Monday, 8 July 2013

Larry Stylinson and the Art of Coming Out

Larry Stylinson is a fascinating study for everyone in coming out as a gay man.

A fascinating study for the straight community to understand the process and the pressures, and a fascinating study for people to pause and re-acquaint themselves with the truth that circumstantial evidence doesn’t equal proof.

Larry Stylinson may or may not exist. This soul mate name-mash may have been born of two young men from a new generation, a generation beyond the metro-sexual, a generation who understands that two men can have a close, loving and supportive relationship without it being sexual or threaten their sexuality.

If they are in a relationship, platonic or otherwise, it could very possibly be one exclusive of any other male relationship they’ll seek out or need for the rest of their lives. They may have simply been the right person at the right time for each other and have fallen in love as a convergence of events that will never ever happen again for either of them. 

If you don’t know who Larry is, you’re not a ‘Directioner’. If you don’t believe he exists you’re not a ‘Larry Shipper’. What the hell am I talking about? The ongoing bromance between Harry Styles and Louis Tomlinson of One Direction, of course! Whether it is fact or fan-fiction, I think it is laugh out loud funny – to a point.

The greatness of fans and the internet have created a wonderful conspiracy theory and named him Larry Stylinson – and long may he reign! The fans who love One Direction want their ‘boys’ to be happy. They’ve spotted something between Harry and Louis that is undeniably there – and their generous fans are more than willing to give up hope of having these two for themselves in order for the boys to have their happiness together. Awwww!

The story goes that Harry and Louis are boyfriends, deeply in love and have been since they first met on X factor as solo artists. It was there they were dismissed from the show in heartbreaking, dream shattering scenes, only to be brought back as a group of five failed soloists and thrown into a boy band. The rest, as they say, is history.

The reason I’ve decided to blog about the rumour and the huge amount of very persuasive supporting ‘evidence’ compiled by fans, is that the rumour is based on no hard facts. Every argument that supports their relationship can also be easily dismissed as nothing more than two young men who are clearly very close.  

Whether they are in a relationship or not it is their business and I thought I would use the situation as an example of the journey of coming out and the pressures applied from outside that do more harm than good, even from the best meaning of people.

I think Ugly Betty got it about right with the flamboyant younger brother, Justin. We all knew he was gay from the beginning – that was the joke. But he didn’t know, or didn’t care to know or more realistically, wasn’t ready to know and his family let his overt tendency go uncommented – until he told them he was gay. They let him take his journey in his time. Good parenting that!

Recently at a dinner with one of my oldest friends I was told she was angry at me years ago, when I suddenly disappeared and withdrew from her life. I had to. I had to disappear from everyone and everything to sort my own mind out. I came out when I was twenty two. I told my parents who reacted by spending the next ten years trying to keep me in the closet to all their friends and our relatives. It was unfair to have to go through all that. It was also the most traumatic, bravest, scariest and most liberating thing I’ve ever had to do.

As the former captain of my high school football team I could have very easily stayed in the closet and no one would have known my secret – except me. 

My journey was forced on me by my nature. It came to a head when I met a guy who made everything else seem trivial. We tried and failed to deny the attraction, then became boyfriends in the most closeted relationship anyone could imagine. We rented a house, set up separate bedrooms and went to great lengths to prove to anyone and everyone we were no more than housemates.

Twelve months later the relationship came to an end, partially because we’d never allowed ourselves to be a real couple anywhere but behind closed doors. It was just too tiring and placed too much strain on us both. A few months later I told my parents I was gay and re-booted my life. Scott 2.0 if you will.

Internally there were many things I still had to overcome. Society schools young men to think of being gay in negative terms. If I need to explain any of those issues then you’re not paying attention to the world we live in, the language that gets used or the casual homophobia that is still generations away from being removed from society, often from even being recognized or acknowledged, and it’s all part of the pressure a gay person has to bear when coming out.

