Amid Victoria’s second lockdown I have decided to become a One Direction fan. You might think this is strange for a 23-year-old to become a ‘Directioner’, especially since the band formed in 2010 and broke up four years ago. But let me explain myself.  

While Harry, Zayn, Niall, Louis and Liam were competing on X Factor I was starting high school. Going to an all-boys catholic school, I learnt very quickly there are certain things you are expected to take an interest in like sports, girls, and violent video games. Meanwhile, boy bands made up of four attractive English boys and an attractive Irish boy was something you were expected to avoid. The only times you could bring up things like One Direction at school was to discuss how talentless or gay they were.

“They’re just a bunch of faggots who probably jerk each other off. I don’t know why girls like them so much.” said one of my acne ridden classmates who reeked of Lynx Africa.

Even though I watched a couple of clips of One Direction performing on YouTube and enjoyed what I saw, both talent and looks wise, I refused to take an active interest in their music. I feared that liking them would confirm that I was gay, which at the time seemed like the worst thing to be.

 So instead of  buying all the One Direction albums and merch, going to their concerts and trying to hack into airport security to watch them sitting around waiting to board their plane, I decided to seek other interests like AFL, The Hunger Games and anything else I thought would make people think I was straight. While I did enjoy talking about last night’s football match and what district I wanted to be in if I lived in Panem, I also think I would have enjoyed talking about One Direction and their new music and what antics the boys were up to if I allowed myself to join the fandom.

But I didn’t, and to make sure I never found myself in those types of conversations I made a conscious effort to avoid listening to One Direction wherever I could. If I did hear one of their songs come on at a party I would roll my eyes and pretend I hated dancing along. I would also poke fun at my female friends who were Directioner’s for discussing things like which members of One Direction I would ship together and how heartbreaking it was when Zayn left the band.

“They’re just a dumb boy band, ” I would say. “They’re not even that good.”

Despite my efforts to convince them and myself of what I was saying was true, deep down underneath all the internalised homophobia, teenage angst and other insecurities, I knew it wasn’t. I knew I wanted to be a part of their fandom.

 Unfortunately, One Direction was not the only interest I avoided when I was younger. There were many other bands, artists, books, tv shows and movies I stayed away from out of fear of being perceived as gay. I think the queerest thing I invested myself in while at school was Glee, but I was very selective about who I told this.

However, now that I am out of high school and comfortable with my sexuality, I have decided to use this time in lockdown reclaim the queer youth I deprived myself of when I was a teenager. And that starts with One Direction. So, for the remainder of this lockdown I will be listening to all the One Direction songs, reading all the Larry fanfiction and taking all the One Direction related BuzzFeed quizzes in the pursuit of becoming a member of the Directioner fanbase.

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