The other day I was scrolling through Instagram and noticed that literally every second post was a throwback pic from a queer person of beloved heiress Paris Hilton. There are scores and scores of pop culture accounts that frequently herald her as a ‘queen’ and an ‘icon’, seemingly blind to the fact that in 2012 she was caught on tape saying that all gay men are “disgusting” and “probably had AIDS.”

All it took was a polished, media-trained (read: forced) public apology and she had reclaimed her gAy iCoN status in no time.

Meanwhile a fellow blonde who has never bad-mouthed the queer community and is showering us with love and support is copping insane amounts of backlash.

I am, of course, talking about one Taylor Swift.

Let me preface this by saying that I’ve been a fan of Taylor since she was rocking curly hair and cowboy boots so I’m well versed in her history.

I know that while artists like Lady Gaga and Christina Aguilera were speaking out about gay rights, Taylor was silent.

I am aware that Taylor’s sudden interest in the gay community coincides with the release of her new album.

I TOTALLY get that and I’m not saying that she’s a perfect queer icon, but in a world where we have prominent athletes like Israel Folau saying that gays are going to hell and top-paid actors like Kevin Hart saying that he’d physically abuse his child if he were gay, why are we demonising someone who is supporting us?

Sure, she’s only been openly supporting the gay community for approximately eight months now, but in those eight months she’s done some phenomenal acts which, in this gay man’s opinion, earns her the right to wave our flag.

Swift famously dropped her apolitical stance back in November 2018, just before the 2018 midterm elections with an Instagram post urging her millions of followers to vote for leaders who support gay rights.

In the caption, she addressed the elephant in the room and explained why she is suddenly speaking out, writing: “In the past I’ve been reluctant to publicly voice my political opinions, but due to several events in my life and in the world in the past two years, I feel very differently about that now.”

She added, “I believe in the fight for LGBTQ rights, and that any form of discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender is WRONG.”

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I’m writing this post about the upcoming midterm elections on November 6th, in which I’ll be voting in the state of Tennessee. In the past I’ve been reluctant to publicly voice my political opinions, but due to several events in my life and in the world in the past two years, I feel very differently about that now. I always have and always will cast my vote based on which candidate will protect and fight for the human rights I believe we all deserve in this country. I believe in the fight for LGBTQ rights, and that any form of discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender is WRONG. I believe that the systemic racism we still see in this country towards people of color is terrifying, sickening and prevalent. I cannot vote for someone who will not be willing to fight for dignity for ALL Americans, no matter their skin color, gender or who they love. Running for Senate in the state of Tennessee is a woman named Marsha Blackburn. As much as I have in the past and would like to continue voting for women in office, I cannot support Marsha Blackburn. Her voting record in Congress appalls and terrifies me. She voted against equal pay for women. She voted against the Reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, which attempts to protect women from domestic violence, stalking, and date rape. She believes businesses have a right to refuse service to gay couples. She also believes they should not have the right to marry. These are not MY Tennessee values. I will be voting for Phil Bredesen for Senate and Jim Cooper for House of Representatives. Please, please educate yourself on the candidates running in your state and vote based on who most closely represents your values. For a lot of us, we may never find a candidate or party with whom we agree 100% on every issue, but we have to vote anyway. So many intelligent, thoughtful, self-possessed people have turned 18 in the past two years and now have the right and privilege to make their vote count. But first you need to register, which is quick and easy to do. October 9th is the LAST DAY to register to vote in the state of TN. Go to vote.org and you can find all the info. Happy Voting! ????????????

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Those words ricocheted across social media, copping her a ton of backlash but apparently it also ricocheted where it mattered ‘coz her post inspired a huge spike in voter registration.

Kamari Guthrie, communications director at Vote.org, told Buzzfeed that they had received an influx of 65,000 voter registrations in the 24-hour period following Swift’s Instagram post.

Regardless of how critics felt about the post, it clearly made one hell of a difference.

For me, a longtime Taylor fan, my rainbow-coloured heart was filled with joy that my idol was publicly embracing us. Better late than never, as they say.

