Singer-songwriter Taylor Swift released a new music video over the weekend, featuring a transgender man as her love interest.
The “Lavender Haze” video, written and directed by Swift, dropped Friday and features transgender male model Laith Ashley as her love interest. In an early scene, Swift and Ashley are seen lying in bed together before she reveals a starry sky on his bare back. The trans model is later seen cuddling with the 11-time Grammy-winning star at a party.
In a post debuting the video, Swift said she “absolutely adored working” with Ashley, adding that her intention with the video was to depict a “sultry sleepless 70’s fever dream.” The project, which has already gained nearly 10 million views on YouTube, marked Swift’s third music video from her “Midnights“ album.
Ashley also thanked Swift for casting him in the role, calling it “an experience I will never forget.”
“Thank you [Taylor Swift] for allowing me to play a small part in your story,” he wrote on Instagram. “You are brilliant and this is an experience I will never forget. It was truly magical.”
“Thank you for being an ally,” he added. “Representation matters. AND LOVE WILL ALWAYS WIN!”
Fans and activists praised Swift for including a transgender man in her video and for her advocacy work on behalf of the LGBTQ community.
Culture writer Ashley Spencer said the trans representation in the project is “major.”
“The love interest in Taylor Swift’s new Lavender Haze music video is trans model and artist Laith Ashley,” Spencer wrote on Twitter “At a time when trans rights are increasingly under attack, this representation is major.”
“Taylor Swift hired a trans man of color, Laith Ashley, to star alongside her as her love interest in her new music video for Lavender Haze. This comes at a time when powerful anti-trans forces worldwide are crusading against the very existence of trans people,” Mississippi Free Press editor Ashton Pittman wrote.
Buzzfeed’s celebrity reporter Stephanie Soteriou said the move further challenges Swift’s reputation as a “poster girl for white, bigoted, republicans.”
“Taylor Swift has made a lot of political missteps in her career but casting a Dominican trans man as her love interest is commendable,” Soteriou wrote. “Her country roots used to make her the poster girl for white, bigoted, republicans & you can’t underestimate the power of representation.”
Swift previously directed the music video for her song “You Need to Calm Down,” where she calls out critics of the LGBTQ community and references the Equality Act, a bill centered around banning LGBTQ discrimination.