By Lauren Rearick
Taylor Swift is continuing her work as an activist, this time by donating to the Tennessee Equality Project, an organization advocating for the equal rights of LGBTQ+ residents living in Tennessee. It seems she made the donation rather quietly; it was only when Chris Sanders, executive director of Tennessee Equality Project, revealed that the singer had donated $113,000 to support the organization in a Facebook post that it became public knowledge, CNN reports.
Since February 2019, the Tennessee Equality Project has encouraged supporters to monitor what its called the “Slate of Hate,” possible acts of legislation that would negatively impact the rights of Tennessee’s LGBTQ+ residents. As Sanders explained, Swift accompanied her donation with a handwritten note that read: “I'm writing you to say that I'm so inspired by the work you do, specifically in organizing the recent petition of Tennessee faith leaders standing up against the 'Slate of Hate' in our state legislature.”
Back in February, more than 100 clergy members had spoken out in opposition to the legislation, the Tennessean reported. “As leaders of faith communities we oppose these bills in the Tennessee General Assembly,” they wrote in a statement. “They promote discrimination rather than justice and demean the worth of LGBTQ people in our state.”
Proposed legislation in the “Slate of Hate,” includes a bill that would allow adoption agencies the right to deny someone adoption services if their beliefs conflicted with the agency’s religious beliefs, a bill that would allow for the state attorney general to defend schools being sued for requiring students and faculty to use the restroom or locker room that corresponds to the gender they were designated at birth with, and a bill that would potentially define marriage as being between one man and one woman. According to the Advocate, no bills included in the “Slate of Hate” have yet been passed.
Sanders expressed his appreciation for Swift’s donation in an interview with the Tennessean, saying, “Taylor Swift has been a long-time ally to the LGBTQ community. She sees our struggle in Tennessee and continues to add her voice with so many good people.”
Although Swift has remained silent on her political beliefs in the past, she’s since “realized that it actually is my responsibility to use my influence against ... disgusting rhetoric.”
In October 2018, she shared a note on her personal Instagram that encouraged followers to vote in the midterms, and explained why she would be voting against Tennessee representative Marsha Blackburn, a Republican who has voted against bills that would ensure LGBTQ+ rights and has voiced opposition to same-sex marriage.
“I believe in the fight for LGBTQ rights, and that any form of discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender is WRONG,” Swift said at the time. “I believe that the systemic racism we still see in this country towards people of color is terrifying, sickening and prevalent.”
"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,” Swift added. While voter registration tends to spike in October anyway, the surge of registration by young people specifically following the singer’s post led many analysts to believe that her Instagram compelled people to act.