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."

Leah Menzies/TikTok

Leah Menzies had no idea her deceased mother was her boyfriend's kindergarten teacher.

When you start dating the love of your life, you want to share it with the people closest to you. Sadly, 18-year-old Leah Menzies couldn't do that. Her mother died when she was 7, so she would never have the chance to meet the young woman's boyfriend, Thomas McLeodd. But by a twist of fate, it turns out Thomas had already met Leah's mom when he was just 3 years old. Leah's mom was Thomas' kindergarten teacher.

The couple, who have been dating for seven months, made this realization during a visit to McCleodd's house. When Menzies went to meet his family for the first time, his mom (in true mom fashion) insisted on showing her a picture of him making a goofy face. When they brought out the picture, McLeodd recognized the face of his teacher as that of his girlfriend's mother.

Menzies posted about the realization moment on TikTok. "Me thinking my mum (who died when I was 7) will never meet my future boyfriend," she wrote on the video. The video shows her and McLeodd together, then flashes to the kindergarten class picture.

“He opens this album and then suddenly, he’s like, ‘Oh my God. Oh my God — over and over again,” Menzies told TODAY. “I couldn’t figure out why he was being so dramatic.”

Obviously, Menzies is taking great comfort in knowing that even though her mother is no longer here, they can still maintain a connection. I know how important it was for me to have my mom accept my partner, and there would definitely be something missing if she wasn't here to share in my joy. It's also really incredible to know that Menzies' mother had a hand in making McLeodd the person he is today, even if it was only a small part.

@speccylee

Found out through this photo in his photo album. A moment straight out of a movie 🥲

♬ iris - 🫶

“It’s incredible that that she knew him," Menzies said. "What gets me is that she was standing with my future boyfriend and she had no idea.”

Since he was only 3, McLeodd has no actual memory of Menzies' mother. But his own mother remembers her as “kind and really gentle.”

The TikTok has understandably gone viral and the comments are so sweet and positive.

"No the chills I got omggg."

"This is the cutest thing I have watched."

"It’s as if she remembered some significance about him and sent him to you. Love fate 😍✨"

In the caption of the video, she said that discovering the connection between her boyfriend and her mom was "straight out of a movie." And if you're into romantic comedies, you're definitely nodding along right now.

Menzies and McLeodd made a follow-up TikTok to address everyone's positive response to their initial video and it's just as sweet. The young couple sits together and addresses some of the questions they noticed pop up. People were confused that they kept saying McLeodd was in kindergarten but only 3 years old when he was in Menzies' mother's class. The couple is Australian and Menzies explained that it's the equivalent of American preschool.

They also clarified that although they went to high school together and kind of knew of the other's existence, they didn't really get to know each other until they started dating seven months ago. So no, they truly had no idea that her mother was his teacher. Menzies revealed that she "didn't actually know that my mum taught at kindergarten."

"I just knew she was a teacher," she explained.

She made him act out his reaction to seeing the photo, saying he was "speechless," and when she looked at the photo she started crying. McLeodd recognized her mother because of the pictures Menzies keeps in her room. Cue the "awws," because this is so cute, I'm kvelling.

Photo by Heather Mount on Unsplash

Actions speak far louder than words.

It never fails. After a tragic mass shooting, social media is filled with posts offering thoughts and prayers. Politicians give long-winded speeches on the chamber floor or at press conferences asking Americans to do the thing they’ve been repeatedly trained to do after tragedy: offer heartfelt thoughts and prayers. When no real solution or plan of action is put forth to stop these senseless incidents from occurring so frequently in a country that considers itself a world leader, one has to wonder when we will be honest with ourselves about that very intangible automatic phrase.

Comedian Anthony Jeselnik brilliantly summed up what "thoughts and prayers" truly mean. In a 1.5-minute clip, Jeselnik talks about victims' priorities being that of survival and not wondering if they’re trending at that moment. The crowd laughs as he mimics the actions of well-meaning social media users offering thoughts and prayers after another mass shooting. He goes on to explain how the act of performatively offering thoughts and prayers to victims and their families really pulls the focus onto the author of the social media post and away from the event. In the short clip he expertly expresses how being performative on social media doesn’t typically equate to action that will help victims or enact long-term change.

Of course, this isn’t to say that thoughts and prayers aren’t welcomed or shouldn’t be shared. According to Rabbi Jack Moline "prayer without action is just noise." In a world where mass shootings are so common that a video clip from 2015 is still relevant, it's clear that more than thoughts and prayers are needed. It's important to examine what you’re doing outside of offering thoughts and prayers on social media. In another several years, hopefully this video clip won’t be as relevant, but at this rate it’s hard to see it any differently.

Family

Two sisters ask their stepmom to adopt them with sweet memory book

"We were already calling her mom because it felt so natural."

Gabriella Ruvolo/TikTok

Gabriella and Julianna Ruvolo asked their stepmom to adopt them in a touching video.

Sisters Gabriella and Julianna Ruvolo know that they're extremely lucky. Their stepmom Becky Ruvolo has been there for them for most of their lives and it's clear that they're grateful to her for it. On May 9, Gabriella posted a video to TikTok to share the very special way the young women honored their stepmom for Mother's Day.

In the short clip, you can see Becky flanked by the two girls, flipping through a book. On the video are the words "After 12 years… we finally asked our step-mom to adopt us." As Becky goes through the pages, you can see her becoming increasingly more emotional before she gets to the last page. By then, all three of the women are crying.

Keep Reading Show less