Larry Is Real

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Synonyms:
See also: larrie, Tinhats and the Fourth Wall, Rainbow Direction
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My first real crush was Louis Tomlinson. It's mutual, we've discussed it. Although the subtitles on some Tumblr gifs are fictional, Harry Styles really did say this in 2011. Most people took it as a joke but many Larries interpreted this and similar statements from Harry, Louis and their families as either the truth or as attempts to hide the truth behind jokes.[1]

In One Direction fandom, shippers like to say, usually half-jokingly, that their slash ship "is real". However, an unknown percentage of fans who ship Harry/Louis aka H/L aka Larry really believe it when they say that "Larry is real".

Many Larry shippers on Tumblr and Twitter have combed through massive amounts of publicly available information (everything from interviews to candid photos to song lyrics to tattoos[2] to insider anons) to find evidence that Harry Styles and Louis Tomlinson were, and continue to be, boyfriends in real life. As the theory goes, One Direction's management company (Modest! Management) has forced them to remain closeted because gay bandmembers would bring down the monetary value of a boyband.

In the early years, before Louis was publicly in a relationship with a woman, fans who thought he and Harry were in a relationship did not contradict what little fandom knew about them. But as more counter-evidence appeared, the secret-boyfriends theory became an increasingly elaborate conspiracy theory. There is a subplot involving Louis's girlfriend Eleanor as not just one beard, but twins or even triplets. The similarities between the relationship narrative constructed by these fans and the story promulgated by the Domlijah tinhats in Lotrips fandom in the early 2000s (minus the triplets) have led to these Larry shippers being called tinhats by other fans.[3] For many, the use of the phrase "tinhat' is considered objectionable.[4][5][6]

The fans who believe in the theory that Larry is Real are often called "Larries", although not all believers in this theory adopt the term for themselves or identify with the community (see Larrie for more detail). The term came into common use from around 2014 onwards, and prior to this, many Larries simply identified as Larry Stylinson shippers - which can be confusing when trying to distinguish more casual shippers from conspiracy theory believers.

Larries might label the vocal skeptics of the theory and of their behaviour "anti-Larries" or "antis", or the less common "hets" or "het girls".[7]

Other 1D ships have attracted tinhats (see Ziam is real), but Larry dominates the field.[8]

As of early 2016, Larry tinhatting was still going strong, though some continued to predict its imminent collapse. New Larry theories crop up and evolve to absorb and explain new developments in the band, often called stunts. According to the most hardcore of Larries, 2015 stunts include Zayn Malik leaving the band in March, Louis revealing that he was going to be a father in July (see Babygate) and even the band's hiatus, first announced in August.

Visibility and Harassment

Screen Shot 2012-09-16 at 3.34.48 PM.png
the infamous bullshit tweet

1D has been aware of the phenomenon since early on (as early as November 2010) and referenced it in interviews, appearing to find it amusing or at least not be bothered by it.[9][10] Later comments from Louis Tomlinson indicate that he was no longer amused. On September 16, 2012, the verified Twitter account @Louis_Tomlinson tweeted

Still months on reading ridiculous conspiracy theories.It's upsetting that I have to read them daily.Thank god for the lovely people on here".[11]

@skyleridk challenged this with "funny that no matter what happens they will never deny larry", and Tomlinson replied,

@skyleridk Hows this , Larry is the biggest load of bullshit I've ever heard. I'm happy why can't you accept that." [12]

Non-believers of "Larry is Real" have speculated that his anger was in response to his girlfriend getting harassed; meanwhile, Larries speculated that the tweet had been written by management.[13]

There have been many instances where shippers have harassed One Direction members and their friends online.[14] See Nick Grimshaw's Relationship with One Direction fandom for some of the details. Larries have also turned their ire on other fans and observers who questioned their claims. When, in her capacity as a journalist, slash fan Aja wrote an article in 2012 describing the tinhat phenomenon, she was attacked in the comments.[15][16] The publicity rep for One Direction, Simon Jones, tweeted a denial in 2014 and was promptly attacked.[17] Some fans have set up Tumblrs specifically to debunk claims by Larries, and are also faced with abuse.[18] It is not uncommon for Ex-Larries to report that they were harassed by other Larries, both before and after they left the fold.[19][20]

Some Larries claim anyone who disagrees with them is either is stupid[21] or homophobic or has been hired by Modest!Entertainment to spout the party line. For this reason, explicit denials of Larry from 1D's friends and family members on social media have not produced the desired results. Some Larries flood 1D-related people's social media with Larry comments[22] and others go farther, making threats and accusations. Why they do this is a matter of some speculation among anti-larries, who often point the finger at big larries for riling up young impressionable followers.

