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Harry Styles: Styles Broaches Bisexuality

Published on December 14th, 2019 at 01:53 am

By Amanda Zabaneh

The human condition revolves around emotions, conflict, and growth. The many positives and negatives in life are necessary for being human. Without these aspects, one would never know the true meaning of love or happiness. Harry Styles is a singer and songwriter born in England on February 1, 1994. His career started with being the lead singer in his high school band called White Eskimo. When Styles was 16 years old, he auditioned for The X Factor and was placed with four other boys his age to form a group called One Direction. One Direction placed third in the competition; however, they were signed by Simon Cowell, one of the judges who put them together. The British boyband soon became one of the most well-known bands all over the world. Styles was the lead vocalist and contributed to writing most of their songs. One Direction had the honor to perform at the Olympics closing ceremony in London in 2012. Styles and the others released five albums in total, almost all ranking No. 1 on the Billboard 200. The group split in 2016, allowing Styles to start his solo career with his debut album Harry Styles in 2017. In his personal life, Styles claims that he does not feel the need to label his sexuality and is seen frequently supporting the pride community. Within the past few years, sexuality has been a more accepted topic to discuss and bring awareness to. The influence of media and celebrities has greatly added to this by giving a voice to the younger generation in our society. Styles uses his influence and writing to express his views on bisexuality, being attracted to both males and females. In a few of his songs, Styles emphasizes the acceptance bisexuality deserves and how it has become apart of our culture. These ideas can be seen in his songs “Lights Up” and “Medicine” through the powerful lyrics woven in throughout both. Bringing attention to bisexuality helps create a more diverse society where people feel comfortable to be themselves and express their true emotions.

As bisexuality has gained more attention in recent years, the different elements of the subject are being explored in songs and writings. On National Coming Out Day in 2019, the song “Lights Up” was released by Styles. This song illustrates the process of declaring one’s sexuality and the courage and strength it requires to “come out.” Coming out is one of the hardest things many people go through during their lifetime because of fear of being judged or left out. Since bisexuality is not considered as a “norm” in society, this idea creates a terrible environment for one who wants to be prideful in their sexuality. Songwriters such as Styles use their music as a way to show others that being different from the “norm” is okay and should be respected and praised. Putting light on coming out, being bisexual, and how these have become part of our culture explains many aspects of the human condition. Sexuality is a huge part of the human condition because it is something that defines every human. Even though there are so many different types of sexuality, they all fall into being human, expressing emotions, being attracted to others, and feeling love. Music has the power to connect people with various beliefs and morals. In the journal “Connecting Music to Ethics,” by Kathleen M. Higgins, she expresses that music has the “positive potential for promoting social harmony” (1). In the context of bisexuality, music can be used to ensure that there is no discrimination against anyone who comes out as bisexual. This encourages people to support each other instead of bringing others down. Furthermore, music can “incite action because it activates the motor system,” meaning that it motivates society to collectively come together to support a common cause (Higgins 1). During June, pride month, Styles holds rainbow flags on stage at his concerts and tells his fans “happy pride” to show them that he supports his fans no matter what. Engaging with his audience through his writing, Styles successfully promotes society to work together to create a peaceful environment. Another statement by Higgins suggests that music should be used to “advance peace and other humanizing ends” (2). Since there are people in society who do not agree with bisexuality, music is a way to change that and hopefully create a clear picture of why people should be accepting of others when they come out. Moreover, Higgins believes that efforts in music “develop receptivity [and] empathy” (2). Empathy is one of the most positive traits one can have because it means that someone can understand what someone is going through. The song “Lights Up” has empathy within it because it makes the listener feel as though Styles is dealing with coming out himself, even though it never specifically says that. To capture his theme of bisexuality, Styles uses metaphors throughout “Lights Up” to reinforce his views. One example includes “All the lights couldn’t put out the dark / Runnin’ through my heart” (Styles 12-13). These lines illustrate a metaphor of the difficulty of coming out and being bisexual since it does not fit the “norm.” The darkness that Styles alludes to comes from the lack of support and recognition society has for the millions of people who belong to the bisexual community. In spite of pride month and the new attention that has been brought to this issue, it is still very hard to fully belong in a society that does not accept everyone for who they are, regardless of sexuality. The “lights” represent the strengthened bisexual community in the past few years that has emerged and the “dark” represents the many haters that still discriminate today. Another device Styles implements into his writing is repetition. Throughout “Lights Up,” the word “shine” is repeated from the beginning to the end of the song. This word resembles the idea that if one is bisexual, they should take pride in coming out and embrace that part of their human condition. The word “shine” has a positive connotation to it, bringing a sense of belonging and happiness to the topic. Repeating “shine” emphasizes the importance of believing in oneself before anyone else does. Another poetic device, allusion, is used when Styles writes that “I’m not ever going back” (19). This phrase is written throughout the song and alludes to never regretting coming out. Since sexuality has been an avoided topic for so many years, this refers to continuing the progress we have made as a society in accepting conversations about bisexuality. When dealing with difficult aspects of the human condition, it is necessary to have confidence and Styles’ song reminds his audience of this. “Lights Up” contains various poetic devices that highlight the theme of bisexuality as a part of our culture today and how music can connect one another to ethics and morality in our society.

