Why obsess over Taylor Swift’s sexuality when there are more openly queer musicians than ever?

Sometimes a piece of content is perfectly designed to send various parts of the internet into a Tasmanian devil-style (cartoon NOT animal) whirlwind. The latest one surrounds a 5,000-word opinion piece written for the New York Times by an editor and member of the Gaylor community – people who theorise that Taylor Swift is secretly queer and has left clues and codes along her career to indicate so. The piece validated the corner of the internet that believes the theory, and caused controversy in three others , including a source in Swift’s camp, who called it sexist and unethical. There was swift response to this Swift Response, with many pointing out that male artists face the same scrutiny, and that Swift has a history of leading fans along with clues and secrets and Easter eggs.

While I am not personally a Swiftie, some of my best friends are, and I am an ally. I also have probably more than the average level of empathy for the Gaylor position, as someone with my (search) history. As the opinion piece discusses, queer communities have always had to find each other using clues and codes and flags and this one handy trick that doctors hate! It is not crazy for people like us to look more closely at a situation, to make sure we haven’t missed something gay. The difference is that before now, queer people had to do that. We didn’t have other options, and neither did the queer artists themselves. Openly LGBTQ+ characters, actors and musicians were extremely scarce. There were no hot-but-cringe TikTok lesbians (I miss those days). Literally, and I mean literally, the only way to find queerness was to feverishly comb through the subtext, guess, hope, or fill in gaps with our gay little minds.

In 2024, this doesn’t really need to happen. Queerphobia is still definitely an issue in terms of artist’s careers of course, but it does not have the same stranglehold it once did, and you can’t swing a stick without hitting some sort of gay person on television or the wireless (old). But for some reason this hasn’t stopped the obsessive speculating. Even when the public figures either confirm their sexuality one way, or display discomfort at the analysing, it doesn’t stop. We have had relatively easy access to queer public figures for a while now, and for some people that’s been true their entire lives. Maybe when you are spoiled for choice, when representation abounds, all that is left is wanting the singer you really personally relate to and like to be queer like you. It feels like a different kind of obsessive. There is being curious about someone’s sexuality, and there is being so desperate to have proof of an individual’s queerness that it becomes at the very least annoying, and sometimes damaging. Harry Styles, Billie Eilish, and Shawn Mendes have all spoken out about their uneasiness with speculation about their sexualities. A year ago, the 18-year-old Heartstopper star Kit Connor felt forced to come out as bisexual after intense scrutiny about his dating life.

I understand relating to someone’s music, or their art, and desperately wanting them to be like you. I understand being sad if you think someone is closeted because of society (unrelated, but please remember Taylor is the most powerful woman in the world). I understand getting frustrated that someone may want to use a queer aesthetic and speak in vague terms or drop clues and lead you along, especially if they are doing it to get your money. What I can’t understand is continuing to obsess about the sexuality of people who don’t want to talk about it. They’re either straight, not comfortable being out for whatever reason, or using queerness (and you) to sell albums, without wanting to commit fully. Those are the three options, and in each of those cases, I’m personally good to move on. For me, it all comes down to the fact that all of this is deeply unnecessary. We are living in a time with more openly queer musicians than ever, and we are spoiled with immediately available access to queer artists of any genre.

Why spend your time hunting for subtle clues when you can watch Lil Nas X have hot gay football sex in his music videos? When you have at your fingertips Phoebe Bridgers’ sad bisexual songs, Orville Peck’s mournful country tunes, Chappell Roan’s pop bangers, etc, etc, etc? There are extremely talented queer singers at every level writing every genre of song and often singing about their queer lives and loves and bodies and experiences.