Taylor Swift burned down the Internet with the surprise release of folklore this week, and people have been quick to try and decipher her songs. Many have decided that ‘betty’ is an obvious queer anthem.
If you have just come back from being lost in the forest or have just woken from a week-long sleep, you might not know that Taylor Swift dropped a surprise 8th studio album this week. Called folklore, the unexpected album set the Internet ablaze, and has been receiving very positive reviews since it came out. As with pretty much all of Taylor’s work, fans immediately set to work dissecting and discussing the songs, and what they might mean in relation to Taylor and her life.
NOTHING MORE PURE THAN DISSECTING THE NEW TAYLOR WITH THE GIRLS
— mad woman (@longliveizzy13) July 25, 2020
However, one song from the album in particular has garnered a lot of attention. After many years of rumours and speculation that Taylor might be queer, ‘betty’ has a lot of people wondering if she has finally given the world an explicitly queer song.
me decoding the lyrics to betty pic.twitter.com/S7bITQr524
— ex-twink persister🍥#blacklivesmatter (@twunkyboi13) July 24, 2020
The song is about a girl named ‘Betty’ (duh), who the narrator of the song is clearly into.
— alex (@loventhunders) July 24, 2020
Seems pretty clear-cut, right? Not quite. At some point in the song, it becomes clear that ‘Betty’ talks to the narrator of the song, who is apparently named ‘James’.
All of you saying #betty proves that Taylor is bi??? Like, did you even read the lyrics? (Like would love more mainstream bi representation too but let’s be smart about this) She’s writing from the perspective of James. #TaylorSwift #Folklore pic.twitter.com/8F47B3fddc
— Lizzy Kim (@kimlizzya) July 24, 2020
Okay, so then it’s clear-cut that it’s not about two women, right? Wrong again! There are two theories as to why fans believe ‘James’ could refer to Taylor herself. Firstly, it’s well-known that Taylor is named after singer James Taylor. Additionally, Taylor’s rumoured girlfriend Karlie Kloss apparently has the middle name ‘Elizabeth’, which is often shortened to Betty. Put these together, and fans believe it could be a sign.
she said “james, get in, let’s drive,” those days turned into nights, slept next to her, but i dreamt of you all summer long…..
taylor’s named after JAMES taylor and karlie kloss’s middle name is ELIZABETH aka BETTY…….
— char (@dykesoos) July 24, 2020
— dustland fairytale (@yamilethcortez8) July 24, 2020
If that one doesn’t work for you, there is also a second theory fans have come up with to explain why ‘James’ is not necessarily a male. Taylor is good friends with Blake Lively, and Lively has two daughters with Ryan Reynolds named ‘Inez’ and ‘James’ – both of those names appear in ‘betty’.
🎵| In “Betty” Taylor sings about James and Inez which are the names of Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds’ two oldest daughters.
“You heard the rumors from Inez. You can’t believe a word she says… She said James, get in, let’s drive. Those days turned into nights.” pic.twitter.com/8xeAEphMZV
— Taylor Swift Updates (@TSwiftLA) July 24, 2020
The plot thickens! Fans dissecting the songs in this way is not as deranged as you might think. Taylor has a reputation (lol) as someone who loves to drop cryptic hints and clues and easter eggs all throughout her music and videos. You can’t blame fans for reading into things, or deciphering things as clues in regards to this song. Taylor has lead us down this path on purpose. Regardless of the validity of any of the theories, many queer fans have already claimed ‘betty’ as their own.
taylor swift leaving the straight community after releasing betty pic.twitter.com/OKdcauiacy
— 🐐 (@johnstons08) July 24, 2020
taylor wrote a whole cottage core album that has a song about kissing a girl named betty.. pic.twitter.com/j3I9EGddJw
— ٍ𝓛𝑜𝓋𝑒, pilar⁷ (@aftaeglow) July 24, 2020
betty a queer anthem. i will not elaborate. pic.twitter.com/tzMd1Fnz1N
— lexie (@gretagerwigflew) July 24, 2020
— Jill Gutowitz (@jillboard) July 24, 2020
The “B” in LGBTQ stands for Betty. Taylor’s song Betty is a queer anthem. Tay is here and queer. I don’t make the rules. Thanks for coming to my Ted Talk. pic.twitter.com/2btDpWNI40
— Medge (@LivinOffTheEDGE) July 24, 2020
taylor swift be like: “i love women” (he said)
— jade // stream mirrorball (@youuareinIove) July 24, 2020
As a queer person, I fully get the urge to read into subtext and clues to try and ascribe queerness to entertainment. A lot of the time, subtext and queer reading of content is all we have. I can understand why it is exciting, especially for young queer fans of Taylor, to imagine a world in which she is queer, and in which she is singing queer songs.
BETTY IS A QUEER DAYDREAM AND I’M IN LOVE
— Arabella Eaton (@bellaeaton6) July 24, 2020
If you ask me, even if it’s not the explicit intent from Taylor, the entire album has strong queer vibes, and you can claim it if you feel it.
Sorry to comment on this but it is spiritually a gay breakup album
— Bec Shaw (@Brocklesnitch) July 24, 2020