'Dancing With the Stars' Announces Its First Same-Sex Pairing

JoJo Siwa performs at the Kids' Choice Awards at The Forum on Saturday, March 24, 2018, in Inglewood, Calif. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

Fans of Dancing with the Stars will soon be treated to an uncommon occurrence.

In fact, it’s the first time ever: The show is readying to reveal a same-sex partnership.

So reports Deadline.

During a Television Critics Association press tour Thursday, Executive Producer Andrew Llinares and program host Tyra Banks delivered the news.

Season 30’s unprecedented pairing comes courtesy of former reality TV star JoJo Siwa, who’ll be matched with a female professional for competition.

Jojo and her mother, Jessalynn, appeared on the 2015 and 2016 seasons of television’s Dance Moms:

Jojo — who was born in 2003 — released a 2016 single:

And in January, the 17-year-old hit headlines with a big announcement:

Despite the image above, she was coy where specifics were concerned.

From TMZ:

Child star JoJo Siwa just confirmed she’s part of the LGBTQ+ community — but isn’t quite ready to label herself with a letter just yet. …

At one point (during an Instagram video), one of JoJo’s fans asks how she identifies in terms of sexual orientation…and she says she doesn’t know yet. That’s interesting to note, because everyone assumed she’d come out as gay…mostly due to her own wardrobe, which literally had the word printed on. …

It’s a big deal, BTW. JoJo…has a massive audience with kids, so this is gonna reach them in some shape or form. Many think it’ll help children be more comfortable with owning their sexuality, since one of their on-screen heroes now has.

But in April, she narrowed it down:

“Technically, I would say that I am pansexual, because that’s how I have always been my whole life is just like, my human is my human.”

As for her impending pairing, Jojo offered the following:

“I think it’s cool, i think it breaks a wall that’s never been done before. I think it’s really special that i get to share wit the world that you can love who you love, but now you can dance with who you want to dance with.”

Per Hollywood Life, Jojo waxed on which DWTS pro might possibly join her in making history:

“There are so many girls that are on the show that I would love to be paired with. I think Lindsay [Arnold] is awesome, Jenna [Johnson] is incredible, Britt [Stewart] is amazing. I think if I got one of those three I would just be so happy.”

The culture is certainly changing. Very few years ago, the prospect of a female pair cutting a rug on Dancing with the Stars may have been thought impossible.

Upon hearing of the move, GLAAD Head of Talent Anthony Allen Ramos released a statement:

“[J]oJo Siwa is once again using her platform to inspire and uplift the LGBTQ community. As one of today’s most watched and celebrated programs on television, Dancing with the Stars and Tyra Banks are making the right decision to feature JoJo Siwa competing alongside a female professional dancer. The show has such a wide, far-reaching audience and there is a real opportunity here for people to celebrate the same-sex pairing and root for JoJo and all LGBTQ young people.”

It’s an increasingly popular message to young teens.

Nickelodeon’s kept abreast:

Ditto for Disney — parent company of ABC, which airs DWTS.

 

DWTS seems to skew an older audience. But with a young influencer taking part, a different demographic may just be watching: In 2020, Jojo was voted one of Time’s 100 Most Influential People.

Per Deadline, she has more than 60.5 million social media followers. Her YouTube channel’s garnered more than 3.6 billion views.

With that kind of reach, maybe it doesn’t matter if they plant themselves in front of the prime time dance-off. Jojo’s fans will learn of the appearance and its significance either way.

Like many messages these days, it doesn’t rely on people watching TV.

-ALEX

NOTE: This article has been updated to correct the initial report that Jojo Siwa would be paired with Olympic gold medalist Suni Lee.

 

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