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.”
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 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.”
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