Taylor Swift is not a closeted lesbian, friends of the singer have said after a 5000 word article in the New York Times raised questions about her sexuality.
The 34-year-old superstar’s associates are reportedly outraged by the essay, which mines Swift’s back-catalogue and performances for “hairpins”, or clues, that she is homosexual.
The article claims the colours Taylor Swift wore in her “Lover Era” in 2019 – an array of pastel blue, purple and pink – were a reference to the bisexual pride flag.
It notes Swift released a video on Lesbian Visibility Day which was accompanied by a video of the star dancing at a Pride parade, and turning down a man’s marriage proposal in exchange for a pet cat.
The pop star also regularly wears dresses with a rainbow motif and “depicts herself as trapped in glass closets or, well, in regular closets”.
Anna Marks, an opinion editor at the New York Times, wrote: “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.
“Those dropped hairpins…suggest to queer people that she is one of us.”
Swift, who has repeatedly said she is a straight ally of the LGBT community, is dating Travis Kelce, an NFL star with the Kansas City Chiefs.
She has previously dated a number of fellow celebrities, including Matty Healy of the band 1975, the DJ Calvin Harris, as well as actors Tom Hiddlestone and Jake Gyllehenhaal.
Those close to Swift voiced anger at the crude attempt to “out” the star.
One told CNN: “Because of her massive success, in this moment there is a Taylor-shaped hole in people’s ethics.
“This article wouldn’t have been allowed to be written about Shawn Mendes or any male artist whose sexuality 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’.
James Bennett, the former opinion editor of the New York Times, wrote in December the newspaper had “lost its way” and become too cowed by the views of liberal staff members.
The nub of the piece by Ms Marks is that the star is reluctant to confess her sexuality because it would be professionally and commercially damaging.
Taylor-shaped ethical hole
Marks wrestles with the ethics of talking about a star’s sexuality in ways that contradict her own public statements.
“I know that discussing the potential of a star’s queerness before a formal declaration of identity feels, to some, too salacious and gossip-fuelled to be worthy of discussion,” she wrote.
But “would it truly be better to wait to talk about any of this for 50, 60, 70 years, until Ms Swift whispers her life story to a biographer?
“I think not. And so, I must say, as loudly as I can, ‘I can see you’, even if I risk foolishness for doing so.”
Marks also finds “hairpins” in Swift’s song-writing.
She says the description of the “muse” in some songs, including Nice to Have a Friend, Maroon or Hits Different, “seems to fit only a woman”.
There are also “unfulfilled rhyme schemes” that suggest “a female muse”, including on The Very First Night:
“‘Didn’t read the note on the Polaroid picture / they don’t know how much I miss you’ (“her,” instead of that pesky little “you,” would rhyme).”
In the piece, Marks raises questions about the nature of Swift’s relationship with Kelce: “romance for the ages? strategic brand partnership? performance art for entertainment’s sake?”
She also wonders at one point whether she is reading too much into Swift’s work, writing of her the first time she viewed Lover through “the prism of queerness”:
“I felt delirious, almost insane. I kept wondering whether what I was perceiving in her work was truly there or if it was merely a mirage, born of earnest projection.”
Writing on X, one fan described the piece as “sexist and grossly inappropriate”.
Another added: “This is the kind of garbage that belongs in the supermarket checkout next to the National Enquirer” – a mass circulation scandal sheet.