This post is sponsored by Bonnier UK.
This month we’ve been devouring Arvin Ahmadi’s ‘How It All Blew Up‘. In the story, we follow Amir as he struggles to come out to his family. Running away from blackmailers at school and his life problems, he heads to Rome to find his happy place where he can truly be himself with no fear of judgement.
That got us thinking about our happy place and person in our lives who truly makes us feel okay to be who we are. Of course, we’re talking about Harry Styles. From his support of the LGBTQIA+ communities to crushing gender boundaries and letting his fans know it’s okay to be vulnerable.
We spoke to you, the fans, to find out your real-life stories and how Harry Styles has impacted them and your journeys so far.
I’ve looked up to Harry since 2010 in his One Direction days and he was always my something to go to when life was rubbish, someone to make me happy.
I came out as trans in 2015 (just before the boys went on their “hiatus” and when long-haired Harry was spreading nothing but love constantly and holding pride flags at all the concerts he could) knowing how supportive he was of the LGBTQIA+ community when I was so unsure of most people in my life made me feel safe.
The way he’s been crushing gender boundaries with his makeup, nail polish and skirts etc. really has helped with my gender dysphoria. That no matter if I still feel like I look too “feminine” for my liking it doesn’t make me any less than a man or any less me. There is no way to “be a man” you just be you and embrace whatever that is.
When deciding my new name Edward was a family name already but, obviously, it’s Harry’s middle name. A nod to how much he’s done for me without even knowing. Every time he’s held a trans flag at a concert or spoke about how he loves you regardless of who you are.
It really makes me feel like if no one accepts me for being me, at least HE does. Even if he’ll never be aware of my existence he’s practically saved my life, I’m now one year on Testosterone and two weeks ago I had my Top Surgery and I really don’t think I would’ve gotten to this point without him.
I would say that the way that Harry expresses himself, wearing nail polish, pearls, dressing femininely, etc has been really freeing and inspiring to me as a trans person. A lot of the time for trans men/trans masculine people there can be a sort of feeling of pressure to be a certain kind of man, and having Harry to look up to as someone who embodies a different kind of expression has been really helpful and powerful to me
and that goes beyond how he dresses too, extending to his emphasis on empathy and kindness, his willingness to be emotionally vulnerable without dressing it up with any kind of machismo or sarcasm or self-deprecation.
I also think that some of the things he has said about his own identity have helped me to feel less pressure to come to any fixed conclusions about myself and to just accept myself for who I am. Multiple times he has been asked to label himself in a specific way, and he has said he hasn’t felt the need to. I used to think a lot about a specific definition for my gender identity and wonder where exactly I sat on the spectrum and seeing him so firmly defy the need for categorisation has helped me to let go of that and sit more comfortably with words like trans and queer without needing to know the exact minutia of where I fall on the continuum.
I became a fan of Harry a little over a year ago, so I wasn’t around in the fandom when this happened (although I did hear about it at the time), but the song Medicine is also really important to me. I think it’s really cool that someone who came from a boyband like Harry did, who had a certain image coming out of that, got up on stage every night of his world tour for his first album and sang a song that he wrote with the lyrics:
“The boys and the girls are in
I mess around with them
And I’m okay with it”
I really wish I had been able to scream those lyrics live in the audience, but even now I find it really cool and important that a major artist with his background wrote and performed that song, and I wish that more people talked about that song, because I know it’s really important to a lot of fans.
