A controversial New York Times opinion piece that openly speculated this week whether Taylor Swift is a closeted queer person has drawn the ire of the pop superstar’s ᴀssociates, CNN has learned.
“Because of her mᴀssive success, in this moment there is a Taylor-shaped hole in people’s ethics,” a person close to the situation, who requested anonymity to speak candidly, told CNN. “This article wouldn’t have been allowed to be written about Shawn Mendes or any male artist whose Sєxuality has been questioned by fans.”
“There seems to be no boundary some journalists won’t cross when writing about Taylor, regardless of how invasive, untrue, and inappropriate it is – all under the protective veil of an ‘opinion piece,’” the person added.
In the 5,000-word piece, written in The Times’ opinion section, editor Anna Marks strung together a long list of LGBTQ references — some overt, some perceived — Swift has weaved into her songs and performances. Marks suggested that Swift had, perhaps, for years been trying to signal that she identifies with the queer community.
“In isolation, a single dropped hairpin is perhaps meaningless or accidental, but considered together, they’re the unfurling of a ballerina bun after a long performance,” Marks wrote. “Those dropped hairpins began to appear in Ms. Swift’s artistry long before queer idenтιтy was undeniably marketable to mainstream America. They suggest to queer people that she is one of us.”
Swift has in the past embraced the LGBTQ community, taking stands in support of her fans amid a record number of anti-gay bills introduced around the country, calling her concerts a “safe space” for LGBTQ people. But she has denied that she is a member of the LGBTQ community. In a 2019 interview with Vogue magazine, Swift said she has simply aimed to be a good ally to the LGBTQ community as their rights come under attack.
“Rights are being stripped from basically everyone who isn’t a straight white cisgender male,” Swift told the magazine. “I didn’t realize until recently that I could advocate for a community that I’m not a part of.”
Swift also wrote in the prologue to her re-recorded “1989” album, which was released last year, that she surrounded herself with female friends because society speculated incessantly about whether she was romantically involved with males she was publicly seen with.
“If I only hung out with my female friends, people couldn’t sensationalize or Sєxualize that — right? I would learn later on that people could and people would,” she wrote.
It is highly unusual for a reputable news organization like The Times to publish an article speculating on a person’s Sєxuality, let alone a figure of immense cultural significance who has previously denied the insinuations. Such pieces are widely considered to be inappropriate, and The Times received some criticism from readers for its decision to publish its piece on Swift.
Marks, seemingly aware of the article’s questionable ᴀssertions, preemptively addressed critics in the piece, writing, “I know that discussing the potential of a star’s queerness before a formal declaration of idenтιтy feels, to some, too salacious and gossip-fueled to be worthy of discussion.”
“I share many of these reservations,” Marks wrote. “But the stories that dominate our collective imagination shape what our culture permits artists and their audiences to say and be. Every time an artist signals queerness and that transmission falls on deaf ears, that signal dies. Recognizing the possibility of queerness — while being conscious of the difference between possibility and certainty — keeps that signal alive.”
A spokesperson for The Times declined to comment directly on the criticism from Swift’s ᴀssociates and pointed to what Marks wrote in the published essay about the matter.