Accepting bisexuality has begun to change how we engrave it in our culture and perceive the world. In another one of Styles’ songs, “Medicine,” he further demonstrates this theme. “Medicine” resembles the idea of accepting that one can be different from the “norm” of society. Since the human condition has positives and negatives, understanding how to deal with both is a very important skill. When life makes one feel out of place, one must remember that although humans all have emotions, conflicts, and growth, they all come in different forms. The human condition brings out different types of struggles in all people. Self-acceptance regarding sexuality allows one to grow into a stronger being and handle conflict more effectively. In the journal “MUSIC AND ETHICS” by A. E. Winship, he writes that “music is the sunlight of hope” (1). The meaning behind this is that music allows artists the opportunity to paint a picture of how society should be. Styles does this by showing that he accepts bisexuality through the lyrics of his song. Also, Winship asks whether “music [has] an ethical value?” (2). By asking this question, Winship is proposing that music has the power to change how people act in society. Using modern songs to encourage empathy and resilience when discussing sexuality proves that music relates to ethics. “Medicine” contains various poetic devices to capture the theme of accepting bisexuality. Styles uses personification when he writes “Tingle running through my bones / The boys and the girls are in” (17-18). Using this device illustrates that both genders affect how he is feeling. The “tingle” resulting from the girls and boys represents how bisexuality is part of who someone is, not a choice that someone makes. The use of the personal pronoun “I” is another technique Styles uses to get his theme across. He shows his acceptance of bisexuality through writing “I mess around with him / And I’m okay with it” (Styles 19-20). Implementing “I” into these lines helps his audience see that self-acceptance is a very significant skill. When Styles claims that he is happy with himself, it encourages his fans to accept themselves and realize that bisexuality is now a huge part of our culture. Another example of a poetic device is the use of a metaphor when Styles writes that “I got me an appetite; now I can taste it” (12). This resembles the transition into accepting one’s sexuality while discovering oneself. The “it” at the end of the line represents finally coming out and being okay with that process. Coming out is a relieving process that many people experience as part of their human condition. Acceptance and pride are two aspects of the human condition required to be at peace with oneself, and Styles’ “Medicine” greatly demonstrates this using many poetic devices to focus on the theme of accepting bisexuality.

Harry Styles is a positive icon in the music industry that many people look up to due to his open conversations about sexuality and bisexuality in our culture. Although Styles himself has not come out as bisexual and prefers to keep his personal life private, he does not refrain from sharing his views through his writing and encouraging others to be prideful in themselves. This new generation that is emerging needs more writers such as Styles to continue the social growth and progression we are currently going through. Bisexuality is a very significant topic that needs more recognition and attention. Coming out and being accepting needs to be shared because it is what makes people feel connected with each other when they can share similar experiences. The human condition of feelings, sexuality, love, and confidence are elements that all people share in different forms. It is important to remember that one is not alone when dealing with these elements because they allow people to bring their true selves to light and shape unique human beings who have the power to stand up for their beliefs and make a change in the world.

Works Cited

Higgins, Kathleen M. “Connecting Music to Ethics.” College Music Society, 2018.

Winship, E. A. “MUSIC AND ETHICS.” Sage Publications, Inc., 1913.

Myers, Owen. “Two Directions: Why Harry Styles' New Song Is a Breakthrough for Bisexual Music Fans.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 22 Mar. 2018, www.theguardian.com/music/2018/mar/22/both-directions-why-harry-styles-new-song-is-a-breakthrough-for-bisexual-music-fans.

Wong, Curtis M. “Fans Say Harry Styles' New Song, 'Lights Up,' Is A 'Bisexual Bop'.” HuffPost, HuffPost, 11 Oct. 2019, www.huffpost.com/entry/harry-styles-lights-up-music-video_n_5da0910ae4b02c9da049a38.