Actual human ray of sunshine JoJo Siwa has had an exciting couple of days. On Thursday, the 17-year-old singer, dancer and internet superstar posted a TikTok of her lip syncing to Lady Gaga's gay anthem 'Born This Way'. It was a subtle-not-subtle hint that many took to be JoJo coming out. It went viral, racking up more than 34 million views and a huge outpour of support for the dancer.
The next day, she tweeted something a tad more definitive, showing off a new tee.
Celebs and fans alike flooded comment sections to express their pride and support – with stars as diverse as Todrick Hall, James Charles and Paris Hilton showing up to celebrate JoJo's news. Even Smash Mouth (!) offered a cheeky nod of approval, retweeting the dancer's post with the hashtag #AllSiwa.
A few celebs have publicly come out lately, so what makes JoJo's announcement so unique?
Since appearing on Abby's Ultimate Dance Competition and subsequently Dance Moms, JoJo Siwa has skyrocketed to fame; transforming into a multimillion-dollar brand and boasting an unbelievable huge audience of young people. Her iconic bows and sparkly colourful style, coupled with her unwavering positivity, have made her a hit with kids all over the world. (Even North West is a fan.)
She was also featured as one of the 100 most influential people in the world in last year's Time magazine. So you know, no biggie.
JoJo has come into her stardom in the public eye, first making waves on TV at just ten years old. The fact that we've seen her grow up and come into herself, as well as her enormous under-12 fan base is why her coming out is such a big deal.
Many Twitter users reacted to the news by noting how remarkable it is to have an openly queer children's entertainer with such a huge platform.
It's not very often (if at all) that discussions of queerness intersect with the world of children's entertainment. As one Twitter user pointed out, JoJo's coming out has the potential to challenge TV networks and parents who might archaically think this somehow impacts JoJo's kid-friendly brand. Although the reaction has been overwhelmingly supportive, there were a small handful of comments from parents vowing to not let their kids enjoy JoJo's music anymore.The Siwanators promptly shut these assholes down, and their hateful voices luckily have been drowned out by the love and excitement.
The fact that JoJo's millions of fans (and their families) now have a new LGBTIQA+ icon to admire from a young age is enormous. Her visibility means that families can have discussions about same-sex attraction early on, which absolutely has the ability to change lives. Young people questioning their sexuality or gender can look up to her and see a positive, popular and sparkly role model.
JoJo Siwa took to Instagram Live yesterday to express her gratitude at the support she'd been given, commenting over and over again how happy she feels to have come out.
"Personally, I have never, ever, ever been this happy before, and it feels really awesome," she said.
"Right now, what matters is that you guys know that no matter who you love that it's okay – that it's awesome, and the world is there for you, there are so many people that are there for you."
Nickelodeon, a cultural cornerstone of kid's entertainment, tweeted how proud they are of JoJo. As kids, we base so much of what we view as normal on what we see around us, in our communities and on TV, so the impact of Nick's backing of JoJo is absolutely immeasurable.
The comment section of JoJo's Live was also flooded by proud parents who applauded JoJo's courage and spoke to the supportive and open conversations they'd be having with their kids in the coming days. Some same-sex parents chimed in, stating how "awesome" and "huge" this is. On Instagram, one parent commented:
"This is HUGE, and such a profound statement for so many kiddos out there!! Our daughter loves you, and I rushed into her room last night when I heard, and had the longest talk with her about you coming out! What incredible representation she gets not just from her Moms, but from her idol as well!! How awesome is that?! Love your bravery, love your enthusiasm, and love that you have chosen YOU and your truth!! Thank you for being such an incredible example for so many! All the love, and welcome to the fam "
Representation matters, and having queerness be shown proudly to countless kids around the globe has the potential to shift cultural attitudes in a big way.
Congratulations, Jojo! Welcome to the family: we're so excited to see the positive impact this will have on young people everywhere. Your enviable wardrobe of rainbow sparkly outfits now feels extra fabulous to see.
Written by Dani Leever, a writer and homosexual pop culture enthusiast.
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