However, since one theme of Larry fandom is that they are "supporting" Harry and Louis and helping them fight the Big Gay War against the contract supposedly keeping them in the closet, Dark larries may be justifying their abusive comments on the social media accounts of supposed Modest!Entertainment employees (i.e. friends and family) as a way of showing Modest that closeting is unnecessary and counterproductive.[23]

In this context, the heavily-criticized fan project Rainbow Direction, introduced in 2014, may have been started as a more civilized alternative. From the tumblr account that organized Rainbow Direction, in 2013:

This blog was born from the belief that, as fans, through the use of social media, we can show that we are not homophobic but supportive. Not by outing celebrities against their will. Not by waging war on their management and pr companies, But by organizing ourselves, by consistently calling out homophobic statements by media, celebrities and fans, and by educating them on what a tolerant and supportive fanbase looks like. In this way we can slowly but surely tilt the balance in favor of tolerance and support. Amongst the fanbase, at first, in the media, and, ultimately, in the industry itself.[24]

Some Larries are aware that their actions are offensive or even harmful, but believe they are justified anyway. As one says, "Do I support fans sending messages to Briana or Louis family? Of course not. But like they say 'there is no smoke without fire'. We can’t all be wrong…"[25]

Harassment of Larries

Facebook screencap of hate circulating among Larries in 2013

A potentially significant piece of context is often missing from anti-larrie analysis of tinhat behavior. From the time that fans knew Louis was dating Eleanor (2011?), there has been a long ship war between the Larries and Elounor shippers; perhaps not coincidentally, there appears to be a large overlap between anti-larrie blogging and Elounor shipping.[26] Toxic comments may have been flying in both directions. Larries reported being on the receiving end of abuse from Elounor shippers.[27] On the other hand, other parts of fandom (some would say, "the rest of fandom") believe the toxic comments mostly came from Larries.

Sorting out the truth after the fact is difficult when the tale grows in the telling. For example, grandiose claims like many larry shippers have killed themselves because of elounor shippers[28][29] could easily have had their origin in 2013 tumblr posts circulating among Larries like this one showing a screencap of alleged Elounor shippers on Facebook saying Larries should kill themselves[30]. This sense of persecution likely led to increased sensitivity, insularity, and nursing of injuries to the point where Larries might jump to conclusions if anyone so much as disagreed with the idea of Larry being real. Meanwhile, though the screencaps were instantly believable to Larries, other fans, remembering incidents of photoshopping evidence and making up stories whole cloth, were less likely to believe that the reported nastiness actually occurred. And not being believed would tend to feed into Larries' persecution complex.

Beliefs and perceptions aside, the level of hostility between the two groups is real. In response to the 2014 Larries' call for an album boycott based on the belief that Louis's tweets were written by a homophobic management, one anti-Larry responded:
YALL ARE SO EMBERASSING IM SORRY LARRY ISNT FUCKING REAL GET THE FUCK OVER IT LOOORDDD YALL KNOW ITS ALL ABOUT LARRY JUST STFU YALL ARE SO DUMB DOING THIS SHIT OVER BULLSHIT PLESSE I DIDENT SEE YALL MAKING A FIT WHEN HE SAID THE N WORD ON CAMERA YOU LIL FUCKERS FUCK YALL ANNOY ME SO MUCH[31]

Other Fans' Views

Some fans try to ignore Larries; others call them delusional or cult-like[32]. (Many Larries are not pleased by these insults, and are less inclined to listen to non-Larries' criticisms as a result.) Some try to make them see reason. However, there do appear to be pockets of fandom that have been casually exposed to parts of the conspiracy theory without either realizing that it was a conspiracy theory or joining the theorists.

Some fans have commented that there is no inherent harm in believing:

Honestly, though, as long as you aren't contacting them about it or doing the 'girlfriends are evil beards!' thing, tinhatting of a relationship that may or may not have happened in the past is fairly harmless? I tend to take the halfway position of 'I don't think they did, necessarily, but I also wouldn't be surprised to find out I was wrong', personally. Because, yeah--they are a bit... well.[33]

Anti-larries have expressed concern about all the harassment toward 1D and argued that this behavior has had negative real-world consequences:

It's hurtful to ignore their wishes and continue to ‘attack’ them with your misbeliefs. If you don’t believe them, at least show them the courtesy and respect they deserve for choosing to live their lives however they see fit. If you want to tinhat, do so privately. Leave the boys, and anyone associated with them, out of it. They don’t like it, Louis especially and for good reason. By his own admission, his friendship with Harry, especially in public and maybe in private, has changed and not for the better.[34] Maybe that’s all due to growing up and finding different interests, but I’m certain tinhatting played a part as well.[35]

