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Taylor Swift accused of 'using LGBTQ people as props' in new music video

Suzy Byrne
Editor, Yahoo Entertainment

Taylor Swift’s new “You Need to Calm Down” video did the unthinkable — it brought her together with former feud-mate Katy Perry — but there have been critics of the overall theme.

Perry was just one celebrity making a cameo in the pop star’s song, which heavily featured LGBTQ stars, including the Queer Eye crew, Ellen DeGeneres, Adam Lambert, Laverne Cox, RuPaul, Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Billy Porter. Timed with Pride month, Swift sings about how “shade never made anybody less gay,” and name-checks GLAAD while imagery of same-sex marriage and drag performances play out. It ended with a call to sign a petition for the passage of the Equality Act.

While Swift using her platform to get political is applause-worthy — she had famously been politically neutral until speaking out against Republican Senator Marsha Blackburn in 2018 — many have issues with this song and video.

The Atlantic called it a “queasy double message” in which the “singer’s pro-gay single strangely compares her struggles with fame to more dangerous kinds of persecution.” The writer noted, “The entire song, indeed, subsumes queerness into Swift’s narratives. Its breathtaking argument: that famous people are persecuted in a way meaningfully comparable to queer people.”

Vox writes that Swift wants the song to be “a queer anthem,” yet it “also wants to sell you something.” It says she’s “speaking out in support of LGBTQ causes at a time that’s financially convenient, borrowing from subcultures that have already been proven to be lucrative (drag, for instance) and incorporating them into her brand.”

In a piece about the song, Esquire writes that while Swift’s “gesture is nice,” her “attempt to marry the personal with the political is a baffling parallel. Equating online haters with the personal and societal struggle of LGBTQ+ people is, at best, tone deaf.”

The Onion even spoofed the video with its “Taylor Swift Inspires Teen to Come Out As Straight Woman Needing to Be at Center of Gay Rights Narrative.”

Twitter is filled with similar sentiments. While there is a general appreciation for her attempt, they don’t think the execution was right.

Though many appreciate that she’s an ally.

Several pointed out that a video like this could have helped them when they were younger and struggling with their identity:

And some said she would have been criticized no matter what.

Many of those featured in the video posted about being glad to be a part of it:

And some maybe wished they were?

Swift said she would be getting political on her seventh studio album, Lover, which is expected on Aug. 23. “I’m not planning to stop encouraging young people to vote and to try to get them to talk about what’s going on in our country,” she said in May. “I think that’s one of the most important things I could do.”

The singer gave a surprise performance Friday night at the Stonewall Inn — the LGBTQ rights landmark — in New York's Greenwich Village.

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