Just last year my eight year old niece came running down the driveway of my mother’s house after a family dinner and she was screaming at me that – “Nanny called you gay!” She yelled this a couple a times in hysterics. To my niece it was the funniest thing she’d ever heard. Her Nan, the most proper woman in the world, had called me the same name this eight year old girl and her playmates use to insult each other in the playground every day. The same word they use to dismiss things that are stupid or lame, a word that has no meaning to her except as a negative for everything. Thanks Katie Perry et al.

So that’s where we’re at even in the most enlightened societies. And yes, there are many people who have evolved and certain areas of many cities that are welcoming and safe for gays to be themselves, but there are too many examples where this is still not the case.

The thing to remember about coming out is that it is a personal issue. No matter how much you may wish your relative, your friend or in this case, singing idols to come out. If they are not ready internally, if they are not comfortable, strong enough, assured enough and comfortable with declaring to the world a secret that they have been forced to keep and told in so many ways for so many years is a negative and something to be ashamed of, then they shouldn’t and can’t come out on someone else’s terms. It does more harm than good. Coming out is a personal process not a group activity.
A gay person needs to take that personal, inner journey in their own time, and there is a lot of emotion involved, a little like the seven stages of grief – and in some ways I guess it is a process of giving up who you have been to start again, finally being true to yourself first and then to the rest of the world. And this includes breaking free of any outside influences that may be trying to encourage you to keep things a secret – it’s all part of the same negativity telling you for a variety of reasons that coming out will make your life worse and not better. It’s never true by the way – it does, always get better.

For me it initially involved anger at myself and the world for making me gay, hatred even, but slowly, through a process of self discovery and self belief, that anger turned from being inward shame to being projected out – and eventually building to the biggest ‘fuck you’ moment imaginable where I came out and declared who I really was for the first time. I was hurt by those who didn’t accept me, but by then was strong enough to cut them loose from my life – that’s a healthy journey to being out and proud.

Now back to Larry; if Harry Styles and Louis Tomlinson are together, they’ll choose the time. Amassing all the ‘proof’ and ‘evidence’ about their touches, looks, ‘togetherness’ is great fun. Do it on a website, or tumblr or a blog. At least there, if the boys look at it it’s their choice – but stay away from twitter. Twitter is the same as driving around town in a car with your friends and yelling things at people out the window as you speed by. They don’t know who you are, but your words reach them and are felt.

The biggest problem I have with Larry is – what if it’s not true?

The innuendo and bullying via Twitter is unfair, the cheering for it to be true based on circumstantial evidence actually hurts the gay community. If two straight guys who really like each other cannot express themselves in any way they choose without being labeled gay, then it encourages homophobia. If guys can’t hold hands, or touch, or walk close without people labeling them gay, then those natural feelings and instincts get repressed, hidden and denied. That’s how homophobia is born. It makes expressing affection taboo, something to be scared of and avoided and it certainly continues the cycle.

And why can’t Harry and Louis just be best friends? Friends who like to grab and squeeze each other at every opportunity? Friends who enjoy a cheeky smack in the balls, tickle to the arm or peck on the cheek? Why can’t their matching and labeled stuffed toys and security blankets just indicate friendship? And what if they do have matching lock and key tattoos? And other Tattoos that seem suspiciously split between them both; a cage on one, birds on the other. A quote on one’s wrist, quotation marks on the other’s wrist. What if Harry has a coat hanger tattoo? And what about the stolen kisses and the way they both stare at each other with such pride and caring, or the way Louis always helps Harry with his clothes or hair….. hmmmm?

I’ve looked at a lot of footage and read a lot of the arguments for and against Larry and I have to say – they are, at very least, the most secure straight men I have ever seen. It’s really hard not to notice genuine affection towards another. It’s the little things…. Ahem… that give a person away. Those things you do when no one else is looking that can’t be faked. These two have plenty of those moments.

