JoJo Siwa Speaks Out After Backlash Over Lesbian Comment

JoJo Siwa smiles for cameras at a photo call for an iHeart Radio event. She is wearing black heels, black leather shorts, and a black jacket with a silver bow.
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Aug 15, 2022 1:55 PM ET

JoJo Siwa made a name for herself on Dance Moms, but long after her time on the show ended, her star persisted. The ultra-successful YouTuber and singer came out as LGBTQ+ in January of 2021. Her coming out increased her fame and her fanbase, although it also some criticism.

When Siwa sat for an interview with Yahoo!Life, some of her comments about the word "lesbian" drew anger from the LGBTQ+ community.

Scroll down to find out how Siwa feels about labels, what went wrong in the Yahoo interview, and what she said after the backlash.

Coming Out And Picking Labels

When a fan on social media asked Siwa about her sexual orientation, she said she eschewed labels and wasn't really sure about her sexuality. But when she announced her relationship with Kylie Prew in February of 2021, she said that she used the terms "gay", "queer", and "pansexual". She went on to say that "I always just say gay because it just kind of covers it or queer because I think the keyword is cool."

But July 2022 Yahoo interview brought with it a wave of controversy when Siwa admitted to disliking the word "lesbian".

Keep reading for more about her comments, why "lesbian" has become stigmatized, and how she addressed upset fans.

The Yahoo Interview

The Yahoo!Life interview was meant to be inspirational: Siwa, now known as a gay icon, would discuss her journey toward self-acceptance and self-confidence, especially as it pertained to her LGBTQ+ status. She gave fans an honest account of accepting who she was on a holistic level, from learning healthy eating habits to grappling with her sexuality.

The conversation was light-hearted, with Siwa saying she was honored to be called a gay icon but, she qualified, "lesbian" was a word she didn't particularly like. "I don't like the word itself," she jokes. "It's just like a lot. But I mean, at the end of the day, that's what I am. ... It's like the word moist. It's just like ... ugh!"

Although Siwa meant for her comments to be casual and funny, they struck a raw nerve with some. Keep reading more to find out why many gay women avoid calling themselves lesbians and what Siwa said after her interview.

The Problem With 'Lesbian'

As the Advocate pointed out, most representations of lesbians fall under one of two stereotypes. The first usually see lesbians as oversexed, two-dimensional creatures that cater to heterosexual male fantasies. The second stereotype depicts lesbians as boring, bland, and without personal style. These stereotypes are frequently presented in movies and TV, meaning they have a strong cultural influence that has created a stigma around identifying as a lesbian.

Siwa's comments made some of her fans feel as if she were contributing to the stigma by playing into common lesbian stereotypes. But later in the Yahoo interview, she noted that "...a lot of times lesbians are taken to be masculine. ‘If you're a lesbian, do you wanna be a boy?’ That's not the case. There are plenty of very feminine lesbians.”

While Siwa's words may have been insensitive to some, she was quick to point out that lesbians don't have to fit tired male conceptions of gay women. Fans were not entirely appeased, however.

Scroll to the last section for more on how Siwa handled the backlash.

The Aftermath

Siwa responded to hurt fans in a TikTok, saying "I never said that ‘lesbian’ is a dirty word, and I never, ever would say that it’s a dirty word, because it is not. It is not a bad word, it is not a slur, and it is especially not a word that I am ashamed of saying, or ashamed of identifying as by any means." She also added that she has no problem with the word "lesbian" but does not feel it is the appropriate label for her.

Regardless of what she calls herself, she is happily taken. Siwa reunited with Prew in May of 2022, which she announced in an Instagram post that showed the two of them kissing in front of the Disney castle.

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