Taylor Swift's new video is an homage to LGBTQ rights. But critics are calling her a 'performative ally.'

Taylor Swift's new single, "You Need to Calm Down," is supposed to support the LGBTQ community, but some members of the community are calling out Swift for being a performative ally.

The video for the song, which has elements of camp, begins with a Pink Flamingos reference and ends with a plea to support the Equal Rights Act. GLAAD did see a spike in donations after Swift seemingly showed her support, but she's also been accused of missing the point regarding the struggles for acceptance that many gay people experience.

It turns out, there's a lot that's wrong with "You Need to Calm Down." Where do we begin?


In her song, Swift compares dealing with online "haters" to hate crimes, as if they're on the same level. "It's a breathtaking argument: that famous people are persecuted in a way meaningfully comparable to queer people," Spencer Kornhaber pointed out in The Atlantic. Reading mean comments about yourself sucks, but it is a far cry from "a parent who disowns a trans kid, or a lawmaker who tries to nullify same-sex marriages," as Kornhaber stated.


Some people feel that Swift is supporting LGBTQ people because doing so supports herself more. "Feels to me like a version of straight cis white girl pop star advocacy — not the most effective thing, but not as calculated and hollow as the other branded opportunist pride campaigns of late," trans filmmaker Rhys Ernst said in IndieWire.

Additionally, the portrayal of anti-gay protesters as "bumpkins" has gotten some flack as well, partly because it can further incite hate. "If there's one thing that has been shown to get through to homophobes, it is casting them as ugly and poorly-educated. They take it to heart and it works every single time and it is a shame more people don't do this," Dave Holmes joked in Esquire.

Of course, plenty of people are also standing up for Swift pointing out that even an imperfect ally is far better than the alternative.



Some of the criticism of Swift stems from those who felt she was silent for too long about LGBTQ issues. Swift stayed silent during the 2016 election. Some see Swift's video as too little, too late.

"When it comes to making public statements in support of these issues, Taylor waited a relatively long time: until after Katy Perry, after Lady Gaga, after Kacey Musgraves," Jon Caramanica wrote in the New York Times.

Swift ends the video by taking away from the message she was trying to make through her inclusion of longtime rival Katy Perry. "There's something risible about the idea of these two straight, well-intended, politically hapless women providing the dismount for a plea for equal rights while actual gay people have just been throwing gay-wedding cake all over each other," Wesley Morris wrote in the New York Times.

Last but not least, it just seems like Swift is trying too hard to make herself into a gay icon. "One of the underlying sources of frustration here is the idea that Swift is trying to appoint herself as a gay icon with 'You Need to Calm Down,' which isn't how icons are created," Tony Bravo wrote in the San Francisco Chronical. "Garland, Taylor, Ross and Madonna did not announce themselves as gay icons; the gay community did. Checking all the boxes of gay references is not the way to build a genuine and enduring relationship with any community — especially not the gay community, who can usually detect an impostor designer fragrance."

We're waiting for Swift's next single to come out, "Sorry I Was Only Friends with You When It Was Convenient for Me."

Images courtesy of Mark Storhaug & Kaiya Bates

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The experiences we have at school tend to stay with us throughout our lives. It's an impactful time where small acts of kindness, encouragement, and inspiration go a long way.

Schools, classrooms, and teachers that are welcoming and inclusive support students' development and help set them up for a positive and engaging path in life.

Here are three of our favorite everyday actions that are spreading kindness on campus in a big way:

Image courtesy of Mark Storhaug

1. Pickleball to Get Fifth Graders Moving

Mark Storhaug is a 5th grade teacher at Kingsley Elementary in Los Angeles, who wants to use pickleball to get his students "moving on the playground again after 15 months of being Zombies learning at home."

Pickleball is a paddle ball sport that mixes elements of badminton, table tennis, and tennis, where two or four players use solid paddles to hit a perforated plastic ball over a net. It's as simple as that.