Other reasons many fans are annoyed with Larries are more fandom-centric. Larry shippers who simply enjoy the pairing have expressed annoyance because other parts of fandom assume that they, too, are tinhats.[36] People have complained that Larrie theories require Harry and Louis to be very OOC in fanfic. Furthermore, it is widely believed among non-Larries that Harry and Louis stopped interacting publicly because of the conspiracy theories, thus depriving everyone else in the fandom of cute canon material for their ship. In a 2017 interview with The Sun, Louis Tomlinson somewhat confirmed this:

It kind of happened naturally for me and Harry because a certain amount of the fans drew up this conspiracy. When it first came around I was with Eleanor, and it actually felt a little bit disrespectful to Eleanor, who is my girlfriend now. I’m so protective over things like that, about the people I love. So it created this atmosphere between the two of us where everyone was looking into everything we did. It took away the vibe you get off anyone. It made everything, I think on both fences, a little bit more unapproachable. I think it shows that it was never anything real, if I can use that word.[37][38]

Finally, some other fans, including former Larries, are annoyed because they claim Larries ruined their enjoyment of Larry as a ship:

I think I've developed a phobia of the larry ship, I've been feeling so angry and betrayed and guilty and ashamed and disgusted by the shittiness I used to be part of as a larrie, that coming across larry stuff (footage, manips, fic, etc) now just infuriates the fuck out of me. Like, I wish larry had never interacted ever, that larry should never have existed.[39]

Maybe, Definitely, Probably

Although the Larries may look like a mass of crazy to many in the fandom, there is a range of opinion regarding the likelihood of Larry being real (and at what point they were together and whether they are still together[40]). Plenty of fans take the idea of Larry being real seriously without harassing anybody. Furthermore, not all believers subscribe to all tinhat theories. Commenting on the Eleanor twin idea, Tumblr user stylinsoncity said,

I think we Larry supporters need to all sit down and have a nice chat and come to an understanding once and for all that there is no Tina Calder. The fact that this is even still a theory stuns me. And truly, when you compile arguments and “proof” supporting the existence of Tina, you make the entire Larry Stylinson fandom look like idiots.[41]

In 2014 Cosmopolitan asked fans about their opinion on Larry for an article on adult fans of 1D. One response represents a common view of Larry as plausible and desirable, but not 100% proven:

I totally ship Larry. After first hearing about their supposed love affair, I sort of went from 'Ha, yeah right,' to 'Well, that would be cute,' to 'OK, I don't think it's real but I see why you might think that,' to 'Man, I really wish that was real,' to 'OK, OK, I think that there's a decent chance that it's real but I'm still not sure but holy shit am I into it.' And it's not the biggest stretch to think that they'd be forced to be closeted — they're money-making machines, and having a gay couple in the mix would change everything. It's a risk the higher-ups surely wouldn't want to take. Believing in 'Larry' is still a conspiracy theory, [but] the fact that someone keeps them apart in light of the rumors — whether it's management or their own choice — is a fact. See, I'm always trying to convince myself.[42]

Larries often talk about their convictions in almost religious terms (I believe in Larry), and some have said that the game of "proving" it is just a side show:

The thing about being a “Larrie” to me is that, when you know, you /know/. I have been a part of this since before UAN[43] and I don’t need any further confirmation for it. The conspiracy theories are just as insecure (in my eyes) as the “anti-larries” who are always trying to disprove it.[44]

Babygate

The news of Louis fathering a child in July 2015 prompted an outcry among Larry shippers that was covered extensively in mainstream media outlets. The events surrounding the announcement of Louis' fatherhood and subsequent Larrie fan theories have been dubbed "Babygate".

See Babygate for more information.

See the Theories page.

Fanworks

See also: Larry Stylinson - Example Fanworks

Examples Wanted: Editors are encouraged to add more examples or a wider variety of examples.

The Harry and Louis ship has been the most popular One Direction ship by a large margin and has inspired many fanworks.[note 1][note 2]

The following works contain depictions of Larry fan theories and/or notable moments, though the creators listed below do not necessarily believe that Larry is real.

