She may be trying to become the next queen of the gays, but Swift will remain an erstwhile “Aryan goddess” until she forcefully proves otherwise.
By Noor Al-Sibai
Move over, Gaga — Taylor Swift is attempting a coup as she auditions for a new role as self-appointed queen of the gays, replete with a racist mercenary fanbase.
On June 14, halfway through the murkily-originated “WorldPride” month and two weeks shy of the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Inn riots, Swift took to the stage of that famed gay NYC establishment in a surprise performance joined by “Modern Family” actor Jesse Tyler Ferguson.
Swift’s Stonewall stunt, which occurred just one day after she released a single ostensibly aimed at homophobes titled “You Need to Calm Down” and two before she released the LGBTQ celeb-studded video for the song was unsurprisingly heralded as a phoned-in PR move from an almost-definitely-straight celebrity.
“I wonder how many queer people couldn’t visit [S]tonewall today so Taylor Swift could do her little publicity stunt,” one Twitter user mused on the night of the pop star’s surprise New York performance.
“Taylor Swift threw the first bachelorette party at Stonewall,” Crooked Media’s Louis Virtel joked, making a reference to the “threw the first brick at Stonewall” meme.
Intentions and public opinion aside, it’s worth noting that Swift has indeed become increasingly political over the years. She’s now vocal about her support for LGBTQ rights and at the end of the “You Need to Calm Down” video included a call for fans to sign her petition geared towards the passage of the identity-based Equality Act.
In the 2018 midterms encouraged her fans to vote for Democrats, noting that then-Tennessee Senate candidate Marsha Blackburn’s voting record on queer and trans rights “appalls and terrifies” her. In her statement, she also spoke out against “systemic racism.”
“In the past I’ve been reluctant to publicly voice my political opinions,” Swift wrote in a lengthy Instagram caption, “but due to several events in my life and in the world in the past two years, I feel very differently about that now.”
The country-pop songstress remains “reluctant,” it seems, to overtly denounce the neo-Nazis and white supremacists who consider her an “Aryan goddess” — even while purportedly promoting the rights of fascist-targeted groups.
After Swift endorsed Blackburn’s opponent and the Democratic Party, outlets like Vanity Fair and the Washington Post declared it an end to the “meme” that the artist enjoys the support of violent racists.
“[N]ow the lark is over,” VF’s Kenzie Bryant wrote, noting that the “Aryan goddess Taylor Swift” meme was orchestrated as a “joke” by the neo-Nazi Daily Stormer website and its fans on 4chan.
Bryant went on to quote Andrew Anglin, the site’s M.I.A. founder, who insisted that he and his ilk created the meme to get the Stormer “blacklisted.” Anglin, she wrote, “firmly restated that the ‘Aryan goddess’ thing was a joke,” and that his website hosts “ironic Nazism disguised as real Nazism disguised as ironic Nazism” — and anyway, Nazis rejected Swift after she endorsed Democrats, suggesting the move was tantamount to a denunciation.
Setting aside that dismissing “ironic Nazism” online has resulted in a lack of preparation for the real-world massacres and murders committed by fans of people like Anglin, the argument that Swift essentially denounced her fascist fanboys is based in a major and obvious fallacy. In an era where synagogues, mosques, Black churches, and gay clubs have all been attacked, when neo-Nazis march brazenly through towns and openly organize online, the only way to denounce white supremacists is to name them specifically.
It’s not unheard of for artists to call out their bigoted fans. After white supremacists marched with gear featuring the “Punisher skull” at the deadly “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, VA in 2017, the comic’s writer and co-creator Gerry Conway told Inverse that he was disgusted by how the symbol had been co-opted by the alt-right.
“They’re despicable human beings, and [‘The Punisher’] Frank Castle would have all of them in his crosshairs,” Conway said in December 2017. “The fact that white nationalists and Nazis embrace it is a tragic misunderstanding. It’s a misappropriation of the character and a blatant disregarding of reality. They literally do not know what they are fucking talking about.”
Jon Bernthal, the actor who plays Castle in Netflix’s adaptation of the popular vigilante comic series, didn’t parse words when it came to neo-Nazi “Punisher” fans.
“Fuck them,” he told Esquire in early 2018.
The current “Punisher” showrunners, it seems, took Bernthal and Conway’s sentiments to heart, making the villains in the latest installment religious Nazis and members of the alt-right.
Although still championed by police and military, the people behind “The Punisher” showed exactly how to draw an ideological line between themselves and the racists who would make the character into a fascist symbol — a lesson others, like Swift, could learn from.
Regardless of whether or not Swift is queer, how many LGBTQ friends she has and includes in her music videos, how many GLAAD donations she inspires and how many performances she does at famous gay clubs, the artist’s avowed support for queer and trans people and people of color rings incredibly hollow after years of silence on her neo-Nazi fanbase. She may be trying to become the next queen of the gays, but Swift will remain an erstwhile “Aryan goddess” until she forcefully proves otherwise.
Noor Al-Sibai is a journalist, part-time fascist hunter and cat mom. She previously worked at Bustle, Raw Story, and Feminspire. When she’s not cuddling or accosting her cat, she can often be found discussing sexuality or politics on Twitter, where she uses the handle @nooralsibai.
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