JoJo Siwa sparks criticism after saying she doesn’t ‘like the word’ lesbian

·5-min read

JoJo Siwa has sparked mixed reactions from fans after claiming she doesn’t “like the word” lesbian when it comes to identifying her sexuality.

In a recent interview with Yahoo Life, the Dance Mom’s alum said she felt “honoured” to be called a “gay icon” after she came out as gay in 2021. Siwa also discussed misconceptions about the queer community, including her thoughts on being labelled as a lesbian.

“You can be queer and be girly,” said the 19-year-old, whose career trademark has been her colourful bows. “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.”

The So You Think You Can Dance judge prefers not to identify as a lesbian, although she is only attracted to women. “I don’t like the word itself," she said. "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!"

Nevertheless, Siwa feels “honoured” to be considered the face of a young LGBT+ generation. “It’s something that I’ve been appointed by, not myself, by just the world calling me a gay icon, calling me this generation’s icon,” she said. “That is an honor that I do not take lightly.”

Shortly after Siwa’s interview, fans took to social media to discuss her controversial comments on being called a lesbian. Many users claimed the dancer was adding to the social stigma surrounding lesbians by attaching a negative connotation to the word. Others took the opportunity to educate the young star on why her reasoning may be considered problematic.

“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.

“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.”

“maybe a little less hate for jojo siwa, a very young queer person deeply entrenched in the public eye, and a little more condemnation of a society that makes young lesbian girls hate themselves so much they can’t even say the word,” a third person said.

Some people also noted that Siwa, who has a large following of mainly young people, could potentially influence her fans that lesbian “is a dirty word”.

“not jojo siwa calling the word lesbian gross when she has a fandom full of children who will preach every word she says,” one user said. “even if it’s a personal issue don’t go and make it anyone else’s by being mean and hurting lesbians.”

JoJo Siwa’s comments come after 23-year-old queer singer Girl in Red, whose real name is Marie Ulven, came under fire in 2020 for saying that lesbian was her “least favourite word in the entire world” in an interview with South China Morning Post.

“first girl in red now jojo siwa, lesbian is not a dirty word and the stigma needs to be unlearned BADLY,” one fan tweeted.

“what is it with these queer women hating the word lesbian, first girl in red and now jojo siwa ?? really gross ur literally pushing the ‘lesbian is a dirty word’ issue that lesbians tirelessly try to erase,” another person wrote.

Following the backlash, Girl in Red released a social media statement responding to critics who had accused the singer of being “lesbophobic” with her comments.

“Firstly, it is untrue that I’m not gay or that I am ‘lesbophobic,’” she wrote. “To even suggest this is very hurtful. For those who need to know, what I was referring to in my interview was my feeling towards the actual WORD ‘lesbian’ itself when used about MY sexual identity.”

“How we identify ourselves is a very important issue, both socially and personally, and I was explaining that using the WORD lesbian is not my preferred way of referring to myself in conversation,” she continued. “I have spoken at length about my feelings on sexuality being a huge spectrum, and why I feel most comfortable identifying as queer or gay.

“More importantly, I feel passionate in that everyone should be able to identify themselves and their sexuality with the words they feel most comfortable with,” she added. “If ‘lesbian’ is your favourite word, then power to you! I was being honest with how I felt personally about myself, and certainly not suggesting the word lesbian was itself wrong or bad.”

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