At any given moment, thousands, if not millions, of people are hard at work figuring out exactly what is going on in Taylor Swift’s life. Following her appearance at the Golden Globes, you may be fixated on why she was there. (Her concert film was nominated for Cinematic and Box Office Achievement, duh!) Or maybe you’re desperate to know what she was whispering about with Selena Gomez. But thanks to a particularly unhinged New York Times op-ed, another element of Swift’s private life is in the spotlight this week: her sexual orientation.
The New York Times ran an op-ed that heavily speculated about Swift’s queerness.
It started on January 4, when the Times published an op-ed by editor Anna Marks that not-so-subtly asked, in 5,000 words, “What if Taylor Swift were gay?” This is not a new notion — plenty of fans (including some here at New York) have spent the past decade wondering if Swift’s relationship with Karlie Kloss was more than a friendship. Various pieces of the star’s work, most notably her rainbow-coated Lovers era and the lyrics to “Betty,” have also fueled the flames of the bisexual rumor mill.
But Marks took things a little further than the realm of gossip. Citing a long list of what she considers coded messages — unexpected pronoun choice, closet imagery, pointed allyship — Marks confidently made the case for the “sapphic possibility” of Swift’s oeuvre. She went so far as to claim that some queer people feel Swift has “already come out, at least to us.” The general vibe is a very long, persuasive essay arguing that Swift (who, for the record, has only ever publicly dated men) is gay as hell.
The piece was (understandably) not well received.
Marks’s op-ed prompted a fair amount of outrage online, where even those of us who enjoy the occasional Gaylor theories found these assertions — and the fact that they were made in an esteemed national newspaper — a few steps too far.
Country singer Chely Wright also took issue with the op-ed, which used her story of coming out to underpin Marks’s argument that the country-music industry often suppresses closeted artists. (Wright came out in 2010 and revealed that she had contemplated suicide four years prior.) The musician wrote on X that the piece was “triggering for me to read — not because the writer mentioned my nearly ending my life — but seeing a public person’s sexuality being discussed is upsetting.”
Swift’s team is reportedly among the offended parties.
The army of PR mavens that stands behind Swift is also reportedly ticked off about the piece. On Saturday, an anonymous “associate” of the singer told CNN that her entire team — which, obviously, includes the inimitable Tree Paine — is absolutely furious. “Because of her massive success,” the source theorized, “there is a Taylor-shaped hole in people’s ethics.” As a result, “there seems to be no boundary some journalists won’t cross when writing about Taylor, regardless of how invasive, untrue, and inappropriate it is.” The source (is that you, Tree?) added that “this article wouldn’t have been allowed to be written about Shawn Mendes or any male artist whose sexuality has been questioned by fans.”
While I’m not sure we can apply the all-encompassing paintbrush of sexism to this particular scenario — Marks made a similar argument about Harry Styles a few years back — I can see why Swift’s team would be mad. This woman has seen years of egregious privacy violations, many of them about her dating life. Perhaps dedicating 5,000 words to her sexual orientation is piling on.