The New York Times article questions British idol’s use of queer symbols – without accompanying an explicit stance on behalf of the LGBTQIAP+ community
“Discussions about the identity of anyone, including celebrities, is inherently complicated. But in a culture obsessed with identity politics and still marked by homophobia, it is inevitable that we question who our idols really are, especially if their style and mystique invite us to ask questions,” says the article.
When describing the queer symbols to which she refers, the columnist points to the flowers on her boutonniere – a reference to Oscar Wilde -, for the line ‘never gonna dance again’, by George Michaeltattooed on Styles’ foot, to the handkerchief in his back pocket, former gay identification symbol in the United States, and, of course, to the rainbow flag that Styles frequently raises in his performances.
With the title Harry Styles Walks a Fine Line (‘Harry Styles walks a fine line’), the text imagines two possible answers to what it believes to be Styles’ identity confusion – that of a heterosexual man, who appropriates the identity of a marginalized community; or that of an artist with repressed sexuality, who sees queer identity as a way of being accepted by his peers.
Anna Marks still cites regressions of LGBTQIAP+ rights in places where the British star has been on his most recent tour, the Love On Tour:
“In the United States, where Styles commands the stage, anti-LGBTQ bills have become commonplace in many state legislatures. In Eastern Europe, where he toured earlier this summer, LGBTQ rights have regressed. And in many other markets around In the world, our existence is denied, if not outright criminalized. Faced with this, Mr. Styles does not propose open rebellion, but rather the easy appeal to ‘treat people good-kindness’ – a weak commonplace in the face of the fanaticism that marks 2022.”
Anna Marks concludes her text with a warning about the use of the symbols of a community by an artist – which, according to her, would require greater attention in the face of the political struggle for the rights of the same: “No matter how he identifies himself, if Mr. Styles wants to dance with our symbols, he should pay more attention to their political side, whether or not he wants our freedom.”
“The text is a comic piece about the contradictions of progressive discourse on sexual matters. The first of these contradictions is based on the very idea of fluidity: why can gender be fluid, but everything else must be rigid and perfectly identifiable? Mystery. “
For Coutinho, it would be “perfectly legitimate”, for Styles to feel heterosexual at home and queer on stage (and vice versa). The columnist also argues that “no civilized person denies the importance of fighting for a society that does not humiliate or discriminate against difference” – although without citing or responding to the regressions of LGBTQIAP+ rights pointed out in the text of the The New York Times.
In his opinion, Coutinho defends the singer’s right to have his private life preserved, denying the need for public identification of a sexuality, “not even in the name of fighting homophobia.”
“Marks’ demand that Styles come out of the closet strikes me as as totalitarian as the Jurassic moralists’ demand that gays stay in the closet.”
What says Styles
global cover of rolling stoneIn August, Harry Styles spoke about exposing her personal life and sexuality – scrutinized since her adolescence – in public.
“I have never spoken in public about my life outside of work and that has benefited me,” he explains, perhaps anticipating. “There will always be one version of a narrative and I think I’ve decided not to spend time trying to correct or redirect anything in any way.”
Without going too far, Styles commented on how silly he finds some arguments about how he should identify himself. “Some people say, ‘You only appear publicly with women,’ and I don’t think I’ve appeared in public with anyone, really. If someone takes a picture of you with someone, it doesn’t mean that you have chosen to publicly assume a relationship with anyone.”
In the film, Styles plays Tom, a police officer who falls in love with a museum curator named Patrick (David Dawson). Set in the 1950s, when same-sex relationships were still illegal in the UK, the couple ends up dating in secret while Tom seeks a marriage with a schoolteacher named Marion (Emma Corrin).
The film alternates between the past and the present, as the trio come together in a dire circumstance. “It’s obviously immeasurable to think these days, ‘Oh, you couldn’t be gay. That was illegal,’” says Styles. “I think all of us, including me, have our own journey of sexual discovery until they feel comfortable with it.” For him, My Policemanit is a story full of humanity. “It’s not like, ‘This is a gay story about these guys being gay,’ but about love and wasted time, for me.”
According to Styles, Michael Grandage, the director of the film, wanted to show what sex between two men is like in the scenes between Tom and Patrick. “A lot of the gay sex scenes in movies involve two guys making out and that takes the beauty out of the thing,” Styles continues. “I imagine that some of the people who are going to see it were alive at this time when being gay was illegal and Michael wanted to show how beautiful and sensitive it is, full of love.”