His song Lights Up personally holds a similar significance to me. That song and that video were really what made me a fan of him. I was so struck by the video and the display of vulnerability and freedom that at least to me is what it conveys. I watched it so many times the night it was released, and listening to that song when it came out really did make me feel more confident existing as a queer person in the world, as cheesy as that sounds. To know that someone as famous and as looked-up-to as Harry was struggling with similar things like self-doubt, self-acceptance, etc. To see the vulnerability of what he was putting forward, the choice that the song and video represent, to choose to open yourself up to the world and be who you are. To see that reflected back at me when I wasn’t expecting it, or maybe when I needed it
I feel like I’ve probably gone on too long here, I have so much to say! I could talk about his support for queer artists and queer talent like Muna, Orville Peck, King Princess, designers like Harris Reed, brands like 3rd Class Clothing; his love for waving rainbow flags and other pride flags at concerts – all of it helps me and other LGBTQIA+ fans to see ourselves celebrated and welcomed and to see our culture valued and reflected. It makes his concerts not only safe spaces for LGBTIA+ fans but almost like pride events. I was so looking forward to experiencing that myself this year, but sadly couldn’t due to covid. But I have been able to experience that feeling of community by being a part of his fanbase and connecting to other fans online. The vast majority of Harry Styles fans I’ve met through being a fan of him are a part of the community and a really good friend of mine who is also trans who has been invaluable to me for the past year I met through both of us being fans of Harry.
I honestly don’t know what I would have done without the support system I found in this fandom this past year, and we all were able to find each other because of Harry and the safe and celebratory space he has fostered through him being himself, expressing that through art, and celebrating the community in the way that he does.
In 2014, Harry Styles and Liam Payne did an interview. When Liam said a trait he looked for in a partner was female, Harry calmly laughed and stated, “not that important”, and then moved on. I never moved on.
It was as if I physically heard the lightbulb ping above my head. I lived half an hour from Harry’s hometown, and we were around the same age. I had grown up in a household that did not have pleasant narratives about LGBTQIA+ people and through my teens, I had been surrounded by gay male friends, but I and my other cis-female friends, rarely chatted about our own sexuality.
I never knew how to define it but I always felt like I was meant to because that was just what was done. That interview moment was a jarring realisation that it’s not some enormous confession that is owed to people. Coming out is an important event for many LGBTQIA+ people, but everyone’s journey with their sexuality is different, and I realised from Harry’s little 3 words passing comment, I didn’t have to make some grandiose announcement of who I want to sleep with or love. I could just be queer, and that would be okay, and it was alright to just get on with it.
When Harry sang Medicine for the first time on his world tour in March 2018, and we heard “the boys and the girls are in, I mess around with him, and I’m okay with it” for the first time; I cried. My mind went to teenage Harry, who I believe faced a lot in his earlier career regarding his sexuality, and to the many One Direction songs that I always believed carried an LGBTQ+ message, hidden behind heteronormative lyrics, and then I saw adult Harry stood on stage, performing a song that he had written, to tens of thousands of people, announcing he’s okay with his sexuality. It was like a queer little soul hug for me. He shook the first time he performed it, but by the end of the tour, he’d chucked in dance moves, and we all knew every word.
When Harry helped a fan named Grace, come out to her Mum in 2018, by screaming “Tina, she’s gay!” down the mic at his gig (with consent, of course), it reminded me; that the person I fell in love with 10 years ago singing Stevie Wonder, working in a bakery, from down the road in Holmes Chapel; would be so supportive of me that he’d shout it down a microphone, in front of 15,000 people – and that made me feel so strong, so proud and so warm.
Now I have shared my sexuality with some and decided it isn’t necessary to share it with others. Much like Harry, I don’t feel the need to stick a label on my sexuality or try to make it palatable or understandable for other people. It’s my sexuality and it belongs to me.
A few weeks ago, Harries got behind the singer again, trending #WhyImGolden and there was a barrage of comments similar to the below. The power that Harry Styles posses and love that he exudes is like no other artist we’ve seen in our lifetime. After all, his motto is Treat People With Kindness.
i think this sums it up tbh pic.twitter.com/kWSX60eF5n
— ᴴ nabby GRAMMY ERA ᴰᵂᴰ (@darIingstyIesx) November 15, 2020
Arvin Ahmadi’s ‘How It All Blew Up’ is available to buy now, here.
Thank you Verity. It’s an excellent piece and I’m honoured to have been a part of it x
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