Since embarking on his solo career in 2017, Harry Styles has become just as well-known for his gender-bending fashion choices as he has for his vintage-inspired sound. And while the musician has endured his fair share of criticism over his choices, in a recent interview with The Guardian, Harry Styles denied that he uses "sexual ambiguity" to seem interesting. During the interview, the former One Direction member reflected on the fact that many of his artistic choices have upended gender and sexuality norms, explaining that he isn't attempting to "queer-bait" his fans with his album artwork or red carpet ensembles.
"Am I sprinkling in nuggets of sexual ambiguity to try and be more interesting? No," the singer said, matter-of-factly. "In terms of how I wanna dress, and what the album sleeve’s gonna be, I tend to make decisions in terms of collaborators I want to work with. I want things to look a certain way. Not because it makes me look gay, or it makes me look straight, or it makes me look bisexual, but because I think it looks cool."
Styles also told the outlet that he feels that the way younger generations have blurred lines — both in terms of gender presentation and musical genres — is incredibly inspiring. "I think it’s a very free, and freeing, time," he said. "I think people are asking, ‘Why not?’ a lot more. Which excites me. It’s not just clothes where lines have been blurred, it’s going across so many things. I think you can relate it to music, and how genres are blurring."
And with that freedom has come a level of "self-acceptance" for Styles to feel confident expressing himself and his style in whatever way he chooses. "For me it’s not a question of [gender]," he said, referencing the sheer jumpsuit and pearl earring he wore to host the 2019 Met Gala. "If I see a nice shirt and get told, 'But it’s for ladies.' I think: 'Okaaaay? Doesn’t make me want to wear it less though.' I think the moment you feel more comfortable with yourself, it all becomes a lot easier."
One thing that Styles has not become more comfortable with is the pressure to publicly label his sexuality. "It’s not like I’m sitting on an answer, and protecting it, and holding it back," the singer said when asked whether the artwork for his sophomore album, Fine Lines, was a hint at his orientation. "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. It’s: who cares?"
This is far from the first time that Styles has spoken about his disinterest in defining his sexuality for the public; in May 2017, the singer told The Sun that he "never felt the need" to label his feelings. "I don’t feel like it’s something I’ve ever felt like I have to explain about myself," he added.
Still, Styles has made his support of the LGBTQ+ community very clear over the years, even helping a fan come out to her mother at a concert in May 2018. "I want to make people feel comfortable being whatever they want to be. Maybe at a show you can have a moment of knowing that you’re not alone," he told Rolling Stone in August about his habit of waving LGBTQ+ pride flags onstage. "I’m just trying to make people feel included and seen."
Regardless of whether or not he does decide to ever label his sexuality, it's clear that Styles is on a mission to express himself in whatever way makes him feel the most free and comfortable — and that by doing so, he is inspiring people everywhere to do the same.