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

Taylor Swift sitting on a stool, playing acoustic guitar, with a spotlight behind her putting her into partial silhouette

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.”