Harry Styles contains multitudes—he’s an endlessly polite rockstar, former member of the world’s most popular boy band, fashion icon, and, despite right-wing media’s best efforts to conceal this, a veteran. Yet, as he divulged to Better Homes & Gardens (of all magazines!) in a new profile this week, rising to fame and coming of age during a particularly intense moment in UK tabloid culture has left him working through issues with privacy, intimacy, and sexuality to this day.
Now, with his forthcoming album Harry’s House releasing in about a month, Styles finally seems ready to talk about his sex life—and to a delightful magazine about homemaking, no less!
“For a long time, it felt like the only thing that was mine was my sex life,” Styles said. “I felt so ashamed about it, ashamed at the idea of people even knowing that I was having sex, let alone who with.”
Styles, you’ll recall, was the boyish, perfectly symmetrical face of One Direction for years. That forced him to fit an essentially impossible, paradoxical role as a charmer and flirt who could seduce his way into teen and tween girls’ hearts, but was also, somehow, asexual—as Better Homes & Gardens put it, “an object onto which people project fantasies,” not an actual, sexual person. Eventually, Styles says he “got to a place where I was like, why do I feel ashamed? I’m a 26-year-old man who’s single; it’s like, yes, I have sex.”
Styles, today, is very much not single, and has been in a relationship with actress and director Olivia Wilde for about a year now. Though that hasn’t stopped rampant, persistent speculation about his sexuality, which Styles has made the active choice to keep ambiguous. Through his fun fashion choices that include sequined jumpsuits, dresses and skirts, and plenty of Pride flags, this ambiguity has predictably driven a lot of conservative men and media personalities up the wall—including, most recently, a Newsmax host who cited Styles’ weekend 1 Coachella outfit as proof he needed to serve in the military for three years.
Believe it or not, Styles isn’t bothered by any of the rumblings of weird American men with receding hairlines and a lot of time to spend on the internet. He called the expectation for him to clarify his sexuality “outdated,” and set a clear boundary: “I’ve been really open with [my sexuality] with my friends, but that’s my personal experience; it’s mine,” Styles said.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.”
Do you hear that, people? After years of being stalked by British paparazzi, and forced by One Direction’s record company to wear those thin little scarves and skinny jeans at all times, Styles is allowed to have sex with anyone he wants, as many people as he wants, in any and all positions he wants. And he doesn’t owe us—the nosy voyeurs breathing down his neck for any sort of confirmation that he is gay, straight, bi, or perhaps a clown sex enthusiast—anything!
I genuinely wish all former child stars well, and couldn’t be happier that Styles has reached all of the personal revelations that he’s reached. Coming of age in the spotlight in the era that Styles did was hard—and he acknowledges it was even harder before his time, especially for women: “I think we’re in a moment of reflection,” Styles told the magazine. “You look back, especially now there’s all the documentaries, like the Britney documentary, and you watch how people were abused in that way, by that system, especially women. You recall articles from not even five years ago, and you’re like, I can’t even believe that was written.”
In any case, here Styles is—a label-free, One Direction-free, 28-year-old man who can talk about sex to publications about homes and gardens! Huzzah!