Siwa, 19, took to TikTok to clear up the confusion after she said in a recent interview that she doesn’t like using the word “lesbian” to identify her sexuality.
“I never said that lesbian was a dirty word and I never, ever would say that it’s a dirty word because it is not,” Siwa said in a TikTok posted on Friday. “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.”
“I dont hate the word lesbian, I just – whenever somebody talks to me about my sexuality I just say that I’m gay,” she added. “It’s not the word that flows off the tongue for me if that makes sense.”
She captioned the TikTok video: “My sexuality nor ANYONES is a dirty word”
The clarification comes after Siwa received backlash online for saying she prefers not to identify as a lesbian, although she is only attracted to women. “I don’t like the word itself,” she told Yahoo Life. “It’s just like a lot. But I mean, at the end of the day, that’s what I am.”
She then compared “lesbian” to the term “moist,” saying: “It’s just like…ugh!”
Siwa, who came out as gay in 2021, went on to say how “honoured” she felt to be called a “gay icon” by the younger generation of LGBTQ+ people, and discussed certain misconceptions people have about the queer community.
“You can be queer and be girly,” she said. “I think that’s a thing, is 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.”
Replying to @🌈Liz🌈 my sexuality nor ANYONES is a dirty word ❤️🏳️🌈
♬ Born This Way - Lady Gaga
Some critics took to social media to call out Siwa after her controversial comments were published. Many people claimed she was adding to the social stigma that lesbian is a “dirty word” with her reaction.
“Um in light of a recent JoJo Siwa interview, here’s a quick reminder that lesbian isn’t a bad or dirty word,” said one Twitter user.
Others were more understanding towards Siwa’s comments and pointed out that several women in the queer community have also struggled with identifying as a lesbian.
“Lesbian is not an ugly or bad word but it takes a lot of people time to grow into that,” said someone else. “Being a celebrity she could’ve chosen to just say she prefers being called gay but like. She just came out and is barely 19.”