Jojo Siwa: Paving the Way for Youth Queer Representation

   Jojo Siwa is a name many of us have heard before. Whether it be from “Dance Moms” to “Dancing with the Stars,” Siwa has acquired a massive following and notoriety from promoting love, positivity and acceptance to a young audience, and recently through her queer identity and passion for change.

      Siwa began her rise to stardom on the reality TV show “Dance Moms,” where she competed from season four until the second half of season six. Many young viewers began to admire the dancer for her electrifying personality. 

     Siwa left the hit show abruptly to sign a consumer deal with Nickelodeon. The deal included her own accessories, toys and apparel. She turned this deal into her ever-growing empire, with bow sales alone generating $400 million, according to Forbes. Her Jojo toys, accessories, apparel and bedding have led to her current $20 million net worth at only 18 years old. Siwa has amassed this amount of success from her loyal and young following, who call themselves “the Siwanators.” Her large fan base continues to grow and is visible in her 63.8 million followers across Youtube, Instagram and TikTok alone. However, in January of 2021, her large fandom felt a shift.

     Jojo Siwa surprised the world when she posted a tweet with a picture of her wearing a shirt that read “Best. Gay. Cousin. Ever.” Siwa officially came out as being a part of the LGBTQ+ community, leaving a big impact on her younger following. She received commemorations from celebrities and both younger and older audiences who wanted to voice their support for the star.

     “I like queer,” Siwa said in an interview with People Magazine. “Technically I would say that I am pansexual because that’s how I have always been my whole life, my human is my human.” 

     Siwa says that although she doesn’t have a definitive label for her sexuality, she is “the happiest [she’s] ever been, [and] that’s what matters.”

     Although it’s 2022, positive and reinforcing representation is still important as it allows the LGBTQ community to become more normalized and less “taboo” in society. This is crucial in any media for queer youth and adults to find solace and acceptance by being able to see, read and hear the voices of people who look like them and have the same identifying labels. Queer representation online has helped many younger people, as they can freely learn who they are, and that they aren’t a burden, weird or different. Young role models like Siwa are a great representation for young audiences. 

     “If you want to fall in love with a girl, if you want to fall in love with a boy, if you want to fall with someone … who is non-binary, that is incredible. Love is awesome. You can be in love with whoever you want to be in love with and it should be celebrated,” Siwa said.

     Siwa made recent history on the popular television show “Dancing with the Stars” by having the first same-sex partnership the show has seen since its start in 2005. Siwa thought it was important to break the show’s tradition. This one step towards change can lead to the show having more than one same-sex partnership at a time in future seasons, even having male or non-binary partnerships in the future as well.

     “The fact that she chose a girl and they look so good together and they’re doing amazing makes me think that it’s going to change ‘Dancing with the Stars’ forever,” senior Annika Grosfeld said. “A lot of people, if they don’t see the LGBTQ community, it might make them uncomfortable, but with more exposure, the more comfort and normalcy there is around it, and that’s what Jojo is doing.”

     Before making history on “Dancing with the Stars,” Siwa has been recognized by organizations, such as TIME magazine and the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), for her inspiring leadership and new role model status. In 2020, TIME named her on their annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world as she amassed over 45 million followers across all her social media platforms. GLAAD put Siwa in their 20 under 20 list which “celebrates and honors the young LGBTQ people who are spearheading a new future, one where every LGBTQ person is visible, protected, and free to be who they are.”

      “I love that in today’s world we are able to love who we wanna love,” Siwa told GLAAD. “It’s so accepted to be who you are. I’m really proud to be part of a community and family that is filled with love and happiness! To be able to share that with so many people everywhere in the world is amazing.”