Fanfiction

"The canon compliant Harry and Louis love story from the very beginning, where the only difference is that the love between them is literally written on their skin, and there’s only so much they can hide."
"Harry Styles falls asleep a sixteen year old boy nervous about his upcoming X-Factor audition that could make or break his career. He wakes up a twenty-six year old man with a husband and two children, and no recollection of the past ten years."
"The one where Louis becomes a Larry shipper by accident."
"If there's one thing Harry is sure of, it's that he doesn't want to forget a single thing about Louis."
"Louis has a hate/love relationship with the video diaries. He has a love/love relationship with Harry, though, and the video diaries don't help with that at all."
"As always, the easy nonchalance with which he treats the rumors hurts, stabs Harry in the gut, twists the knife. Because it is hard for Harry; it’s hard to know people think they should be or are together because he wants that."
"the fic where Harry spirals out of control, the band breaks up, and then he shows back up, five years later."
"On the morning of his second sold-out performance at Madison Square Garden, Harry wakes up to find that he's sixteen years old, on The X Factor, and that he has a chance to make things right. A canon-compliant fix-it fic (sort of)."

Fanart

Fanvids

Fannish Resources

Notes and References

Notes

  1. Some speculate that Larry fan theories may also have helped inspire the large number of alternate universe works in the fandom that deal with being in the closet, coming out and dealing with homophobia.
  2. Some readers have complained that Larrie theories require Harry and Louis to be very OOC in fanfic.

