in article about queer Taylor Swift songs, illustration of Swift in a rainbow outfit
Illustration by Julia Reddell, George Fox University
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in article about queer Taylor Swift songs, illustration of Swift in a rainbow outfit
Illustration by Julia Reddell, George Fox University

Regardless of the artist’s sexuality, LGBTQ+ fans find representation in her music.

Taylor Swift is a great songwriter, though some would disagree. People hesitate to acknowledge her talent because Swift often releases her worst songs as singles — well, aside from her last four eras: “folklore,” “evermore,” “Fearless (Taylor’s Version)” and “Red (Taylor’s Version).” When Swift was just 19 years old, she wrote all 14 songs on her album “Speak Now” by herself. Fans can find all of the songs for which she is the sole songwriter here.

Recently, there has been drama within the fanbase between self-proclaimed “hetlors,” fans who believe Swift is straight, and “gaylors,” fans who believe that Swift is in the closet and that her relationship with long-term boyfriend Joe Alwyn is fake. I personally identify as neither. While I believe that Swift could be bisexual due to her rumored relationships with Karlie Kloss and Dianna Agron from “Glee,” I don’t think it is my job to force her out of a closet that may not even exist in the first place. I also don’t think that any of Swift’s fans should be attacked, harassed or doxxed — a term that describes the release of a person’s personal information online without their consent — for their opinions. However, regardless of Swift’s sexuality, I do believe that I can relate to her music and that many more queer people can too.

Can a Song Be an NFT?
Can a Song Be an NFT?

What truly makes Swift a great songwriter is that she creates music that almost anybody can relate to. Many of her fans have been listening to her songs since the mid to late 2000s, and 15 years later, they are still listening. They have grown up alongside her music. While Swift has been known to openly date only men, she still writes songs that queer people can identify with. While I cannot speak for the entire LGBTQ+ community, there are a few songs that I relate to as a bisexual, nonbinary individual.

1. “Dress”

Most, if not all, queer people have or had a friend that they totally had a crush on while in the closet. I definitely had one. We were friends for a long time, and when we split ways during our senior year of high school, it hurt more than any breakup ever would. I didn’t know why until years later. If you analyze “Dress” from a queer perspective, the song and my experience are more related than they first seem. The lyrics “I don’t want you like a best friend,” which are repeated throughout the song, allude to feelings stronger than just friendship.

2. “The Very First Night”

“The Very First Night” reminds me of a sleepover between two girls that may or may not be dating. The song is very catchy but still sweet. One lyric that I would like to point out is, “Didn’t read the note on the Polaroid picture / They don’t know how much I miss you.” The phrase messed with the heads of some of Swift’s fans because, if the song were to rhyme, the second line would’ve ended with “her” instead of “you.” Some argue such a change can’t be done because of grammatical rules, but many songs on the radio go against the rules of the English language that we learn in school.

3. “How You Get The Girl”

Swift’s “How You Get The Girl” could be considered queer because the lyrics are like a field guide to winning back a girl. The song is useful to anyone who loves women — and it’s catchy:  “And then you say / I want you for worse or for better / I would wait forever and ever / Broke your heart, I’ll put it back together / I would wait forever and ever / And that’s how it works / That’s how you get the girl.” I’m sure a lot of other queer fans resonate with “How You Get The Girl” because, like me, they enjoy the idea of a girl who will stay with them. And it’s a good song to bop along to.

4. “Fearless”

The song “Fearless” doesn’t initially sound queer, but it can be interpreted as such because, for many queer people, being with a partner can be scary at first. The song is about being brave and loving someone out loud despite your fear. Lines like “And I don’t know how but with you I’d dance / in a storm in my best dress, fearless” remind me of when I first came out. Back then, just walking with a girl and holding her hand felt like a risk. But I loved it. Loving women gives me the same feeling as dancing in a beautiful summer rainstorm, just as Swift describes.

5. “the lakes”

“The lakes” is a song about longing to escape. The chorus goes, “Take me to the lakes where all the poets went to die / I don’t belong / and my beloved, neither do you.” The song’s main character wants to run away from people who don’t understand her and her love, as noted in the lyric, “those hunters with cellphones.” I especially love the line about a rose blooming through the icy ground with, as Swift says, “no one around to tweet it.” The song reminds me of how many queer people just want to exist without the fear of being judged or gawked at.

If you’re interested in more songs by Swift that can be analyzed as queer or are generally relatable to those in the LGBTQ+ community, this article is a good read. Swift isn’t afraid to write about what it feels like to have and lose love, which is always a treat to hear. Whether her music is queer or not, I will always give it a chance.

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