Trans model Laith Ashley co-stars as Taylor Swift’s love interest in new music video

Trans model Laith Ashley co-stars as Taylor Swift’s love interest in new music video
Taylor Swift and Laith Ashley in the "Lavender Haze" video. Photo: Screenshot

For legions of fans, a new Taylor Swift video is reason enough to celebrate. But the singer’s latest clip is also being hailed as a high-water mark for trans representation.

Swift’s new video for “Lavender Haze,” the second single from her 2022 album Midnights, co-stars trans model and actor Laith Ashley, and not just in a small part or as an extra in the background. Swift, who wrote and directed the video herself, cast Ashley as her love interest.

Ashley has previously appeared in campaigns for Barney’s and Diesel, walked the runway for Marco Marco, and was the first out trans member of the “pit crew” on RuPaul’s Drag Race. His Instagram even earned him a 2023 Queerties Award nomination for “Favorite Insta-Follow.”

At the start of the “Lavender Haze” video, he and Swift can be seen in bed together, as well as canoodling at a party later on. Ashley is clearly depicted as an object of desire in the clip, the camera panning over his ripped body as he sleeps. He also doubles as a handsome TV weatherman who seemingly draws Swift into her trippy lavender haze fantasy.

“The Lavender Haze video is out now,” Swift tweeted around midnight (naturally) on Friday. “There is lots of lavender. There is lots of haze. There is my incredible costar @laith_ashley who I absolutely adored working with.”

Swift went on to explain more about the video. “This was the first video I wrote out of the 3 that have been released, and this one really helped me conceptualize the world and mood of Midnights, like a sultry sleepless 70’s fever dream. Hope you like it,” she tweeted.

Ashley responded on Twitter shortly after the singer’s initial announcement. “Thank you so much @taylorswift13 for allowing me to play a small part in your story,” he wrote. “You are brilliant and this is an experience I will never forget.”

He was apparently still processing the excitement early this morning: “Still at a loss for words,” Ashley tweeted. “Trying to gather myself and my thoughts. I am so grateful.”

Ashely wasn’t the only one thrilled by his inclusion in the “Lavender Haze” video. Back in October, when the visual trailer featuring clips from the upcoming Midnights videos dropped, fans quickly spotted Ashley.

“Most of the trans men I know are Swifties. It’s incredible to see @laith_ashley as a part of the Midnights music videos, and appearing to be a character of Taylor’s desire no less,” GLAAD’s director of trans representation Alex Schmider tweeted at the time. “A big moment for representation in many ways.”

The LGBTQ+ media monitoring organization responded to both Ashely and Swift’s tweets this morning with a retweet of Schmider’s comments.

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