By Tessa Cherian and Priya Persaud
The hit series “Dancing with the Stars” has grown in popularity since the show debuted in 2005, but the upcoming 30th season for the show proves that change has come: a renowned contestant will be partnering with a same-sex partner. This contestant is known for her contributions to various industries like film and dance, and both children and adults know her as Jojo Siwa.
Siwa, who is a popular name among children for her songs like "Boomerang" and her signature bows, officially came out as being part of the LGBTQ+ community in January of 2021. She does not identify with a certain group within the community, as she has her own struggles with labeling herself. As a prominent children’s influencer, she has faced a lot of backlash for her sexuality, but that hasn’t stopped her from following her heart. Given the choice from the judges of “Dancing with the Stars,” Siwa chose a female dance partner, not only due to her personal preference, but also to remind the world that love is love.
Artwork by Shadia Zayer
Jojo Siwa takes to the stage, breaking tradition, and dazzles the judges during the season premiere.
Since she is the first contestant on the ABC program to choose to compete with a same-sex partner, Siwa has garnered a great deal of attention for her decision. Her choice greatly impacts both the young audience that follows her, as well as the LGBTQ+ community. Gaining more positive feedback than anything else, her actions have been subject to discussions, even debates, about the importance of destigmatizing and normalizing the LGBTQ+ community in the modern day.
Siwa’s actions have even reached NHP, where practical discussions about her impact and overall influence have been highly regarded.
"Her decision to compete with a female partner just shows that she isn’t ashamed of who she is and that she is willing to take the risk of being hated for simply being herself. She is letting her young audience know that being part of the community is okay, and that it is just as normal as being straight. It essentially gives them a sense of security in understanding themselves," said junior Kelly Patel, president of the Gay Straight Alliance.
“Siwa is the catalyst for change on the path towards normalizing the nature of the LGBTQ+ community...”
Fundamentally, Siwa is the catalyst for change on the path towards normalizing the nature of the LGBTQ+ community. She is trying to be the example of going against societal norms in an effort to raise awareness of a community that has been marginalized for so long. Her influential decision to compete in this ABC program with a female partner will convey to her audiences a sense of awareness surrounding differences in expression and beliefs.
“In my eyes, Jojo’s decision definitely helps to normalize same sex relationships and to represent this community. Her decision to express her sexuality through a popular TV show is an impactful way to spread awareness that nobody should ever be forced to hide who they are. She opened up a conversation about expressing your sexuality in the entertainment business, and I definitely see this as a step in the right direction for the LGBTQ+ community,” said junior Alyssa Hardeen, treasurer of the Gay Straight Alliance.
Overall, Siwa’s decision to compete with a female has sparked the discussion about spreading awareness throughout society about normalizing the LGBTQ+ community. Siwa’s primary goal is to show others that it is completely normal to be a part of the LGBTQ+ community and that no one should feel marginalized when embracing their true selves.