Words: Will Stroude
For many years, Taylor Swift's views on LGBTQ equality remained laregly unknown to her millions of fans around the globe, but after a year which has seen her campaign for the US Equality Act protecting LGBTQ people from discrimination and shining a light on LGBTQ talent through her work, the singer is set to be honoured for her allyship at the GLAAD Media Awards.
Taylor, who famously played on GLAAD's name in the lyrics to last year's bigot kiss-off anthem 'You Need to Calm Down' - will receive the Vanguard Award at the LGBTQ organisation's annual awards ceremony in April, organisers announced on Tuesday (7 January).
"From boldly standing up against anti-LGBTQ elected officials to shining attention on the urgent need to protect LGBTQ people from discrimination through the Equality Act, Taylor Swift proudly uses her unique ability to influence pop culture to promote LGBTQ acceptance," said GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis.
"In a time of political and cultural division, Taylor creates music that unites and calls on her massive fan following to speak up and call for change."
Swfit, who will be honoured alongside transgender filmmaker, actress and activist Janet Mock at April's ceremony, donated $113,000 (£86,000) to an LGBTQ rights group in her home state of Tennessee to help the group fight a series of anti-gay bills in April last year.
Soon after, the 'All Too Well' singer launched a petition urging Tennesee senators to support the Equality Act, which would prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, and shone a spotlight on queer performers including RuPaul, Todrick Hall and Laverne Cox in the celebratory video for 'You Need to Calm Down'.
The speed of Swift's transformation into one of music's most outspoken LGBTQ allies was met with suspicion by some, who accused the star of cashing in on the community's struggle around Pride month.
Taylor later dismissed the criticism as "baseless" in an interview with Rolling Stone, saying: “The question posed to me is, if you kept trying to do good things, but everyone saw those things in a cynical way and assumed them to be done with bad motivation and bad intent, would you still do good things, even though nothing that you did was looked at as good?
"And the answer is, yes. Criticism that’s constructive is helpful to my character growth. Baseless criticism is stuff I’ve got to toss out now."
Swift's friend and fellow performer Todrick Hall, who appeared in the singer's video for 2017 single 'Look What You Made Me Do' as well as last summer's 'You Need to Calm Down', reveals in Attitude's February Travel issue - out now to download and to order globally - that he urged Swift to be more outspoken about her support for LGBTQ people after learning of her views privately.
"One of my favourite things that I’ve done is to be a friend to Taylor and be able to help her realise that using her voice is a humungous instrument that is able to change the minds of those who, without her, may have never looked at gay people as actual people", Hall tells us.
"When I’m at a club or a concert and I hear people scream the line, ‘… shade never made anyone less gay’ [from YNTCD], I can’t help but take a little bit of ownership of the fact that I helped her realise how powerful it would be for her to make a statement like that."
The Greatest Dancer captain goes on: “I always wanted to handle the situation delicately because it’s not my place to tell someone else when it’s the right time for them to talk about something.
Todrick Hall, shot by Conor Clinch exclusively for Attitude's February Travel issue, out now
"All I really wanted her to know was that, as somebody who was a bystander, I didn’t know how comfortable she was with me and my lifestyle, and I was apprehensive about fully opening up to her. She was talking one day about having kids and I asked her: ‘What would you do if your child was to tell you that they are gay?’
"She looked at me and was like, ‘Then they would be gay. That would be no big deal. It’s not something that I would think about. I would love them and support them with whatever they wanted to do’.
"At that point, I pointed out: ‘It’s important that you let people know that you feel this way’,” he recalls.
"Taylor is just so about love. I call her and she listens to every single situation with every person I’ve thought for one second might be the future Mr Hall."
Read the full interview with Todrick Hall in Attitude's February Travel issue, out now.