Harry Styles gave a polarizing interview with Better Homes & Gardens during which he opened up about how his personal life and sexuality have been scrutinized ever since he went solo with his first album.
In the interview, the 28-year-old and former One Direction singer reflected on how much pressure he put on himself to continuously gain the public's approval of him being a "likable person."
Based on social media reactions, it appears he still has his work cut out for him.
He told the magazine he used to worry about accidentally saying the wrong thing in interviews and being put on blast for it and about how relieved he would be instead of happy when good things happened–like a number one album.
Styles also mentioned the "cleanliness clause" he and his former boyband mates used to sign that would dictate their contracts being null and void if they did anything that was "supposedly unsavory."
Styles disclosed he meets with a therapist and has recently been working through his issues relating to intimacy and dating.
"For a long time, it felt like the only thing that was mine was my sex life," said the singer–whose third solo album, Harry's House, drops next month.
"I felt so ashamed about it, ashamed at the idea of people even knowing that I was having sex, let alone who with."
"At the time, there were still the kiss-and-tell things. Working out who I could trust was stressful," continued Styles.
"But I think I got to a place where I was like, why do I feel ashamed? I'm a 26-year-old man who's single; it's like, yes, I have sex."
When he finally signed his solo contract and discovered he could make music without being affected by his personal transgressions, he unexpectedly burst into tears, according to the magazine.
"I felt free," he said.
Styles faced scrutiny about his sexuality around the time of his second studio album, Fine Line, in 2019.
He wore gender-bending fashion and posed in a Gucci gown as the first solo male to grace the cover of Vogue magazine, which drew the ire of gay, gender-fluid fashion icon Billy Porter–who has since apologized to Styles after saying Porter "created the conversation [about gender-fluid fashion] and yet Vogue still put Harry Styles, a straight White man, in a dress on their cover for the first time."
Far-right political commentator Candace Owens was less apologetic when she encouraged toxic masculinity with her "bring back manly men" comment on Twitter in response to the historic Vogue shoot.
While the conversation about his ostentatious fashion became a viral talking point, Styles has remained cryptic about his sexual preference with journalists and on social media whenever they would question who he was sleeping with.
Styles said the expectation of labeling sexuality was "outdated."
"I've been really open with it with my friends, but that's my personal experience; it's mine," he said.
"The whole point of where we should be heading, which is toward accepting everybody and being more open, is that it doesn't matter, and it's about not having to label everything, not having to clarify what boxes you're checking."
People had passionate opinions on his statement about not being labeled.
Some accused the singer of queerbaiting.
Those who were blind to the issue spoke out in defense of the pop megastar.
For the past couple of years, Styles has been linked to actress Olivia Wilde–who directed him in her upcoming thriller, Don't Worry Darling.
Her name was noticeably absent from the Better Homes & Garden interview.
In spite of everything, the modern rock star emphasized he didn't want to appear ungrateful, defensive or angry.
The interview concluded with him saying he feels lucky every day to be able to make music and do what he loves.