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Proud Direction

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article by: bessrose28

While the name Michael Sam might not have made a lasting impact on most fans of American Football, he nevertheless made an impact. In 2014, Michael Sam became the first openly gay player drafted to the NFL when he became the seventh round draft pick of the St. Louis Rams. Even a decade later, he is still one of less than two dozen players who are (or have been) queer. Now, why all this talk of American Football in a magazine about the entertainment industry? Because of one Mr. Harry Styles, of course. On August 27th, 2014, One Direction performed in St. Louis for their Where We Are Tour. For that show, Harry chose a Michael Sam jersey to wear and the Internet exploded. Everyone was talking about the choice of someone in one of the biggest bands on the planet to show such open and clear support. Michael Sam himself even tweeted thanking Harry for his support.

Interestingly enough, this series of events only briefly predated the rise of another intriguing choice by Harry regarding American Football jerseys. Harry is a massive fan of the Green Bay Packers. How big you might ask? In addition to sporting the teams logo as a tattoo, Harry rarely if ever wears a jersey for any American Football team besides the Packers. When One Direction took photos to promote the American leg of their On The Road Again Tour in 2015, all the other members wore a different jersey corresponding to each of the cities the tour would be visiting. While Harry can be seen holding the jerseys infront of himself or even wrapping them around himself, it was very noticeable to many fans that he was rarely wearing them properly. While we may never know the real reason he did this (maybe he was tired and just decided he didn’t want to put on and take off so many jerseys), a popular theory is that Harry prefers not to be seen supporting teams other than his own. Even though this theory does not seem to have existed yet when he chose to wear the Michael Sam jersey, given how close together the two events occurred makes it possible that this “rule” was already in effect. If so, that would make Harry’s choice to don this particular jersey even more notable and intentional than it already was.

Later that same year, on October 30th, there was another notable coming out that garnered significant attention. Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple since 2011, came out as gay, becoming the first openly gay CEO of a Fortunate 500 company. A little over a week later, Louis was seen entering a recording studio wearing a t-shirt with the original rainbow Apple logo from the 70s. Allegedly, this rainbow design was chosen in connection with the launch of the Apple II, the company’s second model which launched in 1977, as a nod to the impressive range of color capabilities the device possessed. While the company’s logo eventually evolved to a monochrome version, the rainbow design remained popular as a vintage design. Given how recently Cook’s coming out had occurred, many took Louis’ choice to be seen wearing this particular shirt as a sign of his support for Cook. However, it seemed that someone did not like people making that connection. Louis (or more likely someone else logged into his account) tweeted at the author of one of the articles praising Louis with the now infamous “I am in fact straight” tweet.

Fans were quick to point out that this response was strange and actually didn’t make much sense. While the article had discussed Louis and queerness, there was never any implication from these media sources that his choice to wear the shirt was meant as a reflection of his own sexuality. In short, Louis was refuting a claim that nobody had been making. While some were quick to label this reaction as a sign that Louis was homophobic, many fans highlighted the disconnect between the tweet and Louis’ usual behaviour regarding the LGBTQ+ community. While we may never have explicit confirmation of why the choice to post that tweet was made, it is most often chalked up to being yet another botched attempt at a denial. Similarly, we may never know if Louis’ choice to wear that rainbow Apple shirt was meant as a show of support for Tim Cook or if it was merely a coincidence, but I personally choose to believe the former. For me, that explanation aligns most closely with the kind of person I know Louis to be, someone who does his best to show support where he can, even if it’s in small and seemingly simple ways.

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