coming out isn’t easy
In January 2021, Internet star Jojo Siwa came out. Coming out is inherently a bold expression of bravery, but for someone living under a microscope operated by suburban white moms, coming out is unimaginably courageous, powerful, and inspirational.
Jojo Siwa was already the subject of plenty of online jokes, mostly about her whimsical, colorful style and hyperactive, high-pitched voice. The mid-2010s led to this weird social shift were suddenly making fun of people just living their lives was “cool.” Spoiler alert, it wasn’t. Jojo Siwa’s audience is filled with kids, so of course, her slightly juvenile, slightly crazy style isn’t compatible with boring, old millennials. Why do people care so damn much about a literal child (she can’t even vote) being their best self?
But Siwa, a 17-year-old child, had the bravery to come out in the face of all that online hate, in the face of intense scrutiny. Many in her fanbase have been supportive, with former Dance Moms co-performer Maddie Ziegler sending her congratulations. She’s revealed her best friend is also her girlfriend, who could also probably be her twin (and to be honest, they’re pretty damn adorable). Siwa is living her best life: being an openly queer, colorful, energetic kid.
Siwa didn’t come out just in the face of existing haters; she came out in the face of her audience. While clearly so, so many fans are supportive, one has to wonder how the parents are reacting. Everyone has heard the totally bogus argument: “Keep that stuff out of my child’s life” or some other crap about how being exposed to the LGBTQ+ community at a young age can “turn a child gay.” Queerness is often over-sexualized; meanwhile, baby onesies with creepy hetero phrases like “Lady Killer” are popular. As an influencer with a very young audience, Siwa is already highly visible and easily criticized for not being “kid-friendly” (despite being a teenager). Her coming-out story is a testament to the bravery required to share the most intimate detail of one’s life, especially in the most scrutinous environments.
Siwa’s coming-out story is one rarely heard a decade or two ago. Queer people have always existed, and only really became marginalized with the spread of colonization and white supremacy. But being queer hasn’t always been easy, especially for female-identifying and trans people. A history of violence, both interpersonal and systemic, continues to pervade the US, with trans women being murdered at imperceivable rates and women who love women facing blatant misogyny at every turn. Yet in 2021, an Internet-famous kid was able to safely and happily come out.
The US is far from being a safe space for queer people. But Jojo Siwa has such power in her representation. She has shown her audience of kids who adore her that queerness is not something to be afraid of, not a detriment, not embarrassing; kids can feel less alone.
This is a selection from the March 3 issue. To view the full issue, visit: https://online.flippingbook.com/view/605428379/