Making their bows on ‘DWTS’: Jojo Siwa and the show’s first same-sex pairing
JoJo Siwa, the perky, blond teen from Iowa with 60.5 million social media followers and 3.6 billion YouTube views, will compete on the upcoming season of “Dancing With the Stars” — and she’ll be in the long-running series’ first same-sex pairing.
Shock of all shocks: She’s super stoked about it.
“I am so excited to be a part of this year’s ‘Dancing With the Stars,’ Season 30, and to be dancing with a girl, I think it’s so cool. My puppy Buddy — are you so excited, boy?” the 18-year-old said in an effervescent video on the show’s Twitter account.
She held the dog up for the camera, though Buddy declined to comment.
“Yes he is, he’s so pumped up,” Siwa said. “It’s going to be the best ever. I can’t wait to dance every single week, I can’t wait to meet my partner — oh my gosh, there’s so many things I’m so excited for!”
The erstwhile “Dance Moms” star, who burst on the scene in 2013 on “Abby’s Ultimate Dance Competition,” has racked up steady TV appearances since then, mostly as herself, and also has launched a musical career with singles such as the gold-certified “Boomerang.” In January, she came out as LGBTQ+ on social media, saying she wasn’t sure how to label her sexual orientation.
ABC’s ballroom competition “Dancing With the Stars” has always embraced reality TV celebs to stay “relevant.” This season takes it to another level.
A few months later, in a People interview where she called herself “the happiest human alive,” she talked about her relationship with girlfriend Kylie Prew: “I still don’t know what I am. It’s like, I want to figure it out. And I have this joke. Her name is Kylie. And so I say that I’m Ky-sexual.
“But like, I don’t know, bisexual, pansexual, queer, lesbian, gay, straight,” she continued. “I always just say ‘gay’ because it just kind of covers it, or ‘queer’ because I think the keyword is cool.”
“Dancing With the Stars” has featured famous actors, athletes, astronauts and former governors, ambassadors and presidential press secretaries, but not many who can match Siwa’s placement among Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People. (You thought we were joking but the link is right there, and the tribute is penned by Kim Kardashian West, for good measure.)
The significance of the same-sex pairing, the first in the history of the U.S. version of the show, did not escape GLAAD. The organization had previously named Siwa to its second annual 20 Under 20 List — described by the organization as “a collection of 20 young LGBTQ people who are accelerating acceptance of LGBTQ people while shaping the future of media and activism.”
The U.K. counterpart to “DWTS,” a show called “Strictly Come Dancing,” featured its first same-sex pairing in 2020. It was also two women.
Anthony Allen Ramos, GLAAD’s head of talent, said in a statement: “At 18, JoJo Siwa is once again using her platform to inspire and uplift the LGBTQ community. As one of today’s most watched and celebrated programs on television, ‘Dancing With the Stars’ and Tyra Banks are making the right decision to feature JoJo Siwa competing alongside a female professional dancer. The show has such a wide, far-reaching audience and there is a real opportunity here for people to celebrate the same-sex pairing and root for JoJo and all LGBTQ young people.”
YouTube star JoJo Siwa fielded fan questions about her recent coming out, explaining why she isn’t into labels and that coming out shouldn’t have a stigma.
However, the announcement was not greeted with universal huzzahs.
Twitter user @phillycritic1, apart from objecting to the show featuring a contestant known for her dancing — though many experienced dancers have appeared on the show, including the reigning winner, “Bachelorette” alum and dance instructor Kaitlyn Bristowe — wrote, “just because she wants to dance with a woman doesn’t mean the audience will like it. It’s a contest, not a platform!”
User @machidoanca tweeted, “God! I will not be watching this season! last season was already crazy with Tyra now this,” to which user @Armando1649 responded, “Yep your right . 94 percent of the country doesn’t care also. They are trying to conform to the 6 percent . It’s crazy”
Others tweeted in support: “This makes me very, very happy my dearest JoJo! Not only promoting ‘girls like girls’, the whole thing will be much more fun watching! Enjoy it like I do! Love you for this! Спасиба! (thanx, in Russian),” wrote @RVisser12233047.
Meanwhile, @LylliPilcher summed up another important fact: “my granddaughter will fight you in Walmart for anything with Jojo Siwa on it. she is 6”
JoJo Siwa, a YouTube and Nickelodeon star, appeared to come out as gay Friday after hinting at the news by singing Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way” on TikTok.
For her part, during the Television Critics Academy virtual summer press tour, Siwa , said being in the show’s first same-sex pairing was “cool. I think it breaks a wall that’s never been done before.”
“I think it’s really special that I get to share with the world that you can love who you love, but now you can dance with who you want to dance with,” she added.
Season 30 of “Dancing With the Stars” debuts Sept. 20 on ABC.
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