Jojo Siwa’s coming-out story is important for children to see

Siwa’s openness is a triumphant marker of change in conversations about sexuality in children’s entertainment

The entertainer’s coming-out was unmistakably happy.
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For a long time, I had no idea what JoJo Siwa was famous for. When I heard her name, the images that would spring to mind were over-exaggerated hair bows, pink Converse high tops, and an over-abundance of glitter. This past week, however, she’s stuck in my mind as the happiest celebrity to come out.

Through a number of posts shared on TikTok, Twitter, and Instagram this past weekend—including a photo on Twitter proudly wearing a t-shirt that reads 'best gay cousin ever'—entertainer Siwa officially came out as a member of the LGBTQ2SIA+ community.

In past years when social media influencers have come out, the announcement has been one associated with anxiety, stress, and fear. When Connor Franta came out in 2014, he expressed how he constantly fixated on his sexuality and how he experienced depression when coming to terms with it. Shane Dawson began his 2015 video announcing he was bisexual by explicitly stating the video was hard for him to make and that he was scared to be doing so.

Siwa’s coming-out announcement differs from former influencers’ declarations. From the outset, Siwa has expressed happiness in sharing that part of her life with her audience. From the TikTok where she appears dancing to Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way” to the video she posted on Instagram articulating her excitement about the outpour of support she received following her coming-out, Siwa has shown her audience that the decision to come out as LGBTQ2SIA+ doesn’t have to be overshadowed by stress.

Siwa’s coming-out is particularly notable, however, because her audience largely consists of children.

The children’s entertainment industry has broadened its representation of LGBTQ2SIA+ figures in recent years, but there’s still very much a lack of content geared toward representing non-straight kids. While children’s shows like Arthur and My Little Pony feature same-sex couples, there’s long been a gap in representation for children who have questioned their sexualities and found they’re not straight. Siwa’s series of coming-out posts have done a lot to fill this gap in children’s content and positively details what it’s like to understand your sexuality and become ready to share it with the world.

The children’s entertainment industry’s spotty depictions of same-sex couples are not enough. Watching Mr. Ratburn marry Patrick the Aardvark is a major step for children’s television, but kids’ TV still actively shies away from prompting children to question their own identities and rarely shows explicit scenes were children come out to their parents as LGBTQ2SIA+.

While there’s an abundance of content geared toward young adults featuring teenagers preparing to come out to their loved ones, Siwa’s public announcement provides a familiar face to children who are looking for someone to identify with.

Siwa’s coming-out is particularly important in the world of children’s media because she sets a realistic model for kids to follow when deciding to disclose their sexualities. In an Instagram live video in the days following her coming-out, Siwa announced that her family had known she “didn’t just like boys” for a while, and they were supportive of her. Siwa also noted that she isn’t ready to give herself a particular label from the LGBTQIA+ spectrum, saying she wasn’t sure how to articulate how she identified. While she’s still exploring her identity, Siwa expressed that she’s feeling one particular emotion about her situation: happiness.

JoJo Siwa’s coming-out story is nothing short of triumphant. It’s a hugely visible example of someone who isn’t suffering because of their coming-out, but thriving. And that’s something kids need to see.

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