Born with Rainbows: Why Jojo Siwa’s Coming Out Was So Important


The young star confirmed that she was part of the LGBTQ+ community after speculations from people online, marking a new precedent for how sexuality, and the act of coming out, is evolving and being portrayed to the youth.

Upon mentioning the name ‘Jojo Siwa’, most people picture an energetic, colorful teenager who dons a large bow and lopsided ponytail, and caters to an audience of younger girls. She got her start on the show Dance Moms, but the teenager -whose real name is Joelle Joanie Siwa- has turned her persona into a multi million dollar brand; including endless merchandise, music singles and tours, and YouTube videos where she shows off her positive personality. Siwa was even on Time’s ‘100 Most Influential People of 2020’ list, and she started off in 2021 with even more rainbows and sunshine than ever before.

The 17-year-old posted a TikTok on Jan 20 of her lip syncing to Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way” -a well-known LGBTQ+ anthem- which got many people questioning if she was part of the community. Siwa posted a tweet two days later, where she was wearing a shirt that read “Best Gay Cousin Ever”. She later addressed the speculations directly through a nearly 15 minute- long Instagram live, where she explained that she “…always believed that [her] person was just going to be [her] person. And if that person happened to be a boy, great, and if that person happened to be a girl, great!” [CNN].

She also explained that she does not have a label on her sexuality because she is not sure about it, and that “…Right now what matters is that you guys know that no matter who you love, that it’s OK”. Nevertheless, she stated that she has “never, ever, ever, been this happy before.” [Buzzfeed News]. 

From there, good news just kept coming as she confirmed in an interview with Jimmy Fallon on Feb 3 that she has a girlfriend. She explained that her girlfriend, Kylie, was “super encouraging” throughout the process of her coming out. Siwa posted photos of them together on Instagram shortly after with the caption: “After being my best friend for over a year, January 8th 2021 I got to start calling this exceptional human my Girlfriend… and since then I’ve been the happiest I have ever been!…”. 

Although coming out has become more normalized in the past years, having a teenager -who markets herself to younger generations- come out as part of the LGBTQ+ community is a powerful risk. “Queer adults have only just started seeing themselves represented by highly visible celebrities in the past few years, but teens and children — Siwa’s audience — still don’t have many out, queer, highly visible pop culture figures to look to,” said culture author Jill Gutowitz [CNN]. The insecure and impressionable adolescent needs, perhaps more than any other age group, a positive role model their age they can look up to and feel seen, especially in regards to their sexuality. Siwa has no doubt helped many young fans feel more comfortable with themselves. Lori Duron, advocate for LGBTQ+ youth and the mother of a gay, nonbinary child said that her son “…still doesn’t sometimes feel totally safe and doesn’t see that visibility out in the world, so to see that and to see it from someone — he sees [Jojo’s] picture when we’re out shopping — it’s just meaning so much” [CNN]. 

The star also faced backlash amidst her coming out post, with homophobic comments posted on all platforms. A comment from a disgruntled mother on Instagram who said that, “My daughter will never watch you again,” to which Siwa simply replied with “Okay!” [Buzzfeed News]. 

Her relatively simple and straightforward coming out was a showcase of how the process does not need to be something extravagant or dramatic, and helps push the narrative of normalizing LGBTQ+ individuals to the point where their sexuality does not need to make headlines. Saying that she does not have a label is a great example for children who feel pressured to label themselves in order to be part of the community, or to satisfy others, when labels are a personal choice and can change as they grow into their identity. In the end, Siwa is a powerful and vibrant role model to LGBTQ+ youth everywhere, and sharing a part of herself was just the heart-warming moment that the world needed.