Taylor Swift is a powerful ally of the LGBTQIA+ community, but there are members of the community that are actually icons
Before all else, cultural icons who are members of the LGBTQIA+ community take the lead. The debate over whether or not Taylor Swift is a gay icon takes the spotlight away from queer people who are doing the work to fight for representation and rights.
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According to The Atlantic, Taylor swift has certainly taken a stance in support of the LGBTQIA+ community and has deemed herself an ally, creating a petition supporting the Equality Act, releasing a song that name drops GLAAD, pokes fun at anti-gay protestors, and spotlights queer celebrities. She is finally becoming more vocal on her social media against social injustices. And the Atlantic says that her ally-ship is the most we should admire from Taylor Swift, her willingness to protect and support her queer peers. For a long time, those identifying as straight have had the microphone and their stories have had the spotlight. Take Swift’s music videos for Love Story and You Belong With Me. The Atlantic reminds readers that as soon as heterosexual allies take up more space than the very people they are supporting, we are back to square one. And then there’s the problem with commodification; a music video like "You Need to Calm Down" is a hit now because queerness is becoming performatively mainstream, but a career move like this was a huge risk not long ago. Not to mention the rampant violence the queer community still faces behind the scenes. We should draw our attention to the real “gay icons” who actually identify as a member of the LGBTQIA+ community and who are able to speak with nuance and pride about their very own experiences. The point is really for allies to listen and to support most of the time rather than take the stage. LA Magazine lists just a few of the revolutionaries of our time who are not just waking up to the need to fight for the rights of the queer community. To name some icons: RuPaul, an American producer, drag queen, model, and Emmy award winner; Billy Porter, Broadway star and fashion ambassador; Indya Moore, an actor and one of the first transgender models for Louis Vuitton; Hannah Gadsby, an Australian comedian with a Netflix hit called Nanette, and many, many more. The Huffington Post reminds readers that queer representation is key; if you do not see yourself on screen, in policy-making, in the school system, then this absence leads to perceived invisibility. A lack of representation has self-fulfilling and lasting effects; what you do not see can become abnormal. Focusing on the words of the actual LGBTQIA+ community is most valuable.
There is increasing debate over what it means to be a “gay icon.” A BBC article highlights the late Judy Garland and her impressive following in the queer community. Garland had an extremely difficult experience in Hollywood, although outwardly immensely successful. She was encouraged to take pills to monitor her body weight and she also attempted suicide; her life was highly controlled from an extremely young age, so much so that it seems she was not permitted to let her own light shine through and grow. The BBC article, along with a cited 1969 Esquire Magazine article, offers that Garland’s intimacy with suffering led her to be the ultimate “gay icon” that she is without actually identifying as part of the queer community; and it surely helps that she famously stated, “I sing to people!” when asked how she felt about her gay following. Although highly different careers and personalities, Taylor Swift herself has experienced simultaneous womanhood and stardom and all of the unthinkable pressure that comes along with it all. She has not identified as a member of the queer community but is now extremely vocal in her ally-ship on social media, in interviews, and featuring queer icons in her music videos. She has released “You Need to Calm Down” during Pride month, and Hugh McIntyre for Forbes, explains that while the song will not become a “gay anthem” because you can’t just write one without its being “chosen,” he is approving of her choice to use her massive platform for good.
Rejecting the premises