What makes an LGBTQ+ ally?
This is a question many people usually ask during Pride Month, especially when a cisgender, heterosexual person expresses their support of the LGBTQ+ community. This year, the discussion became heated after Taylor Swift released her video for “You Need to Calm Down.”
If you haven’t seen the video, it had several rainbows and imagery of the LGBTQ+ community, from the diverse star-studded cast to the call to action for the Equality Act at the end. It’s clear that Taylor wanted this to be a show of support to the community during Pride Month. But many aren’t convinced.
In the past, Taylor has mostly been quiet about anything political. When she does speak on certain issues, it mostly comes off as “self-serving.” It also reeks of white feminism, which is a concept wherein cisgendered, able-bodied, middle to upper-class White people only support matters that benefit them. It excludes those who are in the opposite side.
As Bustle noted: “The singer has a documented habit of using the word and the ideology to build up her brand and sell concert tickets without putting in the political work. And when she does speak out on important issues, it’s usually only when they affect, or have affected, her or her predominantly [White] group of friends.”
That said, many are observing that Taylor’s doing the same thing using the LGBTQ+ community. Forbes pointed out that the singer may simply be profiting off of them. However, the outlet also said she’s helping them out by using her influence to raise awareness. After all, Taylor has a large fanbase made of young people, and advocating for the US Equality Act will give millions of people the ability to extend their support to the community.
It’s a weird gray area. However, it does seem like the LGBTQ+ themes in “You Need to Calm Down” is tokenistic. This was underscored by the end of the video which shows Taylor Swift and Katy Perry hugging it out after a years-long feud.
Which begs the question: Is “You Need to Calm Down” really a gay anthem? Or is it merely a call-out of every hater which is disguised as a gay anthem?
Straight people as LGBTQ+ allies
In light of this discussion, many have argued that Taylor isn’t a true LGBTQ+ ally because she’s a straight White woman. There were also people who said that those who consider themselves allies were usually closeted. While the other side would argue that one doesn’t need to be part of the community to extend their alliance.
One cannot simply assign oneself the status of "ally" to the community they aren't part of, especially when they haven't lived the experiences of marginalization. It's co-opting.
And pwede ba, if you're going to take cheap shots, gawin mo naman funny. https://t.co/DbF5jiTpnF
— Nathania (@PilosopoTanya) June 16, 2019
dont @ me pero..i kinda think na part sila ng community dahil may part ng allies na closeted individuals?? uso yung ganun daw sa gay straight alliances in the US that theyre called GSAs instead of pride orgs kasi marami ang closeted teens given na theyre in their formative years
— ??? ???? (@genuestella) June 20, 2019
Look: If you’re going to criticize Taylor as an LGBTQ+ ally, her being a straight White woman is irrelevant. People should be focusing on her intentions and how she’s conveying this support of the community.
It’s also not true that one should be part of the LGBTQ+ community, nor closeted to be an ally. They are humans who are merely asking for respect and acceptance like everyone else. If you’re part of the “privileged” community, you should acknowledge that and find ways to help the marginalized community the best you can.
To quote GANDA Filipinas founder Naomi Fontanos: “If you are not LGBTIQ+ but consider yourself an ally, be a good one by using your privilege to protect those who are LGBTIQ+ from discrimination and violence. Call out policies, practices, and behaviors that harm LGBTIQ+ people directly and indirectly.”
It is also about being empathetic and listening to their experiences. “As a straight person, you’ll never be able to *really* know what it’s like to walk around the world in their shoes, but the more you listen, the more you can be empathetic,” Hello Giggles noted.
So whether it’s Taylor Swift or someone else, one shouldn’t question someone’s gender identity and sexual orientation when they express their alliance to LGBTQ+ people. Look beyond that and see who’s doing right by the community—be it during Pride Month or the rest of the year.
Photo courtesy of Taylor Swift’s Instagram account
For the latest in culture, fashion, beauty, and celebrities, subscribe to our weekly newsletter here
Taylor Swift urges Senate to sign Equality Act in “You Need to Calm Down” MV
We need to talk about what “equality” really means for the LGBTQ+ community
Taylor Swift is a master of putting easter eggs in her MVs
The new Taylor Swift era is so infectiously pastel