References

  1. See this Tumblr thread: I don’t know why people think he’s joking….[1]. The original comments are now deleted, so they may have changed their minds. (Accessed 14 March 2015.)
  2. A rundown of the Larrie tattoo theories, as described by an antilarrie: Complementary/Matching Tattoos by 1arry-isnt-rea1, posted to tumblr 29 December 2014. archived
  3. For example, Aja, who wrote One Direction Fans have trouble separating their 'Larry Stylinson' fantasy from reality, The Daily Dot, posted August 22, 2012. See also Tumblr fan im-on-fire-now's post Pay attention, archived, posted June 14, 2013.
  4. For an exploration of the phrase and its diverse uses across fandoms, see Tinhat.
  5. Tinhat is not abelist, Archived version
  6. The only people saying it’s ableist are Larries, Archived version
  7. tumblr post, archived, by im-on-fire-now, posted September 15, 2015.
  8. 2013-08-08 comment by anon at Fail Fandomanon. See also 2014-05-17 comment thread between a former Narry tinhat and a former Gryles tinhat. For a recent example of Ziam conspiracy theorizing, see this post, archived, (February 1, 2015).
  9. Harry Styles (harry_styles) "On the phone to my sister @GemmaAnneStyles :) she's telling me about 'Larry Stylinson' hahah!!" 22 Nov 2010, 6:34 PM. Tweet.
  10. youtube clip of Harry saying, "The fans call me and Louis 'Larry Stylinson'" and gif set of the same by onedirectiones, archived, posted April 7, 2012. gifset of a video interview, archived, posted by 1dbromance to Tumblr May 31, 2012. MuchMusic interview on youtube
  11. Louis Tomlinson status 247375271156666368 accessed 2012-9-16
  12. Louis Tomlinson status 247381724760264704 accessed 2012-9-16
  13. It is known that certain PR-type staff have some kind of posting access to 1D's personal twitter accounts and occasionally log in to make promotional tweets. Occasionally, this is embarrassingly obvious, such as when "Niall" tweeted, and then tweeted again to say he'd been asleep. However, some Larries use this fact to discount any tweet that contradicts Larry.
  14. youhaveacoolurl's reblog June 9, 2014: a Larrie's post describing being blocked on Instagram and subsequently calling a friend of the band a douchebag. (archived) (Accessed June 10, 2014)
  15. One Direction Fans have trouble separating their 'Larry Stylinson' fantasy from reality, The Daily Dot, posted August 22, 2012. See also eleveninches' August 22, 2012 LiveJournal post This is the greatest thing to ever happen to her (me) (archived).
  16. However, note that many of Aja's Daily Dot articles are controversial in fandom, and fans have criticized them as (deliberately) provocative, sensationalistic, and/or misleading.
  17. Simon Jones (hackfordjonespr). "I want to say for the record I have NEVER fabricated a relationship or date for one of my clients. It is NOT the sort of PR we do in any way". 19 Jul 2014, 9:42 AM. Tweet. See also the Tumblr reblog of the screencapped tweet.
  18. See this Fail_fandomanon comment on 2014-7-25: One Direction fandom. Where you can't argue, having differing opinions, or debunk tinhats without being told to kill yourself.
  19. Instead of having their big old larrie family comforting them, they get treated like trash, get called weak and are told they aren’t needed. So they go over to the “other side” and find the support they couldn’t find on this side. tumblr reblog by snoopdogglouis, Archived version, reblogged by thisisnotalarryblog 10 February 2016.
  20. Example of anonymous harassment posted to tumblr: "lol whatever, you whore. you can be a fucking bitter anti but don't you dare come crawling back to us when louis and harry come out. Wow, i actually had faith in you, you fake bitch. have fun being up antis' asses." anon ask sent to powerpuffharrie, Archived version, reblogged by realityoverconspiracy, 3 April 2016.
  21. To be fair, here's an anonymous Elounor shipper making a rather weak argument against Larry in 2013: untitled eleanorcalderconfessions post, Archived version reblogged by wholelotofhislarrie on 3 July 2013.
  22. Including comments that consist solely of the word "Larry" and nothing else.
  23. Anon confession at confessionsofexlarries: I used to send awful things to Eleanor because I thought that she would quit and Louis would be able to come out if she did that. 7 February 2016.
  24. takemehomefromnarnia. Welcome to Narnia, there is a way out, Archived version, posted to tumblr 27 April 2013.
  25. reblog by louisgirlire, 18 February 2016. archived.
  26. From Fail_fandomanon, 2015-01-01: Well, I almost got sucked into the Elounor group on tumblr. You know, anti-larry blogs, debunking all the larry "proof" and arguing with people.
  27. In 2013 a fan commented on Deviantart, So some elounor shippers have started hacking larry shippers and telling them they should kill themselves for shipping it like #1 GET THE F*CK OVER YOURSELF. Telling people to die because you have problems with what they believe you need help. #2 hacking people and saying I hope you die if you ship them isn't going to help you. Elounor x Larry rant by Emily99723, Jun 23, 2013.
  28. tumblr post by literalbullshit, reblogged by the-counter-narrative, Archived version, 29 December 2014.
  29. Similarly: "11 of my Larry Stylinson family has died because of the hate her existence breeds, two of which committed suicide last night. I just want her to leave my family and friends and the boys I love alone." Why I Calmly And Rationally Despise Eleanor Calder, blog post by sexualsofas, 1 August 2013. Reposted to tumblr a few days later: : Why I Calmly And Rationally Despise Eleanor Calder, Archived version
  30. Reasons why I don’t go on One Direction Facebook pages., Archived version, reblogged by the founder of Rainbow Direction on 18 July 2013. Originally posted on 17 July 2013 by wholelotofhislarrie.
  31. YALL ARE SO EMBERASSING, Archived version
  32. Some former larries have also asserted that larries are a cult: "I have been brainwashed for a long time and when you’re damaged like that, it’s hard to exist in a completely different part of the fandom other than the larrie side.... This is how badly i’ve been manipulated by the big larries. they are a cult." My Ex-Larrie Transition, Archived version, reblog of a post by powerpuffharrie in April 2016.
  33. 2014-04-08 anonymous comment on Fail Fandomanon.
  34. Probably a reference to a 2012 interview with the Tumblr Storyboard, in which Louis was quoted as saying, "This is a subject that was funny at first but now is actually hard to deal with as I am in relationship. Me and Harry are best friends, people look into our every move, it is actually affecting the way me and Harry are in public, we want to joke around but there seems to be a different rumor every time we do anything." Posted to Tumblr July 13, 2012, with 12,259 notes as of November 29, 2014.
  35. im-on-fire-now. Pay attention, Tumblr post June 14, 2013. (Accessed June 10, 2014)
  36. See checkthemargins's reblog of a reblog by glitterbootsandyellowshorts, June 4, 2014: I’ve never been in a fandom that’s shamed me so hard for shipping something before and it’s getting old.
  37. Louis Tomlinson reveals pain of One Direction break but says 'it's what Harry wanted' as he opens up about band's future, Archived version, by Dan Wootton, The Sun, 21st July 2017.
  38. Louis confirms what everyone already assumed about the 1D break and his friendship with Harry - Oh No They Didn't!, Archived version, posted to livejournal, 21 July 2017.
  39. anon ask sent to exlarriesupportgroup, posted to tumblr 17 February 2016.
  40. However, as of 2015, some Larries have started using the term "Houie" to describe fans who believe that Harry and Louis used to be in a relationship but broke up, thus signalling that in order to be a true Larrie, you must believe they are currently in a relationship and therefore subscribe to the conspiracy theory.
  41. stylinsoncity. Tumblr post, 7 August 2014.
  42. Grown-Up One Direction Fangirls on Lust, Stalking, Gay 1D Fan Fic and Harry Styles' Dimples, Archived version published on Cosmopolitan.com Nov 24, 2014.
  43. 1D's first tour, "Up All Night," which started in December 2011.
  44. the-cheshire-pussy-cat. untitled Tumblr post, Archived version, 15 January 2015. (Accessed 19 January 2015.)
  45. archived
  46. archived