LGBTQ+ Swifties raise money for trans community by throwing 'Tortured Poets'- themed listening party

Left: Taylor Swift's album cover for the 'Tortured Poets Department.' Right: A group of people gather in an event space, with a Pride flag hanging on the wall

Anyone who has logged into a Spotify or Apple Music account — or heck, entered a public space — in the past week knows that Taylor Swift recently released a new album: “The Tortured Poets Department.”

But as the entire world listens to, studies, and comments on the eyebrow-raising 31 new tracks from Swift, a faction of her most dedicated fans have used it as an opportunity to do some good.

The Denver Gaylors, a community of LGBTQ+ Swift fans in Colorado, threw a flashy listening party for “TTPD” last week. 

A group of people gather in an event space, a Pride flag and disco ball visible in the background
Photo courtesy of Denver Gaylors

Although there were plenty of classic Swift signifiers (friendship bracelets, lyric analysis, and more), the event went beyond a typical fan gathering. 

Together, the Denver Gaylors raised over $1,300 for femme, trans and nonbinary folks facing homelessness in the Denver area.

Although Gaylors (fans who like to juxtapose the singer’s music onto queer literature, themes, and history; noting that the megastar has neither explicitly confirmed nor denied an LGBTQ+ identity) occasionally get a bad rap, this localized group of fans just wants to do one thing: Foster community.

An invitation for the Denver Gaylors listening party. Text on a gray file folder reads: "And so I enter into evidence, my vote for favorite song, new lyrics, deciphered by heretics, a space where queer Swifties belong. They sing, chat, laugh, of new friends, sharing what they think. All's fair in love and listening parties... the Chairman of Denver Gaylors"
A spoof of a "TTPD" graphic, shared by Denver Gaylors prior to the listening party. Photo courtesy of Denver Gaylors/Instagram

“Denver Gaylors started as a passion project by three queer friends who wanted to attend Taylor Swift events, but gayer. Not all Taylor-centric events feel welcoming and affirming for queer, trans, and nonbinary fans,” a Denver Gaylors member, Rose Bender, told Good Good Good.

But after their first few events, they realized there was an appetite for more, and with the release of “TTPD,” fans were abuzz. 

“Taylor Swift fans know the excitement of waiting for a new album to drop, and there’s something special about having one of your first listens in community with fellow fans.”

The listening party included dissecting Swift’s newest tracks through BINGO games and brackets, a “TTPD” themed book swap with a local queer book shop, a flash sheet of tattoos from a local artist, a permanent jewelry station, photo ops, and raffle drawings full of goodies donated by LGBTQ+ and ally-owned businesses.

A stack of books sits on a table, surrounded by flowers
A stack of queer rom coms sold by Petals & Pages at the listening party. Photo courtesy of Dylah Ray

“As a queer, feminist bookstore we know how valuable LGBTQ-centric events are to our community and how much joy it can bring to be in a safe, fun space,” Dylah Ray, owner of bookstore Petals & Pages, told Good Good Good. 

“Working together with other queer groups and businesses is so important to us to build a vibrant LGBTQ+ scene in Denver.”

Town Hall Collaborative, a women-owned event space in the city, also donated its space to the cause. Bender said this was especially helpful, since over 450 turned out on the evening of the listening party.

The sale of raffle tickets supported The Delores Project, a local nonprofit that provides support to femme, trans, and nonbinary Denverites experiencing housing insecurity.

A raffle table with Taylor Swift-themed prizes
Photo courtesy of Denver Gaylors

“Y’all, we are so moved by how many of you showed up and supported The Delores Project and their amazing mission,” Denver Gaylors shared in an Instagram post. “We had 97 donors, 19 raffle prize winners, and raised a total of $1,300 dollars!”

“Our raffle was made possible by generous queer and allied businesses and artists who donated some really kick-ass prizes,” Bender added, to Good Good Good.

The Delores Project provides emergency shelter, rehousing, supportive housing, and behavioral health and wellness care to women, trans, and nonbinary members of the community. 

With the help of donations, the organization is able to distribute gender-inclusive essentials to community members, as well as continue its work to provide affordable housing and free or low-cost services to those in need.

A group of people stand around a table full of donations at the Delores Project in Denver, Colorado
A prior donation drive for the Delores Project. Photo courtesy of the Delores Project/Facebook

“The Delores Project has created a unique model that embraces trauma-informed care at every level and is leading the way in transgender inclusion, racial equity, and community engagement,” the organization’s website reads.

“It is through the generosity of people like you that our guests and residents are able to create paths to their stability.”

In addition to financial gifts and in-kind donations, the organization encourages supporters to host events to boost support — and that’s exactly what Denver Gaylors did.

“We were thrilled to amplify the work that Denver Gaylors did to raise money for the Delores Project which is such a valuable service for our community,” Ray, of Petals & Pages, added.

This is not the only time the group has raised funds for area nonprofits. Last year, for the release of “1989 (Taylor’s Version)” their listening party garnered a couple hundred dollars for a local mutual aid fund

A listening party for “Speak Now (Taylor’s Version)” also brought in some generous donations for The Delores Project. 

Overall, Bender recalled, as the group has grown — alongside Swift’s stardom — organizers know that working with other queer businesses, organizations, and artists is paramount in giving back to the community and investing in the sanctity of affirming spaces. 

“Denver Gaylors is a passion project organized by audacious sapphics and executed fully by volunteers,” an Instagram post from the organization said. 

Bender added: “We aim to make a space for LGBTQIA+ fans to shimmer.”

Header images courtesy of Taylor Swift/Universal Music Group and Denver Gaylors

Article Details

April 26, 2024 12:40 PM
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