Is Harry Styles’ Tom Gay or Bisexual in My Policeman?

In ‘My Policeman,’ the period romance drama film based on the 2012 novel of the same name by Bethan Roberts, singer-songwriter and actor Harry Styles portrays the younger Tom Burgess (Linus Roache portrays the older Tom), a married English police officer who is secretly in a romantic relationship with museum curator Patrick Hazlewood (David Dawson as the younger and Rupert Everett as the older). Tom’s wife, Marion Taylor (Emma Corrin as the younger and Gina McKee as the older), gradually discovers the nature of Tom and Patrick’s relationship. When she confronts Tom about it, he claims to love her. They stay together for years despite the revelations. Things only change after Marion decides to take care of Patrick, who suffered a massive stroke, at her home. If you are wondering whether Tom is gay or bisexual in ‘My Policeman,’ this is what we think. SPOILERS AHEAD.

Unveiling Tom’s Sexuality in the Context of 1950s Britain

To answer this question, we must acknowledge that the setting of the film provides context to the characters’ actions. The part of the narrative in ‘My Policeman’ that revolves around the younger versions of the characters is set in Brighton, England, in the 1950s. During this period, same-sex relationships still illegal in that country. Many were prosecuted and suffered for these laws. A considerable few hid behind a façade of a heterosexual relationship, sometimes without even telling their spouses and inevitably making them part of the tragedy.

Tom and Marion’s relationship is quite similar to that. If Tom were meant to be bisexual, then director Michael Grandage and his team would have taken time to depict his physical attraction toward Marion. That doesn’t happen. Instead, what we get is awkward sexual encounters between the two characters that leave both of them dissatisfied. It’s almost as if he is performing the act to keep up the façade.

Image Credit: Parisa Taghizadeh/Amazon Prime Video

To Tom, Marion seems to represent conventionality and security. He is an ambitious young man with the desire to rise through the ranks of law enforcement. While he is already in a relationship with Patrick, he decides to marry Marion after learning that bachelors are not promoted in the force. The marriage also provides a cover for his actual sexual orientation. Tom introduces Marion to Patrick, and they quickly become friends. To the outside world, Patrick appears to be a wealthy and cultured friend who seems to have more things in common with Marion than Tom. They seem so compatible that one of Marion’s friends wonders whether Patrick is a better option for Marion than Tom before she marries the latter.

It would have been acceptable if Marion had been told beforehand what she was getting into. She isn’t and eventually becomes a victim of the entire mess. She is also a product of her age, which views gay relationships in an unflattering light. As this gets mixed in her mind with a sense of betrayal, she lashes out by telling the authorities about Patrick’s lifestyle, which leads to his arrest. Although Marion later feels guilty and tries to rectify her actions by serving as his character witness during his trial, the situation only worsens. The prosecutor reveals that there was a sexual relationship between her husband and Patrick, confirming her suspicions. Patrick is subsequently jailed for two years, and Tom loses his job as a police officer.

Image Credit: Parisa Taghizadeh/Amazon Prime Video

Roberts’ book is based on the complex relationship between celebrated author E.M. Foster, a man named Bob Buckingham, and his wife May. After Foster’s death, May Buckingham wrote, “I now know that he was in love with Robert [Bob] and therefore critical and jealous of me and our early years were very stormy, mostly because he had not the faintest idea of the pattern of our lives and was determined that Robert should not be engulfed in domesticity. Over the years he changed us both and he and I came to love one another, able to share the joys and sorrows that came.”

In the film, even after the laws are changed, Tom remains with Marion because he believes a life with her is safer than the alternative. It takes Marion’s own initiative to sever those ties, finally letting all three of them live the lives they should have been all this time.

Read More: When and Where Does My Policeman Take Place?