambiguity is celebrated (in white, young, cis males, at least) and even glamourized, but what he does IS very performative and he is, indeed, making bank out of our gay money. I’ts appropiative, it’s performative and it’s a reflection of his priviledge… just mixed with music that people like.

    1. So Ariana Grande gets a pass? Why? Because her brother is gay? Maybe because she’s Latinx? Maybe you should sit down and shut up about how people get to define themselves and display their pride and/or support

  3. A few loudmouths complain because he’s coy about his sexuality when the real
    Issue is that they hate anyone who doesn’t specifically identify a certain way. And some gay men in particular, are always accusing anyone who identifies as bisexual or pansexual as “not being true to their gay self” which is just BS

  4. Harry Styles is a performer, you either like him for his craft or not, not who he shags in his down time. Same can be said for James Franco. I happen to love both of them, gay, bi or whatever.

  5. I think Marks has a few screws loose. WTF do ticket prices have to do with ones’ expressed sexual orientation or expression? Nothing!

  6. People feel so fucking entitled these days. Actually, always have been but now they demand you bow to them, or get canceled

  7. It’s the nature of the beast of being famous. Whether one denies it or not, there will always be someone bitching.

  8. It’s Harry’s life let him do as he pleases! To many fucking nosy ass people in the world!
    That bitch Marks is just pissed because she’s getting an it’s Pat response.

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