A teaser clip for music videos from “Midnights” includes an image of Swift placing her hand on Ashley’s back while the pair are in bed together. At the end of the teaser video, “Laith Ashley” is one of the twelve names listed under “featuring.”
“Being assigned female at birth, I thought I was a lesbian, even though I hated the word,” the entertainer told GQ in 2018. But it was a YouTube video, apparently, that pushed Ashley into identifying as transgender. “I thought, ‘Oh, my God. This is who I am.’ I was so filled with fear. In my mind I still wanted to be my parents’ little girl.”
Swift in 2019 was crushed by critics on both the Left and Right for her LGBT-themed “You Need to Calm Down” music video.
Left-wing Cosmopolitan at the time ran through some of the backlash the video sparked online, particularly from the Left, over all the egregious stereotypes and counterproductive messaging in the video. “About halfway through the video, we are introduced to the anti-LGBTQ+ crowd protesting Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Justin Mikita’s fake wedding. Of course, they’re portrayed with about as much nuance as the lyrics of the song,” Cosmo said, pointing out a shot of one of the gay marriage-protesting rednecks and one of the country bumbkins’ “ironic” signs declaring, “GET A BRAIN MORANS.”
“So [Taylor Swift’s] new song/video is calming down and not throwing shade yet she stereotypes the protesters … guess calming down only applies if you agree with her views,” wrote one “#disappointed” fan noted by the outlet. “Did she really need the lazy classist stereotype? Last time I checked, there were plenty of pretty polished people spewing intolerance too,” another disappointed pro-LGBT twitterer posted, a sentiment echoed by many others on the Left. “The fact she really depicted anti-LGBT protestors as hicks? Girl, many are very privileged people in high places in society,” another wrote. “This issue is too important for caricatures.”
Swift generally stayed out of politics before 2018, when the feminist backed former Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen (D) over Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R) in the state’s Senate race. In an Instagram post, Swift bashed Blackburn, who would go on to win the race, as an enemy of “human rights” while speaking of “systemic racism” in the U.S.
John Bickley contributed to this report