The story of how I figured out my sexuality isn’t filled with much drama. I’ve never really felt like I didn’t belong, that I was different or that something was missing, and when the puzzle pieces fell into place, it didn’t take me all that long to come to terms with it. It is, however, a pretty interesting story, if I do say so myself, because what led me to figure out I’m attracted to both men and women is a boyband that has always been marketed towards heterosexual teenage girls.
Because while heterosexual teenage girls do make up a large part of One Direction’s fanbase – and let’s stop pretending there’s anything wrong with that – One Direction also has loads of LGBT+ fans. Often forgotten by the people running the brand that is One Direction, the role this group of fans plays in the band’s success is just as big, if not bigger. And, equally important, they are just as vocal.
One of the ways in which the queer fans of 1D have used their voice is through Rainbow Direction – an organisation that aims to make the One Direction fandom a safe and enjoyable space for LGBT+ fans. They do so, among other things, by educating their followers on LGBT+ issues on various social media platforms and by organising meet-ups ahead of 1D concerts, where fans of all gender identities and sexualities are able to hang out in a safe environment.
As someone who thoroughly enjoys meeting fellow One Direction fans, it made sense for me to go to those Rainbow Direction meet ups. I wasn’t expecting some sort of big sexual revelation to take place there. I was sure I was straight, although I had always been able to find women attractive – but that was just my eye for aesthetics, I told myself.
The conversations taking place at those Rainbow Direction hangouts were, unsurprisingly, not just about what setlist changes fans were hoping for that night or whether Harry Styles’ foot was still broken. At these meet ups, fans also discussed various issues the queer community faces, including heteronormativity, and that was what got me questioning things.
I asked myself whether I would still be dating exclusively men if I lived in a society where same-sex relationships would be as accepted as heterosexual ones. The answer was a decisive ‘no’. I realised that I was able to fall in love with women – I just hadn’t let myself go there, for the truly lousy reason that it would be a lot more inconvenient than falling in love with a guy.
After that, the things that the members of One Direction do for their LGBT+ fans meant just a little bit more to me. Harry Styles running around with rainbow flags nearly every night, Louis Tomlinson wearing a rainbow shirt on stage (though some fans were quick to say that it was a Jamaican flag – let’s not get into that discussion), Niall Horan vocalising his support for same-sex marriage in Ireland and Liam Payne lighting up when he saw my rainbow sign, it all got a bit more important.
And then there was “Home”, a song that quickly became an anthem for One Direction’s LGBT+ fans. It’s indescribable how reassuring it is to have a band as big as 1D write a song about coming to terms with your sexuality, telling their listeners that “it’s alright”.
In between Rainbow Direction, “Home” and the members of One Direction being so openly supportive of the LGBT+ community, I have a lot to thank them for. If it wasn’t for them, I would still be thinking I was a heterosexual girl with an amazing eye for aesthetics – and I’m really glad I’m not.