For anyone who knows me, they know there was a time where I would really only listen to One Direction. To be completely fair, I was at boarding school at the time and we were only allowed iPod Shuffles and One Direction was one of the few things my sister put on there that I actually enjoyed listening to. One Direction didn’t just come with music but it also came with their infamous fandom and they were quite an intense fandom at that. One of the things “Directioners” were the most divisive and intense parts of the Directioner fandom was the issue of “Larry”, or the idea that One Direction members Harry Styles and Larry Tomlinson were secretly in a relationship. For many, it was just a fun idea to entertain but not everyone approached it that way which caused a lot of problems for Harry and Louis. But the idea of Larry can be a very harmful idea that can affect more than just Directioners and Harry and Louis.
The boys of One Direction were always very close and affectionate. There are hours of footage from concerts and interviews of the One Direction boys cuddling, hugging snuggling and just be affectionate overall. More than that, there are many videos and text posts on the internet analyzing these things when it comes specifically to “Larry.” As the idea of Larry became more pervasive, the boys sometimes were asked to speak about it and they often expressed their discomfort with the whole thing. At one point, Harry and Louis lived together but eventually, that ended due to Larry.
In a world filled with toxic masculinity, something that may seem like good fun like Larry can instead be problematic. Equating male intimacy in friendships as an indication of a gay relationship reinforces our harmful view of what masculinity must look like. Women and girls are often very affection and intimate within platonic friendships so why shouldn’t men be? Being close like that can add a whole new and fulfilling dimension within a friendship and Larry prevented Harry and Louis, at least for a period of time, from being able to explore it.
One Direction was so often a great example of a good, young, unproblematic boys. They were young and had a few slip-ups as we all do when we are young but, were always willing to listen and learn. They embodied such pure intention and wholesome energy. They often set a great example of what boys their age could be. Instead of putting masculinity in a box, as the Larry fandom did, let the One Direction be an example of how masculinity can be explored and redefined.