Entertainment

Op-Ed: I Just F*cking Can't With Taylor Nolan And Her F*cking Hypocrisy

Scary Mommy, Vivien Killilea/Getty and bachelordiscuss/Instagram

Trigger warning: suicide, racism, transphobia, homophobia, fatphobia,

Another day, another revelation of disgusting behavior from members of “Bachelor Nation.” This time, the egregious behavior demonstrated by past contestant Taylor Nolan isn’t limited to racism (against basically every demographic of BIPOC), but includes homophobia, transphobia, fat-shaming, mental illness shaming, slut-shaming and is basically a “how to” guide of intolerance and bigotry. When I first stumbled upon her old tweets on Instagram, I felt a mix of nausea and complete rage.

This time around there are some interesting nuances to the story. None of them excuse Nolan’s behavior; in fact, they amplify the damaging impact that oppression has on everyone, and how oppression manifests when it’s internalized – though, make no mistake, internalized oppression is a symptom and not an excuse. Because this time, the person whose behavior has been called out is a person of color. Taylor Nolan is biracial, with Black and white parentage (and let me say, as a Black biracial person – thanks a lot for living up to the bougie, colorist, too-good for everyone else stereotype, Taylor). She also happens to be a mental health counselor, which makes her comments about mental health and suicide particularly concerning.

Taylor has made a name for herself as an outspoken anti-racist, which has drawn the ire of those fans vehement in their vilification of Rachel Lindsay (resulting in Lindsay suspending her Instagram account this week) and excusing the racist actions of contestant Rachael Kirkconnell and host Chris Harrison. So not only is the news of Taylor’s offensive past disappointing in and of itself, but it also lands as hypocritical given her current stances on racial justice, and her career as a therapist.

Let me be clear: while Taylor’s past is problematic AF in its own right, it’s also true that people have the capacity to grow and change. However, Taylor’s response to recent events has left many of us who are committed to anti-racism perplexed.

In her messy, lacking in accountability pseudo-apology, she points to internalized racism as justification for her worldview at the time (again – no passes for that mess). She also references the age of her tweets, without acknowledging that the date stamps do not indemnify her actions ten years ago any more than Rachael Kirkconnell’s actions (from three years ago) give her a pass. Racism was wrong in 2011, it was wrong in 2018, and it’s wrong today. While it should be expected that each of us has grown over time, and while we all, without a doubt, have said and done things in the past that we regret and now know were wrong, it is incumbent upon us all to take responsibility for our own actions and to own them without making excuses for them.

Taylor’s apologies – from her now deleted rambling, blasé, self-centering video, and the version she published from her iPhone Notes app (seriously, are you kidding me?), and the version published on Instagram – center her feelings, go off about how woke she is now, and place blame on the racists who outed her for her racism (more on that in a minute). She doesn’t even take the time to name each of the marginalized groups she said disgusting things about. She claims she was aware those tweets were out there, and that she never deleted them because they are part of her journey. She celebrates how woke she is now, but says nothing about the actual process that took her from a publicly racist, ableist, body shaming, homophobic, transphobic slut-shamer to some new and improved therapist of wokeness. If education, accountability and doing the work was actually of value to her, you would expect to see some transparency in how she got from point A to point Z, but none of that self-awareness is present in any version of her apology saga. It’s very telling.

Taylor calls out the myriad racists in “Bachelor Nation” as the villains behind her outing, which is another attempt to deflect responsibility. I have no doubt that the Karens hellbent on bringing Rachel Lindsay to her knees (STOP IT, it’s disgusting and you’re embarrassing yourselves, Rachel is a Queen who deserves respect) were the ones who dug up these receipts on Taylor, but they are not responsible for Taylor’s actions. Those alone fall to her. That those tweets existed to be discovered is on Taylor, not those who found them.

When we say there’s no space for bigotry in “Bachelor Nation,” that includes bigotry displayed by Black and brown folks as well. You cannot claim to be fighting for the liberation of us all when you are complicit in the oppression of others. It may be true, and seems very likely, that Taylor isn’t the same person now that she was then, her defensive, dismissive series of (deleted) apologies reveal that she still has a long way to go in her…(ahem)…~journey~.

At a time when Black trans women are one of the most endangered demographics in our country, and when hate crimes against Asian people are on the rise, Taylor has an opportunity to use her past offenses in a meaningful way and model humility, courage, and show what it truly takes to learn and do better. So far though, her apologies have fallen short of that mark. Frankly, and it pains me to the depths of my soul to type this, Rachael Kirkconnell has done a better job of demonstrating contrition.

Considering Taylor has been the recipient of reparations through Venmo for the social justice work she’s done on her social platforms, I’m thinking a start to real accountability here would look like some generous donations to organizations supporting the various groups of human beings she has publicly disparaged and mocked.

So what next? Honestly, the whole lot of them – Chris Harrison, Rachael Kirkconnell, Taylor Nolan – need 90 days at Accountability Bootcamp. Each of them has a long way to go in realizing the impact of their words and actions – not just when they’re up to their knees in a mess of public embarrassment. They need to learn accountability when they aren’t scrambling around to save face. They need to learn the what, why and how of repairing the harm they’ve caused.

Taylor has requested viewers consider showing her the grace they felt Rachael K was entitled to, and while I believe that accountability comes first and grace follows, at the discretion of those harmed, I would be remiss in not calling out the double standard in how Black and white women are treated, particularly when dispensing grace. You need only look at how Rachel Lindsay has been treated by rabid fans of the show to see the discrepancy: she has been vilified in defense of Chris Harrison and Rachael Kirkconnell, as though pointing out racism is worse than actually being racist. Both Taylor and Rachael K have a lot of work to do, and accountability must be tangible and be felt outside the platforms of Instagram or Twitter, but when and if this accountability takes place, Taylor should not be measured by a different standard than Rachael K.

Personally, I would love to see some sort of public forum on anti-racism held under the banner of “The Bachelor,” acknowledging all the harm perpetuated by members of the franchise and doing some real education on anti-racism. Chris Harrison would not be welcome to host this, but he should definitely sit down, shut up and try to learn something.

Secondly, if “The Bachelor” is going to continue as a franchise, beyond all the very obvious work that needs to be done behind, and in front of the cameras in regards to increasing diversity, for the love of god please find someone to vet these freaking contestants properly. If the sleuths of the family Reddit can do it (shoutout to my “90 Day Fiancée” sub), certainly ABC can manage it. As it stands, my first grader could do a better job than whatever process (or lack thereof) they are currently employing. There’s no excuse for this.

Finally, the entire culture of “Bachelor Nation” needs a makeover. While many are calling for the entire series to be put to bed, I have a different idea. I, for one, would like to see going forward casts that are truly inclusive. Contestants and leads alike that represent a variety of races, ethnicities, body types, abilities, and for the love of god can we please finally get some LGBTQIA+ representation? Ditch the freaking ballgowns and bullshit and show us regular people connecting with other regular people and finding love. After you vet the hell out of them first.

If you are currently having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Non-U.S. citizens can visit IASP or Suicide.org to find help in their country.