Harry Styles boldly declares gay romance My cop isn’t concerned with “gay men.”
Styles also has some thoughts on how gay sex is portrayed in film.
Here’s Harry Styles, once again dabbling in dubious queerbaiting territory. A new Rolling Stone profile on the pop icon acknowledges that this is one of the most common criticisms levelled at him, but Styles maintains that he has never “publicly been with anyone” and thus continues to resist society’s restrictive labels.
Though he’s laughably tight-lipped about his personal life for someone embroiled in a highly publicised (reported) affair with his Don’t Worry Darling director, the upcoming My Policeman star is proudly planting a rainbow flag in his professional career. “It’s obviously pretty incomprehensible to think, ‘Oh, you couldn’t be gay.’ “That was illegal,” Styles says of his role as a gay cop in 1950s Britain.
“I think everyone, including myself, has their own journey with figuring out sexuality and becoming more comfortable with it,” he continues. It’s not like, “This is a gay story about these gay guys.” To me, it’s about love and squandered time.”
Styles is far from the only celebrity who has played the my-gay-film-is-about-more-than-just-being-gay card. Many performers have been quick to point out that a gay love story is just a love story like any other, whether it was to genuinely legitimise queer cinema or to skittishly distance themselves from the subject matter. However, the tedious talking point borders on homophobic: there is obviously nothing wrong with a gay-themed film!
My Policeman transcends sexuality, according to Styles, and this extends to the intimate scenes. “So much gay sex in film is two guys going at it, and it takes away the tenderness,” he says. “I imagine there will be some people who watch it who were very much alive during this time when being gay was illegal, and [director Michael Grandage] wanted to show that it’s tender, loving, and sensitive.”
There’s almost too much to unpack here, but suffice it to say that Styles didn’t have to undermine the entire history of gay sex in film to claim that his sex scenes are extremely sensitive. There must be room in cinema for all interpretations of sex, desire, and intimacy. Again, there is nothing inherently wrong with “two guys going at it.” (By the way, according to Pedro Almodóvar, gay sex in a film like Brokeback Mountain isn’t animalistic enough.) Styles should go over his press releases again before the My Policeman PR blitz begins in earnest.