And my argument is that while, again, she is very, very late to the queer parade, unlike the aforementioned Paris Hilton and Kevin Hart who once said despicable things about us, only to later apologise after being slammed, Taylor never said anything negative about the gay community, even when she was catering to the famously anti-gay Southern States.

She wasn’t previously anti-gay or spreading the word about other political policies and ignoring LGBTQIA+ rights. She was simply apolitical and focusing on her music. That’s it.

And unlike Hilton and Hart, Swift has actually put her money where her mouth is. Literally.

A few months back, Taylor donated an extraordinary $160K to the Tennessee Equality Project (TEP), an organisation dedicated to protecting gay rights in the Volunteer State.

Then at the start of Pride Month, she penned an open letter to Republican senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee to ask for his support in passing the Equality Act when the bill reaches the U.S. Senate.

Have a read of the letter below but pay particular attention to her attack on President Donald Trump where she writes, “I personally reject the President’s stance that his administration, ‘supports equal treatment of all,’ but that the Equality Act ‘in its current form is filled with poison pills that threaten to undermine parental and conscience rights.’ No.”

“One cannot take the position that one supports a community while condemning it in the next breath as going against ‘conscience’ or ‘parental rights.’ That statement implies that there is something wrong with being anything other than heterosexual and cisgender, which is an incredibly harmful message to send to a nation full of healthy and loving families with same-sex, non binary or transgender parents, sons or daughters.”

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????HAPPY PRIDE MONTH!!!???? While we have so much to celebrate, we also have a great distance to go before everyone in this country is truly treated equally. In excellent recent news, the House has passed the Equality Act, which would protect LGBTQ people from discrimination in their places of work, homes, schools, and other public accommodations. The next step is that the bill will go before the Senate. I’ve decided to kick off Pride Month by writing a letter to one of my senators to explain how strongly I feel that the Equality Act should be passed. I urge you to write to your senators too. I’ll be looking for your letters by searching the hashtag #lettertomysenator. While there’s no information yet as to when the Equality Act will go before the Senate for a vote, we do know this: Politicians need votes to stay in office. Votes come from the people. Pressure from massive amounts of people is a major way to push politicians towards positive change. That’s why I’ve created a petition at change.org to urge the Senate to support the Equality Act. Our country’s lack of protection for its own citizens ensures that LGBTQ people must live in fear that their lives could be turned upside down by an employer or landlord who is homophobic or transphobic. The fact that, legally, some people are completely at the mercy of the hatred and bigotry of others is disgusting and unacceptable. Let’s show our pride by demanding that, on a national level, our laws truly treat all of our citizens equally. ???????????????????????????????????????????????????? Click the link in my bio to sign the petition for Senate support of the Equality Act.

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This is why I disagree with all the vitriol that has been cast her way following the release of ‘You Need To Calm Down’. Her support for the gay community isn’t just limited to this one music video where she wears queer colours and dances with queer celebrities.

Her support has been vocal, varied and ultimately a huge help to the gay community and we should praise her for this, not strike her down and demand that she keep her mouth shut.

Again, this is just one gay man’s opinion and I totally understand why most people have a different take on this than me. Really, I do.

All I’m saying is that seeing Taylor’s anti-homophobia song, her pride-themed music video and her open letters have been a huge comfort for me in a world where we’re still demonised on the daily and ya know what? It’s probably a huge comfort for young people still struggling to discover their identity.

I remember being a kid and literally Googling a celeb’s name and the words ‘gay rights’ to see if they had ever showed their support for the community and while many had publicly lambasted discrimination, there were many celebs who had either never spoken about gay rights or even worse, had publicly criticised us and it broke my heart.

So I’m just thinking about the impressionable young members of the LGBTQIA+ community here. Having one of the biggest stars of all time publicly rinsing homophobes and telling them it’s OK to be who they are will be a tremendous support to them.

Personal feelings aside, you cannot deny that what Taylor Swift is doing is ultimately for the greater good of the queer community and I applaud her for that, even if no one else will.

Image: Getty Images