I was never really a Taylor Swift fan. Sure, her songs get stuck in my head from playing on repeat on the radio, but Taylor Swift always represented something unattainable; a tall, blonde, blue-eyed, skinny, perfect girl next door loved by everyone who met her. Her attempt to be darker in her past albums seemed really comical to me.
In my opinion, her recent music video, You Need To Calm Down, tackles more than just the fight for equality. It seems to be shouting to everyone, “Hey! If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it!”
The music video and VMA performance featured cameos by several prominent members of the LGBTQ+ community, such as Ellen DeGeneres, RuPaul Charles, and several drag queens.
According to USA TODAY, after having won Video of The Year at this year’s VMAs, there has been a lot of backlash claiming the pop star is “using Pride as a fashion statement or marketing ploy.” But many in the LGBTQ+ community have her back, and her allyship seems to really benefit the community regardless.
In an interview with Insider, Tan France, Queer Eye’s fashion guru, stated that he believes the community shouldn’t automatically assume that Swift is acting on self-serving motives. France added that even though the pop star hasn’t been a vocal advocate until recently, she has taken great strides in her allyship, concluding her music video by urging viewers to sign her Change.org petition in support of the Equality Act. The petition has since obtained over half a million signatures and counting.
The act has yet to pass in the U.S. Senate, and Swift hopes the petition will urge the Senate to proceed. If approved, the Equality Act would protect the LGBTQ+ community from discrimination, ensuring that all American citizens are treated equally.
With a net worth of over $360 million, Billboard stated that the pop star has made some very charitable donations to the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), the Joyful Heart Foundation for survivors of sexual assault, and various Go Fund Me campaigns, among other things.
Her charitable actions don’t necessarily speak louder than her luxuries – what with her two private jets and $84 million real estate portfolio, according to a recent article in the Business Insider. We can’t forget that Swift is not just Hollywood’s girl next door, but a boss business woman doing her best to manage her extreme successes.
Swift released her new album, Lover on Aug. 23. Featuring radio hit “ME!” and “You Need to Calm Down,” among other poppy tunes such as “The Man” (where Swift imagines her life as a man) and “Soon You’ll Get Better.” In the latter, the star sings “I hate to make this all about me, but who am I supposed to talk to? What am I supposed to do?” — her music is, after all, about her. She is the centre of her work, and she just happened to jump on the LGBTQ+ train. We can’t shade her for that.
In my opinion, although she could be doing more for other communities worldwide (ie, donating to Indigenous communities in Brazil affected by the fires in the Amazon), there is a lot of pressure put on Swift, and other celebrities, to be vocal allies. This makes them prime bait for public backlash – while these are figures that can use their positions for political advantage, they are not politicians, but privileged voting citizens. They simply have louder microphones than the rest of us.