It started three weeks ago, back when rumors of Travis Kelce and Taylor Swift dating were a small, simmering chatter. I knew that the only way to get real information about what Swifties think of Kelce would be to go undercover to the source, to turn over every rock, to meet them on their own turf.
Joining wasn’t difficult, but ingratiating myself to the Swifties was going to be one of my most difficult assignments. It felt like that moment in a mob movie where the protagonist gets caught as he has to wear a wire. There’s always that tense scene in a restaurant where they’re terrified of being found out, and hyper-aware every time they scratch their chest or move awkwardly.
It was time to go in.
Step 1: Change my username and avatar
In order to start this process I knew I had to use my longstanding Discord username, rather than create a new account. A new account with no posting history would be problematic, and the Swifties are smart enough to see right through it.
After approximately 27 seconds of thought and Googling, I settled on my new persona.
I was a bubbly Swiftie. I had to pick my favorite Taylor album and chose 1989, which I would quickly learn was a kind of personality tell in the Swifty world.
Step 2: Breaking the ice
With my persona established I jumped into #taylor-discussion to get the ball rolling.
I was dismayed that in mid-September nobody knew who Travis Kelce was. He was an enigma in the world of Swift. That was when I learned I might be in the wrong place. No, not the wrong Discord, but the wrong channel. Silly me thought that #taylor-discussion was for discussing Taylor, when in reality it was for introducing yourself to other Swifties. Where you go to actually talk about Taylor is one of these three channels.
I had no idea what this meant. I needed a Taylor Swift-powered Rosetta Stone to undercover their bizarre language. Was I a Meredith, Olivia or a Benjamin? What secrets did these three channels hold?
It appeared that “Meredith” was for Taylor discussion, “Olivia” was for tour talk, and “Benjamin” was for photos or videos of Taylor. I can’t verify if this is true, but each of the cat channels had their own little sub-cliques inside them.
I went to “Meredith” and asked some more, and they thought I was talking about Travis Scott.
There was still a lot of confusion about who Travis Kelce was. I needed to reassess my plan.
Step 3: The waiting game
Over the course of the next week I’d occasionally drop into the SwiftCord. Just to say “lol” or agree with something someone said. I needed “shake it off” to be accepted by the hive before more information could be gleaned.
Step 4: Anarchy
When the news hit that Taylor was going to watch Travis play at Arrowhead the Discord lit up like a Christmas tree. A few days earlier they had no idea who this man was or thought he was Travis Scott, but now it was Kelce World in the Discord. A lot of people were in favor of the possible union, but others were wary.
For the most part people were just happy that Taylor was happy.
I also learned there’s a subset of gay Taylor fans called “Gaylors” who were particularly thrilled with Swift x Kelce.
When the blurry image emerged of Taylor leaving Arrowhead Stadium in Travis’ Chevelle it sent them over the edge with excitement.
This was something out of a fairytale.
Even the normally slow #taylor-theories was buzzing about Travis Kelce and whether there were secret messages behind their relationship.
What did I learn from the Swifties?
That nothing, and I mean nothing, compares to the passion of a Swifty. I don’t care if you spent thousands each year on season tickets, apparel and decor to rep your favorite team — Swifties invest damn near every second of their day listening to, discussing, or thinking about Taylor Swift.
When it comes to Travis Kelce they generally really like him. There’s a sense of anticipation that Taylor will make this relationship more public than those in the past, which in turn will allow the Swifties to better understand Taylor’s personal life.
Learning about Kelce meant digging up everything he had done in the past. Every big play, every person he dated. They ingested every headline. Swifties love that Travis kneeled during the anthem in 2017, because it shows a similar commitment to social justice as Taylor. They are obsessed that he has a good relationship with his mom. They think his commitment to football shows drive, and purpose, something good he can bring to the relationship.
The sage wisdom of “The Spice Girls” taught us that “If you wanna be my lover, you gotta get with my friends.” Well, for Travis Kelce if he wants to be with Taylor, he had to get with the Swifties — and so far he has their stamp of approval.