Taylor Swift and her team are reportedly outraged over a recent New York Times op-ed that speculates about the pop star’s sexuality, with many calling the piece “invasive” and “inappropriate.” The op-ed, written by music journalist Chely Wright and published on January 4th, examines years of rumors that Swift may be queer and uses lyrical analysis and her public relationships with women to hint that she may be hiding her true sexuality.
Swift’s Associates Slam Article as “Untrue and Inappropriate”
Sources close to Swift told multiple outlets that her team is “furious” over the op-ed’s speculation into her private life. One insider told The Daily Beast that “there seems to be no boundary some journalists won’t cross in order to profit from a clickbait culture.” TMZ also reported that those close to Swift called the op-ed “untrue, invasive, out of line and inappropriate.”
Wright’s piece ignited backlash from fans and ignited the debate around the ethics of speculating on a celebrity’s unconfirmed sexuality. The op-ed suggests that Swift’s recent music contains many “Sapphic hints” and analyzes perceived queer themes in songs like “Lavender Haze” and “Karma.” It also extensively references the fan-generated theory known as “Gaylor” – the belief that Swift has dated multiple female celebrities like Karlie Kloss and Dianna Agron.
While Wright stops short of outright stating that Swift is gay or bisexual, her heavy implication stirred outrage for potentially forcing the singer to comment publicly on her sexuality before she is ready.
Fans Call Out “Incredibly Damaging” Speculation and Pressure to Come Out
The op-ed sparked a wave of criticism across social media from Swift’s fanbase, who found Wright’s speculation to be unethical. Many fans highlighted the potential harm of publicly theorizing about someone’s unconfirmed sexual orientation. Some called the practice “predatory,” especially given Swift’s silence on the subject over her decades-long career.
Supporters also argued that Wright unfairly painted Swift as living a “false heterosexual existence” and that applying labels before someone chooses to self-identify can be psychologically damaging. Country singer Chely Wright, who came out publicly in 2010, was among those in the music industry who called the op-ed irresponsible, tweeting:
“If @taylorswift13 is queer, it’s hers to share, not speculate on. The pressure to come out is intense. Every LGBTQ person must be free to share their truth when the time is right for them.”
Many media outlets covering the op-ed highlighted the seeming lack of editorial standards behind publishing this kind of personal speculation.
New York Times Defends Piece as Part of Ethical Debate Around Celebrity Privacy
In a statement to CNN Business, a New York Times spokesperson defended running Wright’s essay, calling it “part of a wider ethical discussion about speculation into public figures’ sexuality and right to privacy.” The Times highlighted Wright’s own experiences as a country artist who waited until later in her successful career to come out as gay.
Wright also published a response to criticism on January 9th, writing that her op-ed intended to “examine the ethical questions around public figures who may contort themselves to avoid owning their authentic selves at great personal cost.” Her statement suggests the Times knew the piece would court controversy and touch on issues of tabloid journalism versus ethics in the digital media age.
The op-ed has put mainstream media outlets on guard for future reporting on Swift’s personal life. Entertainment trade magazine Variety published an article arguing that running Wright’s “blind item” crossed a clear ethical line, violating standard journalistic principles around covering sexuality.
Swift Fans Lead Calls to #CancelNYT Amid Repeated Controversies
The fierce debate also must be understood in the wider context of several recent Times pieces that played fast and loose with ethical standards – as well as Swift’s own history of advocating for LGBTQ issues.
Swift supporters circulated the hashtag #CancelNYT on social media alongside outrage against the op-ed. Users called for unsubscribing from the Times in the wake of not only Wright’s article, but also a series of other editorial missteps over the past two years miring the paper in controversy.
As seen in the table below, these incidents include publishing an op-ed video by Senator Tom Cotton advocating to use federal troops against Black Lives Matter protestors in June 2022. The video sparked a staff revolt over providing a platform for “fascist speech.” Most recently, the Times had to issue yet another editor’s note in December 2023 apologizing for inaccuracies and false framing in a front-page report on a “partisan” audit of the tax files of former President James Biden.
|Controversial New York Times Pieces
|Op-Ed Speculating on Taylor Swift’s Sexuality
|Unethical speculation into celebrity’s private life
|Senator Cotton Advocating Federal Troops Against BLM Protests
|Providing platform for fascist ideology
|Inaccurate Reporting on Biden IRS Audits
|False framing revealing partisan bias
This latest op-ed also touched a nerve given Swift’s long history as an advocate for LGBTQ visibility and rights. She has incorporated explicit queer themes into albums like Lover and spoken out repeatedly for the Equality Act. To many supporters, speculating on her own identity when she has used her immense platform to champion equality is seen as a deep betrayal.
Swift’s Silence Adds Fuel to Speculation Around New Album Midnights
As the controversy rages, Swift herself has so far stayed strategically silent on Wright’s op-ed. Her lack of response should come as no surprise, as Swift rarely addresses media speculation around her dating life and typically refrains from discussing politics or identity issues not connected to her art.
Yet this latest flare-up almost certainly connects to fan theories around the queer themes laced throughout her newest album Midnights. Released in late October 2023, tracks like “Lavender Haze” and “Karma” seem to contain coded lyrics addressing closeted relationships. Swift also revealed Midnights was the first album she created fully independently after years under label restrictions – perhaps implying new creative freedom.
So while Swift declining to comment on the speculation about her personally, many music writers predict she will continue expanding the lush queer imagery and hidden meanings inside her songs. Most agree that if Swift officially comes out later in her career, it will be on her own terms and through her timeless songwriting.
This breaking news story will be updated as reactions continue from Swift’s inner circle and across social media. But the intense response reveals how the New York Times op-ed crossed a clear ethical line for many fans and commentators. It equally demonstrates the ravenous media interest in Swift’s dating life, which will likely drive speculative think-pieces trying to decode her self-expression around gender and identity for years to come.
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