Former One Direction member Zayn Malik recently addressed the gay rumors surrounding the wildly successful British boy band he quit seven months ago.
Speaking to a reporter for The Fader, the 22-year-old, who's now embarking on a solo career, acknowledged that some One Direction fans enjoy imagining its members in secret gay affairs.
It sometimes happens in the form of "shipping," or "relationshipping," that is, writing short pieces of fan-fiction depicting celebrities in love and sharing the stories on the internet. One Direction fans take shipping to a whole new level by poring over the band's photographs and videos and dissecting interview quotes in search of "clues" as to which members are involved with one another.
Many fans are so convinced that One Direction members are being held forcibly in the closet, they've gone online to spread allegations of managerial cover-ups and non-disclosure agreements.
Malik says it's just not so, and, in fact, the gay rumors bother his former bandmates.
"There's no secret relationships going on with any of the band members," Malik told The Fader. "It's not funny, and it still continues to be quite hard for them. They won't naturally go put their arm around each other because they're conscious of this thing that's going on, which is not even true. They won't do that natural behavior."
"But it's just the way the fans are. They're so passionate, and once they get their head around an idea, that's the way it is regardless of anything. If it wasn't for that passionate, like, almost obsession, then we wouldn't have the success that we had."
Of course, over the years, we've seen many members of wildly successful boy bands come out as gay or bisexual.