Harry’s queer politics have been consistent and coherent. From, March 2012, when
he wore a t-shirt celebrating the court case that legalised same sex marriage in New York that a fan gave him (for more info see bulletproofhalo’s excellent timeline):
To the two rainbows he posted after the Orlando shooting last month.
He has supported marriage equality, opposed homophobia and celebrated Pride regularly. I’m sure everyone reading this post already knows Harry’s history openly supporting queer struggle. Fandom knows this, it’s well documented, that’s not the point of this post. What I realised, while I was putting this together, was that Harry has done all that without ever using the words: ‘gay’, ‘lesbian’, ‘queer’ or any variation of the LGBTQIA acronym.
As far as I can tell the only time Harry has used the word ‘gay’ in public is this incredible interview from December 2011:
In 2013, of course, Harry answered a GQ interviewer who asked if he was bisexual: “
Bisexual? Me? I don’t think so. I’m pretty sure I’m not.” (I know everyone hates that interview - and the interviewer is a horrible misogynist. But I love Harry’s response so much. More than anything else I want him to have been telling the truth - both about not being bisexual and having slept with two people. But the interviewer was so convinced he understood far more than anyone else, that he didn’t even notice).
And that’s it - every expression of queer liberation, queer equality and pride from Harry has been through symbols and euphemisms.
The symbols are mostly rainbows - there’s a lot of rainbow Harry. In 2015, he draped himself in a rainbow flag again and again and again (those were good days)
Quietasides has each of those beautiful moments in one post (which is where I got this .gif from). He first posted a rainbow on instagram after the Irish marriage equality referendum succeeded. Then there’s this instagram picture, that I find desperately sad:
Here the symbol is the lack of rainbows. The other main symbolic statement Harry has made was wearing Michael Sam’s jersey at their 2014 St Louis concert.
As the t-shirt he wore in 2012 and this instagram picture suggest, Harry has mainly talked about love and equality as a way of communicating his support for LGBTQI people and struggles, without direct mentioning sexuality. In 2013, he tweeted “ Despite the company outside, I believe in equal rights for everyone. I think God loves all. Thanks for coming to the show though” when the Westboro baptist church picketed a One Direction gig. A clear statement, but a very indirect one.
When Harry wished Happy Birthday to the London Lesbian and Gay Switchboard, he called it by it’s colloquial name - the switchboard.
(Now that’s it’s official name, but it wasn’t in 2014)
Even in the wild days of Europe OTRA in Helsinki, the day of Pride and the day after the Supreme Court decision he said: “This place looks very colourful tonight, and for a lot of you I know why. And it’s great.” Again relying on the symbols to communicate what he can’t.
The obvious explanation for this is that it’s part of the deal he made with 1DHQ - that he can express himself in symbols and euphemisms, but cannot be direct.
Perhaps that’s what’s going on - I want to suggest another possibility. Some words are really powerful - and some of the most powerful words are can be parts of us we’re not allowed to express or acknowledge, identities that are denied to us.
I can imagine it would be very hard for Harry to say ‘gay’ as if it was a normal word in spaces where he can’t be out. Particularly in a political sense where he would have to use it in way that implied that he was an ally - that he was not that name. That the way he has expressed himself is more ambiguous and doesn’t require him to pretend to be an ally. One of the advantage of indirect communication is it allows lots of possibilities for where you stand.
I imagine the language of euphemism and symbols that Harry has developed is a result of both the external restrictions put on him and also a way that he can express himself that allows space for both who he needs to be seen as and who he is.
There is a whole language of symbols and euphemisms, because generations of queer people have faced exactly the issue Harry does. Ambiguous expression is at the heart of queer coding - it has to be invisible for those who are not looking. Harry is doing something slightly different, for slightly different times, when it’s acceptable for celebrities to support marriage equality - but not really acceptable to be queer - closeted celebrities have to use symbols in new and complicated ways.
I think again of the bears - and that the queer culture of the 1970s and 1980s of the bear’s tableaus was not the angry visibility of queer liberation, but the language of closted celebrities who managed to speak their queerness loudly even though they were limited to symbols and euphemisms.
Maybe one day Harry will be able to speak more freely and directly. I hope so. But that shouldn’t devalue what he’s saying now. His ability to use queer culture to express himself despite his closet is impressive and beautiful.
When Zayn jumped in to say Perrie understands him because they do the same job. Zayn started talking on his own, right after Jonathan said that the boys have plenty of girls chasing after them etc, and Liam looked at Louis immediately.
A few weeks ago Harry Styles was in the House of Lords. He was a guest of Labour peer Robert Winston, Ben Winston’s Dad, and also met Angela Smith - who is the Labour chief whip. He appears to have been there at least partly for the Brexit debate and a guest of the Labour Lords generally as a spokesperson for them made a terrible One Direction pun that I’m not going to repeat but can be seen in the first link (Angela Smith also made the same pun - they must have thought they were so clever).
Now I do not approve of either Robert Winston or Angela Smith and it was hard not to turn this entire post (which I’ve been working on for a while) into a rant about Tony Blair, Iraq, Tony Blair and Iraq, Angela Smith’s vote on Iraq, the fact that Brexit is very much Tony Blair’s fault, the meaning of social democracy, Blair, how nobody in the parliamentary Labour party can count, Blair, the fucking hypocrisy of Blairites blaming Jeremy Corbyn for Brexit, some more about the Iraq war and Tony Blair.
