Taylor Swift Photo Sparks Backlash

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Taylor Swift has sparked spirited debate among her fans on social media, after a photo emerged of her posing with conservative businessman Austin Wright.

The pop star was seen spending New Year’s Eve cheering on her boyfriend, Travis Kelce and his NFL team, Kansas City Chiefs, as they defeated the Cincinnati Bengals 25-17 on Sunday in Missouri.

Later that evening, Swift and Kelce were seen ringing in 2024 with a kiss as they attended a party. Aside from the couple’s romantic moments together, they were also seen partying with Kelce’s teammate, Patrick Mahomes, and his wife, Brittany Mahomes, posing alongside them for a photo at the soirée.

Images shared across social media also showed that the couple had posed with a number of other revelers at the celebratory gathering.

Taylor Swift is pictured on March 31, 2023, in Arlington, Texas. The pop star’s photo with a conservative influencer has sparked discussion on social media.
SUZANNE CORDEIRO/AFP via Getty Images

This week, one particular image sparked discussion among Swift’s fans. The photo showed the singer-songwriter posing alongside Wright, who was also once known as Austin Quick and ran the since-deleted Instagram account TheBasicCatholic.

Wright, who has co-founded a holding company with Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker, is known for his devotion to the Roman Catholic faith. According to his company bio, he spent almost six years in seminary formation studying to be a priest.

However, detractors have characterized Wright as holding deeply conservative stance that stand at odds with the more progressive views Swift has publicly shared.

Newsweek has contacted representatives of Swift and Wright via email for comment.

An account on X, formerly Twitter, initially shared a post of Swift posing with Wright on January 1, incorrectly labeling the latter as Kelce. The following day, another fan identified who the man in question was, sharing the same photo of the pair, alongside a link to Wright’s company website.

“Taylor Swift is hanging out with this guy—Austin Wright, AKA Austin Quick according to this info,” the caption read, alongside a screenshot of a Reddit post that shared allegations of Wright’s stance on a number of matters, including his criticism of Pope Francis’ relatively progressive views regarding certain social issues. In December, the pope drew the ire of Christian conservatives when he authorized Catholic Church officials to bless same-sex marriages.

The unimpressed fan added that Swift “really needs to scrub herself w/bleach and wear garlic around her neck. Her big brain has shriveled into a raisin.”

While the post attracted comments from fans expressing disappoint in Swift posing with Wright, a number of others asked why she should be expected to know the background of everybody she meets at events.

Responding to the original post, one fan asked: “I mean… did YOU know who he was before you googled him?”

They continued that “it sucks to see Taylor in a photo with an awful dude but like she doesn’t have permanent LinkedIn X-ray vision, how the hell was she meant to know?”

The fan concluded by saying that “the thing about stanning a celebrity is you usually respect them enough to give them the bare minimum benefit of the doubt.”

One X user responded by saying that while they agree with the point being made, their issue with Swift is “just the fact that she’s hanging out with the complete opposite crowd she’s used to, and it’s full of bad people. This new era is so confusing.”

“She’s not hanging out with bad people,” another said of Swift. “Most of Travis’ friends are good & it’s a diverse group. People are making assumptions just because Pat Mahomes brother is a bad dude apparently and his wife might have stood up for her bro in law. Doesn’t mean Pat is bad or everyone else.”

The X user was referring to Mahomes’ younger brother, Jackson Mahomes, who was last year accused of forcibly trying to kiss a restaurant owner on February 25, 2023. He was arrested in May for aggravated sexual battery charges. The case is still ongoing. In May, Mahomes’ lawyer, Brandan Davies, told Newsweek that the court prohibited Jackson and his lawyers from commenting any further.

Noting the impracticality of expecting Swift to know all details regarding anybody she posed with, another chimed in: “Imagine her being like wait let me google you before I let you take a pic with me.”

Meanwhile, one X user stated that Swift’s fans are holding her to an impossible standard, and accused some of bordering on dangerous obsessiveness.

“What’s scary is that they literally GOOGLED him.. this needs to stop.. people need to chill when it comes to Taylor,” they wrote, adding that “it’s getting very scary and borderline Selena/John Lennon/ Christina Grimmie.”

In an interview with Our Sunday Visitor in September, Wright discussed how he grew a large Instagram following. Before it was closed, TheBasicCatholic had well in excess of 120,000 followers.

“I shared that a desire for holiness is extremely important; people felt a community build up around it and that grew,” Wright said. “More people wanted to be engaged. Twitter is just on fire and a hellscape, but Catholic Instagram, I felt was a good place for men and women to meet new people.

“A lot of people feel alone in the world, who are politically conservative and Catholic, especially Orthodox Catholics. To see that there were other people like that, that was the common thread. People liked to see my friends and the things we were doing; that we were normal people living in the world striving for holiness.”

While Wright has described himself as a conservative, Swift is known to stand on the opposite end of the political aisle, and has most notably been publicly critical of former President and 2024 GOP candidate Donald Trump.

Swift has weighed in on politics on occasion. Several months before the 2020 election, Swift accused then-President Trump of “stoking the fires of white supremacy and racism” throughout his term in office.

“We will vote you out in November,” she added in her post.

For years, Swift was known—and often criticized—for being tight-lipped about political issues.

“Part of the fabric of being a country artist is don’t force your politics on people,” Swift explained in her 2020 Netflix documentary Miss Americana. “Let people live their lives. That is grilled into us.”

In 2018, however, she used her platform to promote the Democratic Senate candidate in Tennessee ahead of the midterm elections. Upon hearing the news of Swift’s support for Democrats, Trump told reporters at the time: “Let’s say that I like Taylor’s music about 25 percent less now, OK?”

Over the years, Swift has become more politically outspoken, despite any potential backlash she may face.

“If I get bad press for saying, ‘Don’t put a homophobic racist in office,’ then I get bad press for that,” she said in Miss Americana.