Harry Styles Queerbaiting and Bad Outfits
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Harry Styles Queerbaiting and Bad Outfits refers to a viral debate about pop singer Harry Styles, who's fashion, clothing and mannerisms have led many online to call him a queerbaiter, as in, he's appropriating LGBTQ+ signifiers and aesthetics for monetary gain. Meanwhile, Styles is reportedly straight, having never officially come out of the closet. His genderbending outfits worn at award ceremonies, on tour and elsewhere sparked discourse and memes on Twitter, among other sites, predominantly starting in 2020 after his Dress Vogue Cover. Other notable outfits a part of the lineage are his "pilgrim" outfit with pink suspenders and his 2023 Grammys outfit.
In November 2014, discourse about One Direction's Harry Styles perceivably "queerbaiting" first surfaced, related to a comment of his made during a November 3rd, 2014, interview with the YouTube channel of On Demand Entertainment in which he and fellow One Direction member Liam Payne were asked by the interviewer what four traits they look for in a lady. Payne replied, "Female," to which Styles replied, "Not that important" (shown below).
The moment inspired discourse within the One Direction fandom, amplified by Huff Post writer Odelia Kaly who published an article on November 20th, 2014, about the interview moment, titled, "Why Harry Styles' 'Not That Important' Is Massively Important," continued, "If Harry Styles can shrug and say that female is not a trait he finds important in a partner, then what else can happen? In other words, if Harry Styles can be queer, anyone can be queer. The floodgates have sprung open."
The article was reiterated by Tumblr user lesbianhipsterharry, who posted an extensive blog post on the topic on November 22nd, 2014, earning over 170 notes and reposts to Twitter in roughly eight years. The Tumblr post was titled, "Queerbaiting, Harry Styles, and 1DHQ," which ultimately led to the poster stating, "I don’t believe any of Harry’s recent comments are queerbaiting: he has been dropping hints w/rt his queerness for a long time."
Going into 2017, the perception from Styles' fans that he wasn't queerbaiting and was instead just closeted continued. For instance, on May 12th, 2017, Twitter user LHupdates tweeted, "Harry Styles is a closeted gay man. So STOP these ‘he is queerbaiting’ or ‘ he is trying to play both sides’ arguments," earning over 260 likes in six years (shown below).
Harry Styles "We're All A Little Bit Gay"
On July 14th, 2018, Styles was on stage during a concert when he noticed a fan's poster that read, "I'm gay and I love you," to which Styles replied, "We’re all a little bit gay" (YouTube upload shown below).
The moment inspired discourse on Twitter, such as Twitter user MattBellassai on July 15th, 2019, who wrote, "harry styles said 'i mean, we’re all a little bit gay' on stage and my balls exploded," earning roughly 35,000 likes in five years (shown below, left). However, the discourse shifted a year later, represented by Twitter user dyedredhands on April 9th, 2019, who posted a tweet that criticized Styles in comparison to Ariana Grande, earning roughly 12,000 likes in four years (shown below, right).
Pilgrim Harry Styles
Pilgrim Harry Styles refers to a photograph of Styles taken in a photoshoot for his 2019 album Fine Line. In the photo, Styles is wearing a pilgrim hat, pink tights and suspenders. The photograph was released by Vulture, among other publications on December 13th, 2019 (shown below, left). The photograph was polarizing once it landed on social media, inspiring many memes that referenced it going into the 2020s. For instance, on November 26th, 2020, Twitter user bigtiddiejjk tweeted photoshops of Pilgrim Harry Styles attending Thanksgiving, earning roughly 1,900 likes in three years (shown below, right).
2019 The Guardian Interview
On December 14th, 2019, The Guardian writer Tom Lamont published an interview with Styles titled, "Harry Styles: ‘I’m not just sprinkling in sexual ambiguity to be interesting.’" During the interview, Lamont pressed Styles on his queerbaiting allegations:
There’s a popular perception, I say, that you don’t define as straight. The lyrics to your songs, the clothes you choose to wear, even the sleeve of your new record – all of these things get picked apart for clues that you’re bisexual. Has anyone ever asked you though?
“Um. I guess I haaaaave been asked? But, I dunno. Why?”
You mean, why ask the question?
“Yeah, I think I do mean that. 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.”
What is it then?
“It’s: who cares? Does that make sense? It’s just: who cares?”
I suppose my only question, then, is about the stuff that looks like clue dropping. Because if you don’t want people to care, why hint? Take the album sleeve for Fine Line. With its horizontal pink and blue stripes, a splash of magenta, the design seems to gesture at the trans and bisexual pride flags. Which is great – unless the person behind it happens to be a straight dude, sprinkling LGBTQ crumbs that lead nowhere. Does that make sense?
Styles nods. “Am I sprinkling in nuggets of sexual ambiguity to try and be more interesting? No.”
On December 14th, 2019, the Twitter account PopCrave posted a tweet that emphasized certain lines from the aforementioned section of The Guardian interview. The tweet received roughly 3,100 likes in four years.
Harry Styles 2023 Grammys Outfit
On February 5th, 2023, the Twitter account of PopBase posted a photo of Harry Styles at the 2023 Grammy Awards (shown below, left). The tweet received roughly 28,800 likes in five days. Tweets and memes surfaced about the photo in the days that followed, such as a quote retweet posted by Twitter user photonsmight on February 5th, who wrote, "his dedication to never serving must be studied." The QT received roughly 183,200 likes in five days (shown below, right). Other memes surfaced on Instagram that referenced Styles' outfit.
 YouTube – One Direction Fourplay: Harry Styles and Liam Payne answer your questions
 Huff Post – Why Harry Styles' 'Not That Important' Is Massively Important
 Tumblr – lesbianhipsterharry
 Twitter – @Politicalarrie
 Twitter – @LHupdates
 The Guardian – Harry Styles: ‘I’m not just sprinkling in sexual ambiguity to be interesting’
 Twitter – @MattBellassai
 Twitter – @dyedredhands
 Vulture – Harry Styles Exposes Himself (in More Ways Than One) in These Exclusive Fine Line Photos
 Twitter – @bigtiddiejjk
 Twitter – @photonsmight
 Instagram – @still_on_a_downward_spiral
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