Taylor Swift performed her sapphic anthem ‘Betty’ at the ACM Awards and fans think she hid a secret LGBT+ message

Reiss Smith September 17, 2020
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Taylor Swift sitting on a stool, playing acoustic guitar, with a spotlight behind her putting her into partial silhouette

Taylor Swift performs 'Betty' at the ACM Awards 2020. (Getty)

Taylor Swift performed “Betty” at the Academy of Country Music Awards 2020 and fans think she hid a secret message for her LGBT+ fans.

Swift returned to the ACM Awards after a seven-year hiatus, taking to the stage with her trusty guitar to perform “Betty” which has been hailed a “sapphic tale of enemies to lovers”.

Swift has denied the song is a lesbian love story, but fans are nonetheless convinced she hid a queer message while performing the song at the ACM Awards.

The Sapphicast podcast – dedicated to “social advocacy, lesbian media, and yes, Gaylor Swift” – noted that she seemed to be playing the same acoustic guitar she used in December, when she appeared at an LGBT+ youth benefit concert with Hayley Kiyoko.

That instrument appeared to have rainbow-coloured strings, and fans believe Swift used the same one onstage at the ACM Awards.

This would be a particularly poignant move for Swift, being that the country music industry is notoriously unwelcoming to LGBT+ artists.

There are only a handful of major country artists who have come out as queer, including Chely Wright, who came out in 2010 a decade-and-a-half into her career, and Ty Herndon, who came out almost 20 years into his.

Last year Lil Nas X became the first out gay man to win at the industry’s other big night, the Country Music Association Awards, after a long fight to be recognised as a country artist in the first place.

Is Taylor Swift’s ‘Betty’ an LGBT+ anthem?

“Betty” is one of a trilogy of songs detailing a love triangle between three teenagers: Inez, Betty and James – named after the daughters of her friends Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively.

When the suite was released, as part of Swift’s surprise eighth album, Folklore, fans interpreted the entanglement as a queer one.

The track is sung from James’ perspective and opens with the lyrics: “Betty, I won’t make assumptions/About why you switched your homeroom but/I think it’s ’cause of me.”

Later, Swift sings: “Yeah, I showed up at your party/Will you have me?/Will you love me?/ Will you kiss me on the porch/In front of all your stupid friends?”

However the star later said that the fictional James is male, telling Vulture that “Betty” is “a song that I wrote from the perspective of a 17-year-old boy”.

“I’ve always loved that in music you can kinda slip into different identities and you can sing from other people’s perspectives,” she added.

“So that’s what I did on this one.”



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