If you’re a lesbian, chances are that when I say “Kaylor”, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about.
For the uninitiated, let me introduce you to your new favourite conspiracy theory: Taylor Swift and Karlie Kloss (Kaylor) have been in a secret relationship for years, and their respective (male) partners are both part of an elaborate cover-up to keep their sexuality a secret.
There’s a whole Tumblr blog dedicated to time-lining the Kaylor relationship and let me tell you, it’s fascinating. Sure, it’s a little far-fetched. Taylor has been dating British actor Joe Alwyn for nearly three years, and Karlie is married to Josh Kushner (yes, the brother of Ivanka Trump’s husband). But still, the idea that Taylor Swift is bisexual is a popular one.
It all came to a head in the last two weeks, when Taylor started promoting new music teases with a series of clues on Instagram. While the majority of fans saw nothing but innocent pictures, Taylor’s queer fan base immediately read into it. Surely she was about to come out. She posed in a power suit, put rainbow filters on her photos, and used a disproportionate amount of blue, pink, and purple – the bisexual pride colours.
At a performance last week, fans were certain she changed the pronouns in one of her songs to “her”. She uploaded a photo of chickens in sunglasses, aka cool chicks. Of all the days in the year to drop music, she chose April 26, Lesbian Visibility Day. She commissioned a mural in Nashville that looked a lot like the Victoria’s Secret Wings that Karlie wore at the 2013 show.
As a lesbian who has been a 'swiftie' since I was a teen, I love entertaining the idea that Taylor is one of us.
The same year the pair walked the runway together. Her queer fans were like a giant eyes emoji, just waiting for her to come out, caught up in the clues and so certain we were right.
Obviously, she didn’t come out. Now the dust has settled and the excitement from seeing Taylor in a suit has worn off, I can see those “clues” for what they were. Or more, for what they weren’t.
There’s no reason for Taylor to hide her sexuality – it was probably more potentially damaging for her career when she came out as a Democrat last year. If it is true, there’s nothing worse than trying to drag someone out of the closet. But as a lesbian who loves gossip culture, and has been a Swiftie since I was a teen, I love entertaining the idea that Taylor is one of us.
I’ve frequented the personal life section of celebrities on Wikipedia more times than I can count. I feel a strange affinity with queer celebrities, one which is hard to put into words. They instantly seem more likeable and more relatable. When the majority of pop singers are straight, you can’t blame queer girls for wanting someone out there on our team.
If even the most ambiguous of signs is there, we’re going to seize it and hold on for dear life. It’s like when the whole world (or maybe just a subsect of gay Twitter) thought Kendall Jenner was about to come out, but all she did was announce herself as the new spokesperson for Proactiv skincare. Why do we read so much into things that aren’t quite there and make tenuous connections? Maybe Taylor just likes cats, suits, and pastel colours. Maybe Kendall just doesn’t want to date dudes, that doesn’t make her gay.
As queer people in a straight world, we have to be more attuned to subtle signs than others.
We interpret pop culture through our own lens and experiences. After my mum and I both watched the TV show Killing Eve, I mentioned that I loved how gay it was. The sexual tension between the two main female characters was undeniable - or so I thought.
It turns out Mum had no clue what I was talking about. Maybe I was projecting my own attraction onto these characters, and seeing them though my own gay lens. Maybe there were gay undertones written into the show that my mum couldn’t pick up on. Whatever it was, my own experiences as a gay woman made me interpret the show differently than my straight mum had.
The exact same thing happened with Taylor Swift. We saw her posing in suits, saw the pink, blue, and purple Instagram theme, saw the photo of the goddamn “cool chicks”. Our thoughts immediately went to “queer” because that’s what those signs mean to us. Meanwhile the rest of the world just saw pretty pastels and a potential Dixie Chicks collab.
As queer people in a straight world, we have learned to be more attuned to subtle signs than other people. We’ve had to be calculated with our sexuality and also understanding the signals of someone else's sexuality. We’ve had to choose when to hide it and when to embrace it and let it show. When to wear a rainbow on our shirt, or colour our hair blue and pink, we know what message it’s going to send. We do it with purpose or with pride. Straight people have the liberty to make these choices without it carrying the same weight.
When Taylor Swift wore a power suit and stood on a blue and pink background, she wasn’t sending a message or hinting at her sexuality. But that’s exactly where my, and many other fans’ queer brains went. We queer-baited ourselves, in a way.
While Taylor didn’t come out in her new song released last week ME!, some queer women are still holding onto hope that one day she will. There’s no harm in reading way too much into things, raising eyebrows at certain things she does or says. At the end of the day, you can’t deny that music video replete with flowers and technicolour, was very gay.
Jemima Skelley is a freelance writer. You can follow Jemima on Twitter @jemimaskelley.