On Friday night, there was an event in honor of the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Inn uprising, with announced performances from Sara Bareilles, Lea DeLaria, Gavin Creel, Vincint, and "surprise guests." One of those surprise guests turned out to be Taylor Swift, who is currently promoting her upcoming seventh album.
Swift performed an older song, though—"Shake It Off," which is apparently co-host Jesse Tyler Ferguson's favorite karaoke song:
#BREAKING - Taylor Swift makes a surprise appearance to sing “Shake It Off” during Jesse Tyler Ferguson’s cabaret show at The Stonewall Inn! @taylorswift13 #TaylorSwift #YouNeedToCalmDowm #Lover #PrideMonth pic.twitter.com/TiriVhq0O1
— Charles A. O'Keefe (@CharlesAOKeefe) June 15, 2019
— tyler oakley (@tyleroakley) June 15, 2019
The performance followed the release of "You Need To Calm Down," a new single from her upcoming album, Lover, that addresses haters and also throws her support to the LGBTQI community. Along with the usual decoding upon the release of a new Swift song, there was immediate criticism of the single, and even more followed her appearance at Stonewall.
At least Taylor isn’t blatantly using sacred spaces for queer history and defiance as a viral marketing tool for her own product. Now, to take a big sip of coffee and check Twitter https://t.co/jbmEhO3vv6
— Caroline Moss (@CarolineMoss) June 15, 2019
Pitchfork writer Michelle Kim opined in a review of the new single:
Swift dedicates the second half of the song to prove her allyship to the gay community, which again, deserves some props. But her way of showing alliance is confounding: “Why be mad, when you can be GLAAD,” she sings, upping the LGBTQ-centering media organization, but also parroting a literal Tupperware slogan. And when she says “shade never made anyone less gay,” she adopts slang with queer black origins in an attempt to create a mic-drop moment, but ends up sounding like another corporation proving they’re “down for the cause” during Pride Month. All of this, coupled with a hook that’s mostly vowels, makes for a song that’s somehow bewildering and underwhelming at the same time. “You Need to Calm Down” is like one of those fancy unicorn cupcakes, an impossibly cute confection designed to distract you from the fact that it’s a mediocre dessert. I cannot think of something I would rather buy into less.
And Slate's Christine Cauterucci, after acknowledging some conspiracy theories, wrote:
"Swift is clearly coming out in support of gays, which is much better than being against gays, and considering her roots in the South and the country-music community, her message is less likely to reverberate within a friendly echo chamber than that of some other pop stars. But wow, are there a lot of annoying things about this song! First of all, invoking GLAAD in a line that sounds like it belongs on Sesame Street ('why are you mad when you could be GLAAD'???) makes absolutely no sense. Why hate on gays when you could be … a nonprofit that tracks how queers are represented in media? This is the lyric of someone who has learned the names of exactly three LGBTQ advocacy groups and thought she was the first one to get the pun."
*calms down from morning conspiracy meltdown re Taylor Swift either coming out or being the most aggressive ally of all time*
*returns to twitter to find Taylor Swift has literally performed at Stonewall*
— alanna bennett (@AlannaBennett) June 15, 2019
I wonder how many queer people couldn’t visit stonewall today so Taylor Swift could do her little publicity stunt
— Meredith Salisbury (@mersalisbury) June 15, 2019
She jumped on the bandwagon of commercializing Pride only when it was safe to do so. Where was she five years ago? Ten? No Taylor Swift stan owns an album by an lgbt artist or even knows what GLAAD is, but now Tay Tay threw the first brick at Stonewall. No. Just no. Cash grab.
— Visigoth77 (@visigoth771) June 14, 2019
If you think that Madonna at Stonewall is pandering to the gays but Taylor Swift at Stonewall isn’t then you need to learn your gay history.
— ᴘʀᴇᴇᴛ ʙʜᴏɢᴀʟ (@SSBhogal) June 15, 2019
taylor swift: *does one song with brendon urie* wait the gays still don't like me
taylor swift: *writes you need to calm down* do they like me yet. please. i said gay rights
— mel 🌻 (@themelsig) June 15, 2019
Taylor Swift showing up at Stonewall last night pic.twitter.com/X4db4ybXQE
— Mikey (@Mikey_Sul) June 15, 2019
The event at Stonewall Inn was to support to the Stonewall Gives Back Initiative, which is the Stonewall Inn's non-profit that is "committed to eliminating the social intolerance that is profoundly impacting the lives of LGBTQ citizens throughout America and abroad." Here's a little bit of Sara Bareilles' performance from the evening:
My bestie @charlesrockhill texts me and says my favorite @SaraBareilles is performing at our regular bar, The Stonewall Inn. So of course, @jasonsulli and I have to go!! 😍😭 happy. freaking. pride. 🏳️🌈 pic.twitter.com/crShQJoSZw
— Gabrielle♡Taryn (@GabrielleTaryn) June 15, 2019
WorldPride Weekend starts during the last weekend of June—there's an opening ceremony on Wednesday, June 26; a rally at Stonewall on Friday, June 28; and Pridefest and the big Pride March on Sunday, June 30. And there are many, many other events, like the unofficial Dyke March.
Update: Swift released the official video for "You Need To Calm Down," which features a star-studded cast including (according to Variety), "Ellen Degeneres, Ryan Reynolds, Dexter Mayfield, Laverne Cox, Karamu Brown, Rupaul, Antoni Porowski, Jonathan Van Ness, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Justin Mikita, Bobby Berk, Tan France, Billy Porter, Adam Lambert, Todrick Hall, Hayley Kiyoko, Chester Lockhart, Adam Rippon and more."