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Taylor Swift releases star-studded video for "You Need To Calm Down," challenging anti-LGBTQ beliefs

Taylor Swift breaks political silence
Taylor Swift breaks political silence, supports Democrat candidates in Tennessee 00:37

Taylor Swift is considered by fans to be the queen of innuendo, metaphors and hidden Easter eggs and her latest music video is chock-full of subtle nuance and not-so-subtle star power. "You Need To Calm Down" acts an anthem for anyone who has felt a patronizing glare or has been told to "calm down" in a condescending way. And the music video celebrates the antithesis of these feelings: acceptance.

The second the synth-heavy pop tune begins, some intentional yet not-so-obvious symbols flash across the screen. First, it's a framed photo of a simple quote: "Mom, I am a rich man." Cher uttered the iconic stereotype-busting line to her mother, who suggested she settle down and marry a rich man. 

Swift then throws her flaming phone on her bed — perhaps a comment on society's current addiction with technology and social media. Soon, she is laying in an above-ground pool outside of a burning mobile home. 

Taylor Swift - You Need To Calm Down by TaylorSwiftVEVO on YouTube

Her trailer park is atypical — it's filled with celebrities, most of them an integral part of LGBTQ visibility. Laverne Cox waters her flowers as Dexter Mayfield dances in his yard and Hannah Hart does bicep curls with a boombox.

Later in the video, Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Justin Mikita get married – and Ciara officiates. Hayley Kiyoko, Chester Lockhart, and RuPaul also make appearances, as do cast members of "RuPaul's Drag Race." The queens are dressed like Swift and other fellow pop stars.

The real Taylor sips tea with the "Queer Eye" guys and Todrick Hall, who was an executive producer for the video. 

And the famous faces keep making cameos: Ryan Reynolds focuses on a rainbow painting, Olympic skater Adam Ripon sells snow cones and Ellen DeGeneres gets a "cruel summer" tattoo from Adam Lambert. Billy Porter does his best runway walk past a group of protesters.

The protestors show up in the video often. They hold hateful — and often misspelled — signs and condemn Swift and her friends. But this group doesn't phase Swift and her pals.

The video culminates in a food fight, during which Swift, dressed like french fries, finds and comforts Katy Perry, who is dressed like a hamburger. In real life, the two singers publicly ended their infamous feud last week, with Perry sharing a photo of the cookies Swift baked her.

While this prolonged tiff has ended, Swift appears to take a jab at Kim Kardashian and Kanye West in the song. "Snakes and stones never broke my bones," she belts. When the pop star and rapper found themselves embroiled in a 2016 feud, several Instagram users "trolled" Swift by leaving a bombardment comments featuring snake emojis all over her Instagram posts.

Swift did not accept the "snake" persona at first but she took ownership of it when creating her "Reputation" album in 2017. Snakes were heavily featured in the album's songs and music videos.

Her newest album, "Lover," has a completely different vibe. "You Need To Calm Down," the second single off the yet-to-be-released LP, talks about acceptance, letting people be themselves and not putting them down — or as Swift puts it, not stepping on our gowns.

She appears to take direct aim at homophobic and anti-LGBTQ beliefs in the lyrics. "You just need to take several seats and then try to restore the peace/And control your urges to scream about all the people you hate/'Cause shade never made anybody less gay," she sings.

This is Swift's first known attempt at making a political statement in her music.

Ahead of the 2018 midterm elections, she broker her political silence by urging fans in Tennessee not to vote for Rep. Marsha Blackburn. In an Instagram post, Swift endorsed Democratic Senate candidate Phil Bredesen, citing Blackburn's opposition to LGBTQ rights and voting against the Reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act in 2013.

View this post on Instagram

I’m writing this post about the upcoming midterm elections on November 6th, in which I’ll be voting in the state of Tennessee. In the past I’ve been reluctant to publicly voice my political opinions, but due to several events in my life and in the world in the past two years, I feel very differently about that now. I always have and always will cast my vote based on which candidate will protect and fight for the human rights I believe we all deserve in this country. I believe in the fight for LGBTQ rights, and that any form of discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender is WRONG. I believe that the systemic racism we still see in this country towards people of color is terrifying, sickening and prevalent. I cannot vote for someone who will not be willing to fight for dignity for ALL Americans, no matter their skin color, gender or who they love. Running for Senate in the state of Tennessee is a woman named Marsha Blackburn. As much as I have in the past and would like to continue voting for women in office, I cannot support Marsha Blackburn. Her voting record in Congress appalls and terrifies me. She voted against equal pay for women. She voted against the Reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, which attempts to protect women from domestic violence, stalking, and date rape. She believes businesses have a right to refuse service to gay couples. She also believes they should not have the right to marry. These are not MY Tennessee values. I will be voting for Phil Bredesen for Senate and Jim Cooper for House of Representatives. Please, please educate yourself on the candidates running in your state and vote based on who most closely represents your values. For a lot of us, we may never find a candidate or party with whom we agree 100% on every issue, but we have to vote anyway. So many intelligent, thoughtful, self-possessed people have turned 18 in the past two years and now have the right and privilege to make their vote count. But first you need to register, which is quick and easy to do. October 9th is the LAST DAY to register to vote in the state of TN. Go to and you can find all the info. Happy Voting! 🗳😃🌈

A post shared by Taylor Swift (@taylorswift) on

At the start of this year's Pride Month, Swift made another political statement on social media, showing her endorsement of the Equality Act, a bill that extends civil rights protections to gay and transgender Americans.

"I've decided to kick off Pride Month by writing a letter to one of my senators to explain how strongly I feel that the Equality Act should be passed," Swift tweeted on June 1. She shared a photo of her letter and encouraged fans to reach out to lawmakers, using the hashtag #lettertomysenator.

Swift continues to advocate for the Equality Act in "You Need To Calm Down." At the end of the music video, she directs fans to sign a petition in support of it. 

Fans will have to wait a few more months to see if more songs tackle serious issues. "Lover" is scheduled to be released August 23.

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