From a 1.4.24 N.Y. Times guest essay by Anna Marks, titled “Look What We Made Taylor Swift Do“:
“Whether she is conscious of it or not, Taylor Swift signals to queer people — in the language we use to communicate with one another — that she has some affinity for queer identity. There are some queer people who would say that through this sort of signaling, she has already come out, at least to us.
“But what about coming out in a language the rest of the public will understand?
“The difference between any person coming out and a celebrity doing so is the difference between a toy mallet and a sledgehammer. It’s reasonable for celebrities to be reticent; by coming out, they potentially invite death threats, a dogged tabloid press that will track their lovers instead of their beards, the excavation of their past lives, a torrent of public criticism and the implosion of their careers.
“In a culture of compulsory heterosexuality, to stop lying — by omission or otherwise — is to risk everything.
“American culture still expects that stars are cis and straight until they confess themselves guilty. So when our culture imagines a celebrity’s coming out, it expects an Ellen-style announcement that will submerge the past life in phoenix fire and rebirth the celebrity in a new image. In an ideal culture, wearing a bracelet that says ‘PROUD’, waving a pride flag onstage, placing a rainbow in album artwork or suggestively answering fan questions on Instagram would be enough. But our current reality expects a supernova.”
Question #1: When was the last time that a famous person was all-but-outed on the N.Y. Times editorial page?
Question #2: Even if Mark’s piece is unsubstantiated conjecture, and I have no way of knowing either way, her Times essay sets a new standard for invasive journalism. Can anyone imagine a gay activist calling out a closeted male celebrity in the same way? Shouldn’t closeted people (if indeed they are closeted) be left the hell alone?
Question #3: If you were Travis Kelce, how would you be feeling right now? What would be going through your head? Would you be shrugging it off with a chuckle? Or would you be saying to yourself “WHAT THE LIVING FUCK?”