A recent New York Times opinion piece on Taylor Swift has drawn criticism for speculating about the pop star’s sexuality.
In the article, published on 4 January, editor Anna Marks strings together various references in Swift’s music which she believes hint that the star may identify as queer.
Marks suggests Swift has been dropping “hairpins” – a slang term implying one’s queerness – “long before queer identity was undeniably marketable to mainstream America.”
A “person close to the situation” condemned the article to CNN. They said it demonstrates how there’s “seemingly no boundary some journalists won’t cross when writing about Taylor, regardless of how invasive, untrue and inappropriate.”
They argue that the publication would not have featured a male celebrity “whose fans have questioned his sexuality.”
The insider added: “Because of [Swift’s] massive success, in this moment there is a Taylor-shaped hole in people’s ethics.”
Swift has vocally supported LGBTQ+ fans and spoken out for LGBTQ+ rights. But she says she isn’t a member of the community herself.
“I didn’t realise until recently that I could advocate for a community that I’m not a part of” – Taylor Swift
In a 2019 Vogue interview she said: “I didn’t realise until recently that I could advocate for a community that I’m not a part of.”
She also wrote in the liner notes for her recent 1989 (Taylor’s Version) album that focusing on female friendships didn’t stop constant bisexuality rumours by media. “If I only hung out with my female friends, people couldn’t sensationalise or sexualise that – right? I would learn later on that people could and people would.”
Taylor Swift’s prologue for #1989TaylorsVersion — Taylor Swift Updates (@SwiftNYC) October 27, 2023
“This moment is a reflection of the woods we’ve wandered through and all this love between us still glowing in the darkest dark.” pic.twitter.com/HGQDTPqKgo
It is rare for news outlets, even opinion sections, to publish speculation about a major celebrity’s sexuality in this manner. Against this backdrop, Marks writes: “I know that discussing the potential of a star’s queerness before a formal declaration of identity feels, to some, too salacious and gossip-fueled to be worthy of discussion.”
Recent examples of celebrities who have spoken about the difficulties of being forced to publicly address their sexuality when they weren’t ready include Heartstopper‘s Kit Connor, Rebel Wilson and Rita Ora.