My straight mates look at a girl passing like they’re taking a breath. I notice their glances, their comments, it’s instinctive for them, it’s a reflex. I know because for twenty two years I was on guard, vowing not to let those little things slip out of my mouth … ahem…in public…. And that’s the one thing that makes me pause on the whole Larry Stylinson theory.

There are so many moments between Harry and Louis that are unguarded and uncensored. They wear their feelings for each other on their sleeves. But isn’t that the hole in this story? If these boys are together, or one or both is bi or gay, wouldn’t they hide things better? Why are they so overt? 

A gay person who is yet to come out is paranoid about everything they say and do and have trained themselves not to let those impulses out – until they are ready to come out. These boys have not changed their behavior from day one, so unless they were ready and brave enough to out themselves at sixteen, the whole Larry story doesn’t ring true.

And look at footage of the whole band; there are equally as many moments these two share with others that are intimate and caring, as there are between the other members of the band. As much as I think Larry is fun, I prefer to believe these guys are secure enough to be a new generation of role models to other young people. A new breed so confident in themselves they can admit and show sexuality isn’t black and white. That to have feelings for a best friend of the same sex, feelings that allow for caring, pride, admiration and yes, even genuine love, is absolutely okay?

How wonderful to think that’s all it is between them. Wouldn’t that make them worthy of all the attention they’re getting, far above some closeted secret? They’re brave enough to show the world there’s nothing wrong with a public show of affection towards another and good for them because this world needs more hugs!

To me the appeal of these five is they seem like genuinely nice 19/20 year olds. What many fans are seeing as gay ‘tells’ seem more like five guys spending a lot of time blowing off steam by being stupid, loveable dicks, like every other 19/20 year old on the planet.

After watching everyone’s ‘proof’, the only thing I know for sure is I am jealous; jealous that I’ve never had friendships as strong or as genuinely caring, even loving of each other, as these five guys seem to have. And yes, Harry and Louis seem closer than any of them, but you always have favourites. Their popularity will be, in a large part, because of this genuine shared love for each other – you can’t fake it. There’s no dominant egos, they enjoy and admire each other performing and look out for each other, on stage, in interviews, even with their appearance. That’s a very endearing quality.   

Larry Stylinson is still funny. It’s up there with Area 51 and the Paul is dead hoax. But they’ve said Larry doesn’t exist so that should be accepted – leave it as an ‘in joke’ and let them play to it, which is what I think is more likely to have been the source of all this.

Now if these boys would stop piss farting around so much and spend their time writing their own songs, then I suspect the nerves, the worries and self doubts of how their first penned songs will be received would give them an insight into how it really feels to come out. Good luck with that. 

Scott Norton Taylor on twitter: @norton_scott
Read the novels by Scott here.

Scott Norton Taylor - Inner City - Ebook for Kindle, Epub Sony, Palm or online!

Reviews: From Amazon

5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome read May 27, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Amazon Verified Purchase
This book was so intriguing I hardly put it down. Wonderfully written it does not linger on any 
one event nor does it speed through scenes making it a poor read. The characters were well 
thought out and the inner turmoils they all face are far from dull.

5.0 out of 5 stars Spectacular April 5, 2013
By Jack
Format:Kindle Edition|Amazon Verified Purchase
The book was simply amazing it had action romance and just enough drama to make me happy 
one of the best books I have ever read

From Barnes and Noble - Nook Books:

Posted December 1, 2012

 Great read.

A story filled with with love, hate, violence, peace and so much more. 538 pages of wondering what will happen 
next. A FULL story from start to finish. Thanks to the author for sharing a great work with the readers.

Posted July 8, 2012
 Couldn't put it down...
For this to have been a free book, it was wonderful. The author keeps you on the edge of your seat. I couldn't 
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Posted April 20, 2012


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Posted April 5, 2012

 This book is AWESOME! it keeps you wanting to read the entire ti

This book is AWESOME! it keeps you wanting to read the entire time. It tells of 2 worlds, and both are 
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