Teen star JoJo Siwa has made a brand out of glittery, colorful joy, but nothing — not even singing or dancing — has brought her as much happiness as discovering (and showing the world) who she really is. "Performing has always made me super happy," Siwa told People. "But for the first time, personally, I am like, whoa, happiness. I am so proud to be me."
In this week's People cover story, Siwa opened up about falling in love and coming out to her 33 million TikTok followers. She previously said that she was "not ready" to "label" her sexuality, and although she's still figuring it out, she told People that she's excited to find the words that best describe her identity. "I still don't know what I am. It's like, I want to figure it out," Siwa said. She added that she often jokes that she's "Ky-sexual," since her girlfriend's name is Kylie. "I don't know, bisexual, pansexual, queer, lesbian, gay, straight. I always just say gay because it just kind of covers it, or queer because I think the keyword is cool… 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."
In January, Siwa shared a TikTok of herself lip-synching along to "Born This Way" by Lady Gaga. Two days later, she posted a photo of herself donning a shirt that read "Best. Gay. Cousin. Ever." After receiving an outpouring of love from fans and celebrities, Siwa said in an Instagram video that she's the "happiest I've ever been."
This happiness is also thanks to Kylie, who she says inspired her to come out and supported her throughout the entire process. According to People, the two started dating in late 2020 but were best friends even before that. "I told her my whole spiel that I tell everyone when they ask me my life story," Siwa said. "She goes, 'I could have Googled that. I want to know your life story. You just told me about your career. I want to know about you.' And I was like, 'No one's ever asked me that before.'"
Unfortunately, along with overwhelming support, Siwa has also faced homophobic backlash. However, as she told Jimmy Fallon in February, the opportunity to be herself and love her girlfriend matters more than the negative comments. "If I lost everything that I've created because of being myself and because of loving who I want to love, I don't want it," she said at the time.
It's a sentiment she reiterated to People. Siwa said that she decided to Google herself after sharing her first video, and was shocked by the homophobia she found. "I was thinking that all the comments were going to be nice and supportive, and they weren't. A lot of them were, 'I'm never buying your merch again. My daughter's never watching you again,'" she said, adding that she couldn't sleep for several days after seeing those comments. But, she explained, she doesn't want to sell her merchandise to people who don't truly support her — or to people who don't support the LGBTQ+ community as a whole.
Right now, she's on top of the world. "I've never gotten this much support from the world," Siwa said. "I think this is the first time that I've felt so personally happy."