Some people are born queer icons, others have queer iconicity thrust upon them. And then there are those who do the most to become one, including a surprise drop-in acoustic set at Stonewall Inn during pride month and a music video that’s positively chockablock with queer-squad fuel from Hayley Kiyoko to “Same Parts” poet laureate Tatianna. Of course, we’re talking about none other than Taylor Swift. GLAAD apparently got her memo (and the shout-out in “You Need to Calm Down”), because the LGBTQ advocacy organization’s president and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis announced that the group will honor Swift with this year’s GLAAD Vanguard Award. In a statement, Ellis said, “From boldly standing up against anti-LGBTQ elected officials to shining attention on the urgent need to protect LGBTQ people from discrimination through the Equality Act, Taylor Swift proudly uses her unique ability to influence pop culture to promote LGBTQ acceptance.”
According to the organization’s website, the award is presented every year to “media professionals who have made a significant difference in promoting equality and acceptance of LGBTQ people.” Notably, the award is given to celebrities who do not themselves identify as members of the community, but use their platform to advocate for LGBTQ rights. Since the inaugural award in 1993 (which went to Roseanne Barr and Tom Arnold), GLAAD has presented the prestigious honor to such allies and advocates as Cher, Elizabeth Taylor, Janet Jackson, Kristin Chenoweth, Jennifer Lopez, and Beyoncé and Jay-Z.
Last year, during peak Lover promo era, Vulture music critic Craig Jenkins registered skepticism about “You Need to Calm Down,” saying: “If she’s as serious about using her wattage to spotlight LGBTQ talent and lobby for more extensive rights for communities in need as this latest music video suggests, let’s hear her out for a while.” Since then, “You Need to Calm Down” won MTV’s “Video for Good” award. GLAAD will present Swift with the Vanguard Award at the 31st Annual GLAAD Media Awards on April 16, 2020 in Los Angeles. The ceremony will also honor Janet Mock with the Stephen F. Kolzak Award for her work on Pose.