But actually I think it’s quite a fitting beginning for a political post about Harry - because it’s meaning is very unclear. The people he went to visit are very much involved in an inter-party war. The Labour Lords have pinned a tweet that they’re not attending Jeremy Corbyn’s cabinet - because that is obviously the most important political issue in Britain right now.
Was Harry’s visit an endorsement of his hosts political position? We can’t know. It reinforces what we already knew or suspected about him - that he supported the Labour party and voted remain - but we don’t know if it tells any more than that.
Niall has made a few political statements, and all of them suggest a coherent worldview. Liam has made very few political statements on purpose, but many more by accident, demonstrating that he really doesn’t understand politics. Zayn has made exactly one political statement (since I wrote that he’s made two more - one so incoherent that I could not parse it) qand Louis none* but (spoiler alert this is part of what I’m going to say in Louis’ posts) that ability to not make political statements by accident suggests a political fluency that Liam doesn’t have.
And then there’s Harry.
Harry has made a lot of political statements and a lot of political adjacent statements. A lot. And it’s hard to tell what he means by most of it.
I’m going to try and coral them into some kind of order and explore what they might mean for Harry’s worldview. This is the first part - the second part will talk about specifically about queer politics
So I lightened up this gif because itsmeduhaha told me she watched the video lightened up and she could see Zayn and Liam kissing, and I think you can see when their lips touch and in the third one Zayn lifts his head. Louis is in the way so it’s hard to see, but Liam does duck in the direction of Zayn in the first place, so!
HERE is the big, full version of the gif and here you can see Zayn moving his legs when Liam was on top of him so i do believe he kissed him.
All credits to itsmeduhaha who looked at the moments again. I just lightened up the gif :)
The most important thing about One Direction to me is, they (and you guys) made me feel included...
I was thinking about writing something about the boys since early morning but i’m still struggling with. This is going to be all over place. But it’s basically this:
So, we’re in this transition moment. We’re still walking blindly to the edge, hoping to find the finish line. Hoping for the best. Hoping to win. Cause i want to see them to win, you know, their life back, so badly. Properly. I want them to share with us the truth about them and their lives. But the truth they choose to share. I want them to be proud of themselves, proud of their choices. The choices made by them, not others. I want them to know we stayed and we will continue to stay with them through the next chapter. The most exciting one. The most bright one. Where we will be able to see them as a whole. Maybe we will not love everything but i don’t want them to stay behind excuses. They all wear the heart on their sleeves. So i want to witness that. In every tweet/RT. In every IG comment. In every interview. There may be mistakes, but i know there will be sorry and acknowledgement, good will to change things and make better and be better. I don’t want to see them be privated of their voices ever again. Maybe it will take a little longer than expected. But hopefully not too long. I am waiting. And i choose to stay.
As a older fan, i just want to say thank you for things that i learned not just from them, but mostly from some people in this fandom. Although i still don’t feel comfortable to share too much about me, it’s comforting to know there are people passing through the same things. I’m alone but at the same time i’m not. Not matter the race, the nationality, the age, the sexuality, the economic status.
Bla, bla, bla. I told it was all over the place. Lol. I just love One Direction, man…
“Mind if I cut in?” The low voice filters through the mindless chatter surrounding Liam, sounding a bit unsure and… familiar?
The hand on his shoulder blade reaffirms what his pounding heart has dared to hope. “Zayn.” The word falls from his lips breathlessly as he spins around to find the source, hearing chuckling in the distance from his sister, Ruth, about ‘going to find Mom’. And then the two of them are alone.
Well, as alone as the two can be when surrounded by one hundred of Liam’s parents’ closest friends.
“You made it,” Liam beams, his fingers finding their place against Zayn’s cheekbones as his hands cup around his jaw.
“Wouldn’t miss it for the world, Li,” Zayn smiles, setting his hands against Liam’s lightly.
“You know you didn’t have to come. It’s not a real wedding, you know,” Liam teases, waggling his eyebrows as a laugh bursts out of him, his head falling back as a deep crinkle forms around his eyes.
In response, Zayn runs his fingers over Liam’s, pausing as he reaches the back side of the palm. With a smirk, he pulls the hands off of his face, grasping around one as well as he’s able. A giggle escapes his lips as he pulls Liam out onto the dance floor, fighting his way through a sea of people to find a prime spot in the center.
“Zayn!” Liam cries as he’s jerked along by his boyfriend, apologizing as each second passes and he hits smack dab in the middle of another couple.
“Leeyum, it’s obviously important to your parents,” Zayn mutters, leaning in close so that Liam can hear him over the live band, currently playing an acoustic cover of some ‘80s love song. “Besides, I wanted to do this.” Letting go of Liam momentarily, one of his hands finds Liam’s shoulder blade, the other re-clasping onto the just-held hand. Sucking a breath in, Liam slides his free hand down to Zayn’s waist, doing his best to ignore his rapidly warming hands, the uneven drumming of his heart through his ears.
Nodding over to Karen and Geoff, Zayn smiles. They’re in their own little worlds as they slow dance, mouthing the lyrics to the other with an overflow of energy, as they had been for almost an hour now. “It doesn’t matter if it’s a vow renewal. Or a birthday. Hell, it could even be little Jimmy losing his first tooth,” Zayn grins, eyes softening when he catches Liam’s gaze. “I’ll be there.”