Here's a kind of tough situation: Liam Payne was blasted by One Direction fans on Tuesday night after he made a speech at 1D's Columbus, Ohio show that some interpreted to be homophobic. According to Billboard, Payne was introducing the song "Girl Almighty" and told the crowd, "It is about trying to find that number one woman of your life, which none of you can relate to, because most of you are girls. Except for the boys in here, you know what I'm talking about." The "Drag Me Down" singer's comments were undoubtedly heteronormative — seeing straight as the norm — but homophobic? That's a little bit of a stretch. Still, some fans were seriously pissed, and Payne — never one to keep his opinions to himself on social media — reacted accordingly, defending himself before ultimately apologizing to anyone he inadvertently offended with his choice of words.
In a series of tweets, Payne declared that he's not homophobic, called any talk of it "insane" and "ridicules" (I assume autocorrect got the better of him on that one) and attempted to explain that his speech was nothing but a "throwaway." Still, the singer eventually realized that the comments were poorly worded and apologized to fans for his mistake:
Here's the thing: There is no doubt in my mind that Payne's intentions were totally innocent (if not a little bit ignorant), and he certainly didn't set out to do anything besides casually introduce a song to an eff-ton of fans that night. But there's no denying that in doing so, he offended countless others, even if it was unintentionally. And though his words weren't exactly homophobic, by making a speech that blatantly calls out heterosexuality as the norm, it perpetuates and projects that kind of thinking and culture, which could be seriously hurtful and maybe even harmful to fans who don't identify as straight. So, yes, Payne may have viewed his speech as a "throwaway" — and I totally agree with his point that we all say or do stuff in the moment without thinking it through — but he should probably fix that wording for the next time he intros the song.
That being said, does this give fans a right to come after him with offensive Twitter hate? Of course not. But for the fans who called him out on it and brought it to his attention in a respectful way, good for you. It's important that Payne ultimately apologized for his choice of words, and I think it's something we can all learn from.