Seventeen-year-old JoJo Siwa first found fame as a cast member of the reality show Dance Moms, but her career really took off when she started her own YouTube channel. The star is now one of the most popular creators on both YouTube and the video app TikTok, plus, she has a ton of other projects, including pop music and merchandise. While her subscribers pay close attention to every move she makes, the dancer and singer made headlines in late January when she came out. In a new interview with Jimmy Fallon, JoJo Siwa revealed why and when she made the decision to come out to her fans. Keep reading to find out who most inspired her to share this part of her life, and for more influential young stars on the app, check out Lily From “Modern Family” Looks All Grown Up in These New TikTok Videos.
Siwa hadn’t deliberately planned her coming out.
While her friends and family already knew, Siwa told Fallon that what started the ball rolling in coming out publicly was her collaborating with the members of Pride House, which is a Los Angeles collective of TikTok creators in the LGBTQIA+ community. Recently, she filmed a video with some of the creators dancing to the Paramore song “Ain’t It Fun,” which includes the lyric, “Baby, now you’re one of us.”
“I was like, ‘I think this is gonna out me,'” Siwa remembered during a Tonight Show interview. “And I was like, I don’t really mind, because it is true…It’s not something I’m ashamed of, I just haven’t shown the internet yet.”
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Her fans picked up on the clues.
As Siwa suspected, some of her fans thought that the video might be a statement and commented asking for clarification.
“So I was like, you know what I could do? I could either mess with them and like, tease a little bit. I could either confirm it, because it is true, or I could just kind of do nothing about it and just kinda leave it there,” she told Fallon.
In the end, the star decided to post a TikTok to her channel of her lip-synching to Lady Gaga‘s LGBTQ+ anthem “Born This Way” wearing a bow printed with rainbows, as a way to communicate to her viewers that they weren’t reading too much into the other video.
“I don’t really wanna be like, ‘Yeah, it’s true!’ right away,” she told Fallon. “But I was like, I want people to know that it’s okay.”
Siwa also shared that she has a girlfriend who encouraged her along the way.
The star didn’t reveal the identity of her significant other, but she did shout her out on the show.
“I do have the most amazing, wonderful, perfect, most beautiful girlfriend in the whole world,” Siwa said.
The two are in a long-distance relationship, which is testing both of their families, the star explained, because they’re “on the phone 24/7.”
It was a snap decision to put the speculation to rest for good.
On Jan. 22, Siwa posted a photo that was even more direct than her TikToks. “My cousin got me a new shirt,” she wrote on Twitter, accompanying a shot of her wearing a t-shirt that says “Best Gay Cousin Ever.” Siwa told Fallon that she’d taken the photo days before and had already shared it to her “Close Friends” Instagram Story—a way of communicating to a select list of followers on the app.
“One day I was on FaceTime with my girlfriend…and we were just talking about it and talking about all the love that came in, and we were both like, technically, I still haven’t confirmed it,” the teen recalled. “And so I was like, ‘I kind of just want to post this picture on my real story.’ And she was super encouraging, she was like, ‘Do it!'”
Fortunately, the response from fans has been overwhelmingly supportive. In an Instagram video a few days after that photo went up, Siwa thanked her followers for showering her with “the most endless amount of love and support.” She also said that sharing her truth with them made her “really happy.”
“My thing with coming out is that it can be a very scary thing. Of course not everybody in the world is going to accept it right now,” the star explained to Fallon. “But there are so many people that are going to accept it right now. And like I say, say there’s a million people—that’s a lot of people—that don’t accept it, there’s a hundred million that do.”
And she has no regrets about coming out in this spontaneous, personal way.
“But also, I was like, I don’t want to have it be such a big thing,” the star added. “Like what am I gonna do, have a coming out party? No, it’s just who I am.”
And for another star who came out recently, check out This “Real Housewives” Star Just Came Out as a Lesbian.