Taylor Swift understands the influence of her massive fanbase and ensures that she sets a positive example in supporting those at risk or in need
Taylor Swift is using her platform to reach hundreds of millions of people. She could be selling products or just having fun, but instead she promotes messages for LGBTQ rights. She is not being paid for these messages, she promotes LGBTQ interests because she cares about the community and wants to help them.
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Taylor Swift is an undeniable superstar with global influence. According to a 2019 article in Business Insider, Swift’s 2018 tour “Reputation” surpassed The Rolling Stones’ “highest-grossing US stadium tour” status by $100 million. She has managed to create a fanbase so dedicated to her success, that many have teamed up to boost her music streams and ticket sales. She is known to be effusively thankful to her fans and goes out of her way to support them, frequently covering fans’ educational or medical fees and jumping to aide those in need. She gained substantial public approval when she stood with Kesha against abuse and discrimination and helped her deal with fees related to her legal battle with Dr. Luke. Taylor Swift’s fans have also watched her grow up, meaning they have been witness to her incredibly honest journey from an American country singer, silent on issues of social injustice, to a leading popstar and outspoken activist for social change. Swift has been frank with her fanbase about her metamorphosis, according to Billboard, acknowledging her previous refusal to speak out and allowing them to watch her find her voice. Now, she uses her social media, financial resources, and artistic voice to state her stance clearly: she is in support of LGBTQIA+ rights. As she is one of the most influential American superstars with an immensely loyal fanbase, her voice rings strong. Her fans who have homophobic views are bound to be influenced by her perspective and question their own actions as they watch Swift make her own realizations. According to NBC, her song “You Need to Calm Down” used the acronym “GLAAD” in place of “glad” leading to an enormous influx of donations to the GLAAD organization, which works to promote LGBTQIA+ representation in the media.
Taylor Swift does exercise a considerable amount of cultural influence, but this context paired with her activism for LGBTQIA+ rights does not make her a “gay icon.” In an interview with Independent, Beth Ditto explains that she is largely unphased by Taylor Swift’s song and music video “You need to Calm Down.” While she is thrilled that Swift has used both her platform to draw attention to social injustice (lyrical prowess and an open letter to a republican senator on social media) and her financial privilege to donate to the cause, she explains her suspicions that Swift was using the “pink pound” strategy. In other words, Ditto wonders if this is a clever marketing tool on Swift’s part; she is targeting gay men and benefitting from their appreciation of her including LGBTQIA+ issues in her music. She also notices that Swift employs stereotypes in her music video (that of a rural and uneducated crowd protesting gay rights). That narrative is overly simplified and untrue, explains Ditto. Swift’s massive fanbase really just gives her more responsibility rather than the title of “gay icon.” Unfortunately, Swift’s fame might actually get in the way of her activism. According to a 2019 article in The Atlantic, Swift’s music video actually implies that she sees a connection between the undeniable criticism she has experienced as a woman in the music industry with violence against the queer community. Both can exist, but these issues are two entirely different mountains. The song, according to The Atlantic, is a powerful demonstration of ally-ship, but does not exalt Swift to anything other than that.
Rejecting the premises