And here I was thinking You Need To Calm Down was solely directed towards homophobes. But no. It’s not. It is also a call to inaction for the fabulous people of our society. Just calm down. Throwing shade at intolerant people never helps. What does help is being yourself and enjoying every minute of it. Or to use the famous British WWII propaganda slogan/turned internet meme: keep calm and carry on.
I can see why so many of us queers with political bents would see it as nothing more than a fierce rip at those who hate us. One popular lyric that comes to mind says “’cause shade never made anybody less gay!” And hey, it’s so true! I, like many of my fellow homosexuals, have been called many derogatory names and yet I still have a sexual desire for the gorgeous men around me. But there’s a hidden meaning there: Throwing shade at the homophobes doesn’t make them less homophobic. In fact, it enhances their actions. Throwing shade at them gives them more reason to hate us.
If you truly want to change someone’s actions, you have to let them change. No child has ever miraculously cleaned their house because their mother had a conniption fit. No adult has ever changed political parties because the opposite side shouted them down. To re-purpose someone’s actions requires a specific type of sensory stimuli. They need to see a reason to change. Going up against a homophobe and ridiculing them only solidifies their beliefs that you are bad. Your intolerance goes against society, in their eyes. But if you keep calm and carry on, being fabulous in your own way, they will see good. They will have no reason to lambast you with four or six letter words. They lose energy because their vehemence against you is receiving no reaction.
My favourite verse in Taylor Swift’s song goes like this:
And we see you over there on the internet
Comparing all the girls who are killing it
But we figured you out
We all know now we all got crowns
You need to calm down
I like this because it shows how far we’ve come as a global community, but how far we’ve still got to go. The western world of LGBTQI+ are very much accepted among society, but there are too many of us who fail to accept each other. Of course, this is not just a queer thing, it also happens in other minority groups. And the wayward media industry is partly to blame. It’s only now that women are feeling more comfortable in their differing bodies than they did a decade or two ago. They’ve got role models in all walks of life making statements on TV or over the internet. But that same insidious undertone hasn’t been resolved as much in the LGBTQI+ community. There still seems to be a desire to compete and compare ourselves with others, and this doesn’t help when we also have the desire to be accepted by all. What will the homophobes think when they see us throwing shade at our fellow queens?
The thing is, we are all part of the same community, but we all have our own ways of presenting it. As Taylor says: “We’ve all got crowns.” It’s a powerful message. If we learn to accept each other and show it off to the world, those homophobes may just reevaluate their values. Why am I hating on people who actually seem quite content in their life? they’d ask themselves. This is a shitty thing to do.
And this is exactly what happens in the end of the video clip: a playful food fight among the LGBTQI+ community and a beautiful resolution between Taylor and Katy. All the homophobes are throwing shade on the sidelines and after a quick reevaluation, a few of them throw down their placards and join in.
So while we should hold certain homophobes accountable for their actions, we must also learn the serenity to calm down about the rest of them. Just keep doing you, living your best life and being your best self, and hopefully you change a few minds.
You need to calm down.