Image Source: Messenger
JoJo Siwa’s Dancing With the Stars run has been a breath of fresh air for fans seeking more authentic queer representation on their TV screens. As semi-finalists in the competition, 18-year-old JoJo and her partner, Jenna Johnson, have already made history as the first same-sex couple to appear on the show, and JoJo knows how much it means to her fans to see them compete.
“There are points in time where Jenna and I will forget we’re two girls dancing together and this has never been done before,” JoJo told POPSUGAR. “It just feels so natural. I think me coming out and my journey has helped a lot of other people, and that’s what I want to continue to do . . . I feel like for people to watch [the show] and see two girls together is really special because you’re not just seeing a female-male couple. You’re seeing two girls, and it’s normal — it’s not weird and it’s not gross. It’s awesome and accepted and celebrated, and it’s just amazing.”
Since coming out in January, JoJo has embraced being a “gay icon” for younger fans by being open about her own identity and encouraging others to do the same. “I think one of my favorite things is when people say that they wish they had someone like me when they were little because that means that the people who are little right now do have me as that person and that just feels so good.”
On Celebrating Her Identity
Speaking about what her sexuality means to her, JoJo recently sat down for a video call on Messenger with members of the It Gets Better project and Facebook’s Pansexual Pride group to discuss her coming out journey, finding personal mentors in the LGBTQ+ community, and how to be a supportive ally. “It was really a chance for me to get to talk about all that in-depth,” said JoJo, who identifies as pansexual. “Pansexual, basically, it’s that you don’t find a body attractive. You find a soul attractive, I think is the easiest way to explain it. You don’t like what’s on the outside, you like what’s on the inside. For me, what somebody looks like outside practically has no effect, because it’s all about what’s on the inside. The outside’s just a really great bonus.”
JoJo doesn’t shy away from expressing herself openly and authentically, whether that’s through her vibrant style moments or her heartfelt conversations with fans. Offering some helpful words of advice for those looking to channel their own self-confidence, she shared the secret to her tenacity. “Nobody is normal. And I think a lot of times people are worried and fearful about being judged, but the truth is nobody’s really that judgmental. Everybody’s just trying to make it themselves, too,” JoJo said. “I think [being themselves] makes them brave. I think that makes them awesome and cool and special and celebrated . . . It means that you’re choosing to live your life the way you want to live it and that’s OK.”
Image Source: Messenger
On the Importance of Chosen Families
Fully embracing who you are is a journey that differs for every individual. Still, many members of the queer community find solace and strength in creating chosen families or groups of friends who form a support system for one another, especially for those who don’t have a positive relationship with their biological families. Around the holidays, celebrations like Friendsgiving give these chosen families a space to honor each other and spread the love they deserve.
“I feel like Friendsgiving is such a time that you get to celebrate with your chosen family, which is something that I think is really, really, really important,” JoJo said, adding that she spent her first Friendsgiving with some of her best friends. “You get to just laugh and sit around and have fun and give each other love and support. I actually got to celebrate Friendsgiving with my two best friends: Jenna Johnson, who is my partner on Dancing With the Stars and Luke Eisner, the vocal coach on Dance Pop Revolution. [We celebrated] as part of Messenger’s ‘How We Friendsgiving’ [series] and mine is called Beginner Mode . . . I think [my family and I] are going to celebrate Thanksgiving early because my brother is going to be out of town for Thanksgiving, and we want all of the family [together].”
As part of the Messenger collab, JoJo and her friends ate pumpkin pie (whipped cream is a must) and made cranberry turkey meatballs. JoJo also shared her mom’s hack for turning boxed gravy into something truly delicious: add chicken bouillon. To help fans celebrate the holiday with their friends, JoJo also created custom Friendsgiving camera stickers and Soundmojis (emoji sent with sound) inspired by her personal friendships. The stickers appear in the app at the bottom of your screen after taking a photo or video, while the Soundmojis show up under the loudspeaker icon in the smiley face section of a chat.
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