By Christine Siamanta Kinori
JoJo Siwa is breaking barriers weekly as the first dancer competing with a same-sex partner on Dancing with the Stars. JoJo is a dancer and social media sensation who came out earlier this year. At only 18 years old, she is also making history by shattering stereotypes and using her platform to uplift and inspire the LGTBQ+ community.
In its 30 seasons, Dancing with the Stars has never had a same-sex couple compete. The impact that this decision has especially for the LGBTQ+ community is not lost. The show is creating a real opportunity for its wide and far-reaching audience to celebrate the same-sex pairing and root for JoJo and the LGBTQ+ community.
JoJo said that she is proud that the show made this move and allowed her to dance with professional dancer Jenna Johnson, saying in an interview that she now gets to spread the message that it is okay to love who you love, especially to her younger fans.
JoJo has always been open about her life and before coming out publicly, she still supported the LGBTQ+ community. She sees this opportunity as another chance to bring more awareness and visibility for the community. She is on the right track as many have started calling her a ‘gay icon.’ In a recent interview with Ellen DeGeneres, she admits that it feels surreal to have earned the new label, reflecting “because I look at people who are called gay icons — you [Ellen], Lady Gaga, Freddie Mercury, my favorite people — and to be in that category, at 18, is just insane.”
JoJo and her dance partner Jenna have been wowing the audience and the judges with their stellar performances. When they were ranked at the bottom in last week’s episode, fans were livid on social media and raised concerns that it could be people’s uncomfortableness with seeing a same sex pair. However, JoJo is clear that she has no regrets coming out publicly and she is content with the outcome of her coming out. She is aware of homophobic attacks and is paying no attention to the rants. Her focus is on breaking the barriers.
This is a sparkling moment for LGBTQ+ representation on television. It is inspiring for younger queer viewers watching it at home to have someone to look up to. JoJo is not a TV character but an actual person at 18 who is proudly living her authentic life. She is showing millions of teens that being queer is not “inherently adult’’ and queer teenagers have a role model they can actually relate to.
JoJo dancing with Jenna on this show is not just about passion for performing- it is also proof that we are making tremendous steps in the right direction for LGBTQ+ representation, especially for the queer kids out there. As JoJo said, it is a change for the better. It is groundbreaking considering she’s one of the world’s biggest children’s entertainers. It is revolutionary and I am glad that LGBTQ+ youth are being given a chance to see someone their age be unapologetically themselves and be loved and celebrated for living in their truth.
About the Author:
Christine Siamanta Kinori grew up in a little village in Kenya known as Loitoktok near the border of Kenya and Tanzania. All she wanted to do when she grew up was to explore the world. Her curiosity led her to join Nairobi University to pursue a degree in Journalism and Mass Communications. She later got a job with an amazing travel magazine Nomad Africa which gave her the opportunity to explore Africa. She also writes for numerous travel websites about Africa and tries to create a new narrative in the media about our aesthetic continent.
Christine claims to have somewhat unhealthy addiction to TV and reading, as it is a fun way to keep herself occupied during the long journeys for her travel writing. She is also a believer of letting people be their beautiful selves. To her, love is love and it is the greatest gift we have as humans.