My spiral into Larry started with Harry.
I’ve always been the epitome of the “fangirl” model. Show me a piece of art or an artist I can fall in love with, proudly throw my support behind, and I’m all in. Unfortunately for me, during the height of One Direction’s reign over the world, I was just on the wrong side of my boy band phase. N*SYNC, Backstreet Boys, LFO, 98° – my generation saw the thick of boy band fever. An entire wall of my pre-teen bedroom paid tribute to my love for N*SYNC, in particular. As with most things geared toward young girls, the boy band craze was widely mocked, as were the fans themselves. Pretty mercilessly. It became a trend in pop culture, which remains true even now. Radio, television, even movies all became platforms to poke fun. Vocal fans got bullied: the girls for being hysterical, boy crazed fanatics, the boys for not conforming to the teenage ideals of hegemonic masculinity. Both for their bad taste in music.
By the time 1D rocketed into existence, I’d left the world of “boy bands” behind. I knew they existed, obviously, because everyone did, 1D was EVERYWHERE then. My younger cousin would gush over them and I’d just scoff in that pretentious way teenagers do, thinking myself so much more mature for possessing an emo kid heart, for being detached and ambivalent about everything outside the bubble of my own angst.
Fortunately for me, the folly of youth doesn’t have to define adulthood. While I remain an emo kid to my very core, I’ve also learned to embrace all the other things about myself and the things that bring me joy, things that make me who I am. Including boy bands and pop music.
Falling in love with Harry was easy. Not only was he ever-present in pop culture, his sense of humor, unapologetic self-expression, and inherent kindness made him someone I couldn’t get enough of, even when his face was already everywhere I looked.
When the pandemic hit, I, like everyone else, spent all my time at home. Harry’s music had already drawn me in. Scouring YouTube for any bit of him I could find was the logical progression of my hyperfixation. Eventually, I managed to work my way through every clip, every video of Harry as a solo artist, and my adoration was set in stone.
At that point, I was aware of Larry Stylinson. Really, it was impossible not to be. To be honest, however, I was reluctant to look into it. I wanted to know more about Harry’s journey, though, and One Direction was a massive part of that. It was the launchpad for his career, after all. The more I learned, the more convinced I was that Louis in particular played a huge roll in Harry’s growth. So, ultimately, I decided just dipping my toes into the 1D era was necessary, if I wanted to know more about how Harry became the person he became.
Falling for 1D was almost as easy as falling for Harry. It was almost impossible not to, once I started watching them in action. What quickly became apparent to me, though, was that, despite the obvious connection and brotherhood between all the boys, Harry and Louis were something else altogether. It baffled me how anyone could see them together and not see that.
I went through a similar journey with Louis as the one I’d already embarked on with Harry. Consuming every bit of media available just to keep admiring him, to keep learning about who he was. I was hooked on Louis’ particular brand of soft chaos. His endless supportiveness, his kindness and sass, the sweet little giggles and way he refused to let anyone dim his shine.
At that point, it was time to start digging. I knew there was an entire section of the 1D fandom that believed Larry were together, and despite any initial hesitancy, I felt compelled to compare my own observations with what fandom had been seeing for ages. Was it actually real? Could it be? I had to know!
The deeper I dug, the more obvious it became. There were a small handful of “proofs” that truly tipped the scales, and by that point, I was already in far too deep. I adored Harry and Louis, together and as separate entities, but I also just absolutely loved One Direction. I’d downloaded all their albums, individually and as a band, watched every MV, every TV appearance, every performance. I’d even taken to watching edits and compilations, just so I could keep seeing all of these boys. I was officially a stan.
Originally, I intended to make a 1D Twitter account just to keep up with the boys. I didn’t want to miss anything. Fandom pulled me in pretty quickly, though. It was hard not to let myself fall into this space, into these people who felt the same way I did. Who saw what I saw, who loved the same things about the boys and the band that I did.
Fandom isn’t always an easy place to exist. There are hard days, times when it feels like all we do is argue, when bullying becomes prevalent. But fandom is so much more than that. It’s community. It’s finding a place to be ourselves, to loudly love what we love, and find people who love just as loudly. There isn’t anything in the world quite like the feeling of knowing there are people out there who understand, who see you, and support you. Who like you, not in spite of who you are, but because of it.
It’s been a year now since I found my corner of fandom. Nearly twice that since I found Louis and the rest of 1D. Longer still since finding Harry. And despite the rough patches and difficult periods, I can’t imagine ever finding myself anywhere else.