Kingsley Elementary is in a low-income neighborhood where outdoor spaces where kids can move around are minimal. Mark's goal is to get two or three pickleball courts set up in the schoolyard and have kids join in on what's quickly becoming a national craze. Mark hopes that pickleball will promote movement and teamwork for all his students. He aims to take advantage of the 20-minute physical education time allotted each day to introduce the game to his students.

Help Mark get his students outside, exercising, learning to cooperate, and having fun by donating to his GoFundMe.

Image courtesy of Kaiya Bates

2. Staying C.A.L.M: Regulation Kits for Kids

According to the WHO around 280 million people worldwide suffer from depression. In the US, 1 in 5 adults experience mental illness and 1 in 20 experience severe mental illness, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Kaiya Bates, who was recently crowned Miss Tri-Cities Outstanding Teen for 2022, is one of those people, and has endured severe anxiety, depression, and selective mutism for most of her life.

Through her GoFundMe, Kaiya aims to use her "knowledge to inspire and help others through their mental health journey and to spread positive and factual awareness."

She's put together regulation kits (that she's used herself) for teachers to use with students who are experiencing stress and anxiety. Each "CALM-ing" kit includes a two-minute timer, fidget toolboxes, storage crates, breathing spheres, art supplies and more.

Kaiya's GoFundMe goal is to send a kit to every teacher in every school in the Pasco School District in Washington where she lives.

To help Kaiya achieve her goal, visit Staying C.A.L.M: Regulation Kits for Kids.

Image courtesy of Julie Tarman

3. Library for a high school heritage Spanish class

Julie Tarman is a high school Spanish teacher in Sacramento, California, who hopes to raise enough money to create a Spanish language class library.

The school is in a low-income area, and although her students come from Spanish-speaking homes, they need help building their fluency, confidence, and vocabulary through reading Spanish language books that will actually interest them.

Julie believes that creating a library that affirms her students' cultural heritage will allow them to discover the joy of reading, learn new things about the world, and be supported in their academic futures.

To support Julie's GoFundMe, visit Library for a high school heritage Spanish class.

Do YOU have an idea for a fundraiser that could make a difference? Upworthy and GoFundMe are celebrating ideas that make the world a better, kinder place. Visit upworthy.com/kindness to join the largest collaboration for human kindness in history and start your own GoFundMe.

Image is a representation of the grandfather, not the anonymous subject of the story.

Eight years a go, a grandfather in Michigan wrote a powerful letter to his daughter after she kicked out her son out of the house for being gay. It's so perfectly written that it crops up on social media every so often.

The letter is beautiful because it's written by a man who may not be with the times, but his heart is in the right place.

It first appeared on the Facebook page FCKH8 and a representative told Gawker that the letter was given to them by Chad, the 16-year-old boy referenced in the letter.

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When a pet is admitted to a shelter it can be a traumatizing experience. Many are afraid of their new surroundings and are far from comfortable showing off their unique personalities. The problem is that's when many of them have their photos taken to appear in online searches.

Chewy, the pet retailer who has dedicated themselves to supporting shelters and rescues throughout the country, recognized the important work of a couple in Tampa, FL who have been taking professional photos of shelter pets to help get them adopted.

"If it's a photo of a scared animal, most people, subconsciously or even consciously, are going to skip over it," pet photographer Adam Goldberg says. "They can't visualize that dog in their home."

Adam realized the importance of quality shelter photos while working as a social media specialist for the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

"The photos were taken top-down so you couldn't see the size of the pet, and the flash would create these red eyes," he recalls. "Sometimes [volunteers] would shoot the photos through the chain-link fences."

That's why Adam and his wife, Mary, have spent much of their free time over the past five years photographing over 1,200 shelter animals to show off their unique personalities to potential adoptive families. The Goldbergs' wonderful work was recently profiled by Chewy in the video above entitled, "A Day in the Life of a Shelter Pet Photographer."