Harry Styles Shuts Down "Outdated" Expectations Around Sexual Expression

Harry Styles refuses to be put into a box. In an interview with Better Homes & Gardens released on April 26, the "As It Was" singer addressed "outdated" speculations about his sexuality. Over the course of his solo career, Styles — who has performed in dresses and proudly waved the gay-pride flag on stage — has kept details of his sexuality private, despite the ongoing pressure from his fans and the media to label himself.

"I've been really open with it with my friends, but that's my personal experience; it's mine," Styles says. "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."

"For a long time, it felt like the only thing that was mine was my sex life."

The singer, who has been romantically linked to Olivia Wilde since January 2021, says he used his downtime during quarantine to get closer to his family and friends and explore who he wants to be moving forward — a process that's required him to reflect deeply on his past. During his One Direction days, Styles quickly became a household name — a level of fame that rapidly broke down any boundaries between his personal life and his professional image. He recalls reporters openly asking him about his sex life when he was a teenager fresh out of the "X Factor." At the time, Styles, who has long been branded a "bad boy," felt the need to give a coy answer to maintain his image. Under the surface, however, he was deeply uncomfortable with such intimate questions about his personal life and felt like there was no escape.

"For a long time, it felt like the only thing that was mine was my sex life," he says. "I felt so ashamed about it, ashamed at the idea of people even knowing that I was having sex, let alone who with. . . . At the time, there were still the kiss-and-tell things. Working out who I could trust was stressful. But I think I 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."

Fans have picked apart Styles's song lyrics, closely examined his fashion choices, and even come up with theories about the designs of his album covers for signs about his sexuality. When asked in a 2019 interview with The Guardian whether he is bisexual, Styles said, "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 'cause I don't want to tell you. It's not: ooh, this is mine, and it's not yours. It's: who cares? Does that make sense? It's just, who cares? . . . 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. And more than that, I dunno, I just think sexuality's something that's fun. Honestly? I can't say I've given it any more thought than that."