Jojo Siwa, the 17-year old YouTube star and singer, is known for her larger-than-life hair bows, glittery fashion sense and boundless, energetic personality. But the social media celebrity almost broke the internet on Jan. 22, when she confirmed she is part of the LGTBQ community.
Speculation about Siwa’s coming out actually began the previous day when the former “Dance Moms” star posted a video on her TikTok account. In it, she lip-syncs to Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way,” which includes the lyrics, “No matter gay, straight or bi / Lesbian, transgender life / I’m on the right track baby / I was born to survive.”
That video quickly got fans talking and offering congratulations at her apparent announcement, despite no other confirmation from Siwa at the time.
“If this is what I think it is, we accept you of course!” said fellow YouTuber and TikTok user Avery Cyrus.
After endless comments, tweets and questions, along with a celebratory video featuring Siwa dancing with Pride House L.A. members from TikToker Kent Boyd, Siwa finally decided to confirm her coming out with a photo she posted on her Twitter account of her wearing a new shirt given to her by her cousin that reads, “Best. Gay. Cousin. Ever.”
My cousin got me a new shirt pic.twitter.com/DuHhgRto7b
— JoJo Siwa (@itsjojosiwa) January 22, 2021
Then, over the weekend, she chatted with fans on her Instagram page to thank them for the overwhelming support she received since her announcement.
“My career has always made me super happy,” she said. “But like personally, I have never ever, ever been this happy before and it feels really awesome.”
When asked how she labels herself in terms of her sexuality, Siwa said she wasn’t ready to say, as she doesn’t fully know yet. And when asked how long she’s identified with the LGBTQ community, she said she didn’t know for sure.
“I think my whole life, because my whole life I have really, really been just, I liked people,” Siwa explained to her fans during her Instagram Live. “But I never had fallen in love before, but I always believed that my person was going to be my person. And if that person happened to be a boy, great. If that person happened to be a girl, great.”
Siwa also said coming out was her way to let her young fans know that’s it’s OK to be who they are, no matter what other people may think.
“Right now what matters is that you guys know that no matter who you love, that it’s OK, and that it’s awesome and the world is there for you. There’s so many people who are there for you,” she said. “And I know everyone’s situation is different and it might be harder for some people and easier for some people to come out or to be themselves, but I think coming out has this stigma around it that it’s a really, really, really scary thing. But it’s not anymore. There’s so many accepting and loving people out there that it’s OK.”
The impact of Siwa’s public declaration has not only rocked social media but also has the potential for deeper effects on society. Having a celebrity, especially one with a younger target audience that openly identifies as a member of the LGBTQ community, may help those fans feel more secure in their own identities even if they aren’t sure what they are yet.
One Twitter user emphasized the importance of Siwa’s announcement:
if you don't think jojo siwa coming out as gay is a big deal;
just remember that there are lgbt kids that watch her videos that may have felt so alone with their identity and seeing the person they look up to coming out makes them feel safer and more comfortable with themselves
— 🌷 bi rights (on hiatus) (@sapphicbisexual) January 22, 2021
Not all people were pleased with Siwa’s coming out announcement, though.
Some parents commented on Siwa’s social media accounts that they intend to stop allowing their children to watch their favorite online celebrity. The comments didn’t seem to bother Siwa much or Nickelodeon, the cable TV network for kids that Siwa signed a contract with back in 2017 for a number of production opportunities.
The network shared its support of Siwa on Twitter following her posts.
Never been more proud ❤️🧡💛💚💙💜https://t.co/HCChUgRfOY
— Nickelodeon (@Nickelodeon) January 24, 2021
Siwa’s parents, whom she says already knew, have embraced their daughter’s news with love and understanding, and Siwa shared a few of her dad’s words with fans.
“Like my dad said, ‘Love is universal,'” she said near the end of the Instagram video. “You guys can love whoever you want to love, and you guys can do in life whatever you ever want to do. You can dream a dream and you can make that dream come true, no matter what.”