“Best. Gay. Cousin. Ever.” read the T-shirt, which the 17-year-old dancer and singer JoJo Siwa posed in to officially reveal that she is a member of the LGBTQ+ community. Two weeks later, JoJo introduced her 10 million Instagram followers to her girlfriend, Kylie, in celebration of their two-month anniversary. This has certainly captured everyone’s attention; the news about the celebrity made many headlines and JoJo’s fans have been showering her with love ever since her announcement. Not without a reason – this is far more than just another celebrity coming-out.
JoJo Siwa’s reveal of her sexuality has the potential to make an overwhelming amount of positive impact on not only her fans but on many more LGBTQ+ children as well. The 17-year-old was included on the 2020 list of the 100 Most Influential People in the World prepared annually by the Time magazine. What is most significant about her ability to influence is the nature of her fanbase, which consists mostly of children, often as young as preschool age. Thanks to her family-friendly image, Siwa is also known as a role model for children raised in conservative, Christian families in America. A demographic which will perhaps gain the most from JoJo’s choice to come out publicly.
“Right now, what matters is that you guys know that no matter who you love, that’s okay, and that is awesome, and the world is there for you!”JoJo Siwa
Thousands of JoJo’s young fans got to hear an uplifting message straight from their idol during her Instagram live in January 2021. Siwa provided young people with something that older members of the LGBT+ community recognise as crucial during the early stages of life. That is representation.
While the representation of the LGBTQ+ community in the media is larger than it has ever been before until recently we’ve only seen fictional characters and adult celebrities be open about their sexuality. JoJo Siwa is the first child star with a predominantly child based audience to reveal that she is not straight. Her decision will have a great impact on young people, even those outside of her fanbase. They will be able to see, for the first time in their lives, someone that they can look up to who is not much different from them.
JoJo’s decision to refrain from labelling herself as one specific orientation also contributes to the good influence she can potentially make on children who are trying to find themselves and their preferences. During the Instagram live, she admitted to not being sure of how exactly she identifies and she did so with pride. JoJo shows that it is okay to not have everything figured out, especially at a young age, which the celebrity herself is still at.
“I do have the most amazing, wonderful, perfect, most beautiful girlfriend in the whole world”JoJo Siwa
JoJo first admitted to being in a relationship during her February interview with Jimmy Fallon. Her openness might not only contribute to representation but also to the continued normalisation of the LGBTQ+ community.
Despite how widespread LGBTQ+ acceptance is today, with same-sex marriage being legal in the USA and most countries in Europe, there is still a lot of stigma surrounding non-heterosexuality. It is still common nowadays to see the more conservative circles believe misconceptions about the LGBTQ+ community, such as regarding it as something overtly sexual and meant exclusively for adults. Seeing JoJo Siwa, the child-friendly performer, be so open with her identity might hopefully clear up some of these false beliefs. It could prove to some people that identifying as LGBTQ+ has more to it than just sex – it also means being free to love other people and feeling comfortable in one’s own skin.
Many parents can also benefit from Siwa’s choice to be open with her sexuality. Observing a celebrity who plays such an important role in many kids’ lives, while she shares her truth with the world, can be a great conversation starter and an opportunity to educate. Finding a child-friendly LGBTQ+ celebrity may have been a struggle before but JoJo and her image provide a way to teach children about sexuality without fear of adult content.
“Now that the world gets to see this side of my life, it makes me really, really happy”Jojo Siwa
It is refreshing to see someone with so many young and impressionable fans make such a responsible decision to share her identity with the world and embrace it with such confidence. JoJo Siwa’s coming out is a remarkable event not only for her but for many members of her audience, too. It is definitely a first and the positive impact she can bring is immeasurable.
Words by Aleksandra Wasześcik
Love Lifestyle? Read more here.
Support The Indiependent
We’re trying to raise £200 a month to help cover our operational costs. This includes our ‘Writer of the Month’ awards, where we recognise the amazing work produced by our contributor team. If you’ve enjoyed reading our site, we’d really appreciate it if you could donate to The Indiependent. Whether you can give £1 or £10, you’d be making a huge difference to our small team.