A rainbow apple, a flag, and why small gestures of acceptance are important to the One Direction fandom

One year ago today Louis Tomlinson wore an Apple t-shirt showing his support for CEO Tim Cook after he publicly addressed his sexuality in a letter at the end of October.

It’s important to celebrate events and anniversaries like this; where Louis was able to show his support to the LGBTQ+ community, because in large Louis has a rep for being the least vocal about supporting equal love due to “fan created Larry Stylinson”.  This is an outrageous claim but one the media has made on numerous occasions and one that still get’s way more publicity than it’s due.

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Louis’ large heart and acts of kindness often go unrecognized in the media today.  Not only is Louis attacked for being close minded or meant to seem like less of a caring adult and more of a party boy young star, other members of the band are treated much the same.

Liam gave an interview earlier this year with Attitude Magazine that received a lot of negative backlash and someone close to the boys even admitted that Liam had no idea how the answers to his questions would be arranged in the magazine, he didn’t see the final copy, and if he had – the friend of the band was certain Liam would have said some things a little bit differently.

This showcased the way that the boys are put under a microscope and have their words twisted after they’ve come out of their mouths into things they never meant to say in the first place.

We decided to take this anniversary of his very obvious support – days after Harry made a gesture of support to the LGBTQ+ community and himself alike when he answered “Not that important” to the remark of female being an important trait in a partner –  and use a fan story to talk about why acts like this are so important to One Direction fans.

Recently a One Direction fan Brandon shared his story with me and I was waiting for the right time to share it with all of you.  With Louis, with Harry, Liam, Niall and hopefully their friends and family.

Today, a year after Louis made an important gesture, and in the middle of media frenzy surrounding One Direction, it seemed like the perfect time.

“I joined this fandom in 2011-12 and for awhile I wasn’t really sure what the boys’ stance was on the LGBT community. (But I didn’t think any of them were homophobic or anything) I have been in and out of the fandom due to feeling like maybe it was a little weird for me to be here since I’m a guy and everything. I remember when Liam said that thing about Duck Dynasty I was pretty upset because I didn’t know what else he could have meant by “family values”.

After that Attitude article came out, I felt hurt all over again but something about it kind of seemed off to me (because I had seen Liam when rainbow flags around – and he looked very happy, not bothered) so it’s just constant bullsh*t article after bullsh*t article. (Now I know better to be wary of articles that are posted that paint negative pictures of the boys because I know they all have hearts of gold – especially Harry)

As far as things goes for recently, I have heard that Louis has corrected the other boys’ when one of them had used the wrong pronouns for certain fans who were trans, like me.  I don’t know if that’s true but hearing that definitely made me happy.  Louis wearing the rainbow shirt to support Apple was also important as it reflected the entire LGBTQ+ community. With Harry’s very open support of the community through his own words and even seeing videos and gifs of him with the rainbow flags and seeing Liam smiling in the background, I haven’t felt the need to hide who I am in this fandom anymore. I no longer worry that the boys might think it’s weird that I am in this fandom. I no longer fear how other people in this fandom will feel about me. I have never actually been harassed or bothered for being a guy in this fandom, and all of my worrying was just all in my head and it all had to do with how I felt about my own self. I know that the boys support all
of us and I think that’s very important especially for those who really need the support, like younger LGBT kids in this community.

I just never thought I’d feel so close to a fandom like this before or that I would be able to be myself.

It’s been a long 5 years for me, which is how long I have been transitioning. I have been on hormones for almost half a year and am finally starting to feel comfortable in my own skin.”

So by nothing else than kind gestures by band mates in One Direction – a fan felt comfortable enough in this environment to share his story with me, with all of our readers and to anyone who hopefully knows the boys and can vouch for their kindness and how they definitely are the boys that we know and love; not the media circulated cardboard cut outs we’re meant to believe are true versions of themselves.

In a world where a photo of a partying Louis, Liam, Niall, or Harry gets circulated and posted with just about any headline involving ” ____ stays out all night” or “___ goes home in a car full of ladies” or even “____ is disrespectful as he stays out all night”; it’s nice that fans are willing to stand up not only for themselves but for the boys and show everyone just how much of a family we’ve all become, just how much we all care about one another, and just how much strength we draw from the boys – and in turn – how much they draw from us.

So thank you Harry, Liam, Niall, and Louis for openly supporting all love, but more than that, all people.  Thank you for letting fans know that regardless of who we are, if we come to you with open loving hearts you’ll show that right back to us.  Thank you for setting examples and showing that to even people who don’t quite deserve it, thus giving us the courage to do the same.

More than any of that – thank you for making the fandom a safe place to just be ourselves.  Thank you for loving your male fans as much as your female fans, your gay fans as much as your straight fans, for accepting bisexuality as a sexuality – not a trend – and for being the beautiful, loving, kindhearted young men you all are which gives us courage to be ourselves too.

You’ve truly made this fandom feel like home; and for some fans; this is the only home where safety and love are found.

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Thank you for this, and for a million other things.  We won’t be forgetting it any time soon.

Written by Ashley

Writer, coffee drinker, mother.