Is Harry Styles 'queerbaiting'?

Why questions about the performer's sexuality have placed him in the center of a social media controversy

Harry Styles.
(Image credit: Illustrated | Getty Images)

Pop star Harry Styles has made a name for himself proudly eschewing gender norms, promoting equality, and playing it coy when it comes to his love life (which, he insists, is none of our business). But that very same sexual and romantic ambiguity has thrown Don't Worry, Darling — Styles' new movie — into the center of a social media controversy in which he has been accused of "queerbaiting," or capitalizing on pieces of the queer identity without actually identifying as queer.

Concerns are more specifically tied to remarks Styles made during an interview promoting a different forthcoming new film, My Policeman, a 1950s gay love story in which the former One Direction member plays a lead role. "So much of gay sex in film is two guys going at it, and it kind of removes the tenderness from it," Styles told Rolling Stone during the interview in question. "There will be, I would imagine, some people who watch it who were very much alive during this time when it was illegal to be gay, and [director Michael Grandage] wanted to show that it's tender and loving and sensitive." Notably, Styles also used the interview to address the queerbaiting allegations, explaining he's decided not to "correct" or "redirect" any of the narratives swirling about him at any given moment.

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