Like moths to a rainbow sequin jumpsuit, it’s been impossible to steer clear of Harry Styles over the past few weeks.
The global superstar made headlines for his joyful Coachella performances featuring surprise cameos from Shania Twain and Lizzo. His new single As It Was is soundtracking practically every twenty-something’s morning routine vlog on TikTok. And there’s a good chance you and/or people you know are currently sitting in the queue for tickets to the Australian leg of his 2023 world tour.
Now, the hype has also hit Better Homes and Gardens.
Harry is the latest cover star of the US magazine, and in a wide-ranging interview he talks about fame, creativity and sex. It has dramatically pulled focus from their previous subjects which include artfully arranged flowers and large pies.
In short: clever PR!
The star’s upcoming album is called Harry’s House, and an exclusive interview in this unexpected, wholesome and beloved title (three descriptors that Harry is also shooting for) is a good way to build buzz around that.
It’s also a great way for Better Homes and Gardens, currently celebrating its 100th anniversary, to build relevancy.
Though the magazine has featured celebrities like Brooke Shields and Marie Kondo in the past, editor Stephen Orr has addressed the notable departure in content and tone and justified it as a result of Harry’s album.
“[Harry’s House] is a result of his being grounded at home during the pandemic lockdown and all the creative breakthroughs he discovered – something many of us can identify with.
“Our subject matter might usually be fabric swatches and paint colours, but we, like Styles, know it’s the heart and soul of a house that makes it a home.”
What did we learn in the interview?
The profile provides the first glimpse of what fans can expect from the new album: “intimate” reflections on the idea of home (both physical and otherwise), and cottagecore lyrics about “sitting in the garden” and having “maple syrup, coffee, pancakes for two”.
Harry also shared reflections on his time in One Direction, saying he felt trapped by “cleanliness clauses” in contracts restricting his behaviour and policed by the toxic tabloid culture of the time.
Though pointing out it was worse for women (he namechecks Britney Spears, for example), Harry laments the way the media felt entitled to his personal life at a young age.
“[I felt] ashamed at the idea of people even knowing that I was having sex, let alone who with,” he says.
Though he’s now more comfortable with his relationship to sex, love and intimacy, he says he’s still very guarded about what he shares publicly. He sees the expectation (and pressure) to share his sexuality, for instance, as “outdated”.
“I’ve been really open with it with my friends, but that’s my personal experience; it’s mine.
“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.”
So, will people stop asking Harry about his sexuality now?
Mmm… probably not.
Harry has been facing explicit questions about his sexuality and gender identity for the better part of the last decade. In 2013, he told GQ he’s “pretty sure” he’s not bisexual. However, in the years since he’s stated his aversion to labels of all types.
Harry is well-known for his gender-fluid fashion and he also frequently waves pride flags on stage at his shows. Most fans love this and don’t require anything more from him. Some are a bit curious, but generally respectful. And others are sceptical about queerbaiting, or capitalising off the appearance of queerness.
It’s unlikely those questions will completely drop away in the wake of a new album, dropping May 20, and a world tour. But this is a good opportunity to question the media obsession with the issue.
Alternatively, you can take this opportunity to stare at occasionally haunted and increasingly undressed photos of Harry Styles in the English countryside. That’s OK too.
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