“I Wanna Dance With Somebody”: Does it Matter Who?
Each day, the media is taking steps towards making the world a more comfortable and inclusive place for the LGBTQ+ community. Over the past several years, many celebrities on social media have shown strength and determination in coming out. Their stories allow people to feel more comfortable in being a part of the LGBTQ+ community.
Former star of Dance Moms and popstar phenomena, Jojo Siwa, recently made history by being part of the first same-sex pairing on a U.S. version of the dance competition, Dancing with the Stars. The pairings have always been boy-girl, until Season 30 when Jojo Siwa was partnered with Jenna Johnson, dancer and choreographer.
Siwa, coming out to the public in January 2021 as bisexual and a part of the LGBTQ+ community, was given the choice of having a male or female partner. Jojo responded by saying she wanted to dance with a girl. Additionally, she said, “Why not show the message even stronger that you can love whomever you want to love?”
Jojo Siwa utilizes her large following to uplift those who feel uncomfortable and scared to come out. Anthony Allen Ramos, the head of The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), mentioned that Dancing with the Stars is popular among large numbers of people, and this emergence of same-sex couples on the show will be “celebrated” across the nation and change the ways in which some people think about the LGBTQ+ community.
Their untraditional partnership was also exciting to see because they performed without the normal “male” lead, so they each took on the traditional leading role at different times. Siwa mentioned that there were “different routes” they could have taken with each dance, such as the clothes and shoes they wear. Sometimes one individual needed to dress more femininely than the other and vice versa.
"Partnering with another girl will give other people around the world more courage to say, 'It's OK that I love somebody of the same sex.'"
Though this amazing opportunity is making history, some individuals think otherwise. In the same interview, the dancing sensation shared her input on criticism regarding her choice of pairing with a same-sex partner on the show. Siwa inspiringly said, “I don't need those people in my life. If it's wrong or weird to you, that's OK, because there's a billion other people who don't think it's wrong or weird. Partnering with another girl will give other people around the world more courage to say, 'It's OK that I love somebody of the same sex.'"
Jojo Siwa’s partner, Jenna Johnson, revealed that she was nervous at first to make such an impact on the Dancing with the Stars franchise. She opened up to the public on Instagram and said that she felt like this change was necessary, but also a big responsibility. She was initially not sure if she could take it on and “do it justice." Johnson goes on to say how there would be “loud disapproval week after week,” and even though she immediately accepted the opportunity, she was uneasy.
“I didn’t know what I was doing exactly, but I knew I wanted to make all of her dreams come true this season. Sometimes my brain felt like it was going to explode trying to figure out how two females could hold their own during this competition, but it was oh so worth it."
Once she met Jojo, her fears vanished. Jenna reports, “I didn’t know what I was doing exactly, but I knew I wanted to make all of her dreams come true this season. Sometimes my brain felt like it was going to explode trying to figure out how two females could hold their own during this competition, but it was oh so worth it." Jenna reminisced on watching Jojo grow as a ballroom dancer and how her improvement was a result of her hard work and dedication.
Siwa and Johnson earned second place in the competition and, throughout this season, received exceptional scores. Their dance on “Grease Night” received a 40 out of 40, a perfect score.
So what’s next for not only Dancing with the Stars but other American competitions? Will there be more tolerance in other shows? Jojo Siwa and Jenna Johnson may have set the stage (or dance floor) for others to shine.