Taylor Swift’s lyrical choice of “GLAAD” instead of “glad” proves her commitment to interweaving her activism with her artistry
Taylor Swift has made significant financial contributions to GLAAD and spoken out in support of the LGBTQIA+ community in her music and on social media. She uses her platform to support grassroots work.
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GLAAD stands for the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation. They believe in the power of narrative and hand the microphone to LGBTQIA+ voices in entertainment, enforcing equitable representation. According to GLAAD’s website, Taylor Swift made an impressive donation to their organization for Pride month. GLAAD also celebrates her public letter to Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, imploring him to support the Equality Act and take a stand against discrimination. They also note her words of support for the Tennessee Equality Project, designed to take down discriminatory anti-LGBTQIA+ bills. According to GLAAD, Taylor Swift continuously used her tremendous influence to uplift the queer community and extend her socially influential and financial support. According to NBC News, Taylor Swift’s song “You Need to Calm Down” raised a significant amount of donations for GLAAD because of her very specific choice in lyrics, using “GLAAD” instead of “glad.” This song had a major impact on the respected organization, which received “an influx of donations in the amount of $13”; in other words, fans seemed to make donations of Taylor Swift’s famous favorite number to GLAAD. Kevin Nadal, psychology professor at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, studies LGBTQIA+ discrimination. According to him, before 2016, there was a vacuum of silence on the part of many allies in the entertainment industry. Swift’s use of her platform to share the spotlight is immensely helpful in terms of funding organizations that do important grassroots work and improving representation.
It is duly noted that Taylor Swift’s significant financial contributions to GLAAD and her encouragement of donations have boosted the organization’s ability to do their important work. But, sudden financial and lyrical support is not cutting it for some of Swift’s fanbase. She is, after all, not a member of the queer community, and has only just recently confirmed her ally-ship, according to CNBC. Sociologist Lisa Stulberg explains that this is particularly difficult for celebrities with voices as influential as Taylor Swift’s. It is not easy for her to take a stand as a straight person without actually taking over the limelight. According to Revelist, Swift’s timing is questionable. Now that Pride month has also become a sort of performative holiday for a lot of straight people rather than an ode to the Stonewall Riots of 1969, it seems that Swift is taking considerably less risk in speaking out than she would have when this all wasn’t as mainstream, but just as important. Some wonder if she is “queerbaiting,” or capitalizing off of queer themes for ticket sales. While Swift’s financial contributions to GLAAD are extremely important, she will inherently benefit from this kind of publicity because of her celebrity status, and this alone does not make her a “gay icon.”
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