by Jane Wickline
[originally posted early 2021]
“Mom, dad--I have a girlfriend,” I said, tremulously. Today was the first day of the rest of my life. I was a lioness, a she-warrior, and today I was shouting from the rooftops that I would not let the world stop me from being myself. My mom looked up from her crossword puzzle, only vaguely listening. “You already told us that”. My father, our terrifyingly intense head of the household, poured some rice krispies into a bowl, and said, in a voice I will never forget, “You know, you don’t have to come out every day. You just have to do it the once”. Good. A misguided lecture I could handle. This had gone better than I expected. Better than any of the other times I had come out to them this week.
As a white Oberlin student from LA, I have faced more barriers than most in being accepted for my sexuality. What had inspired me to speak my truth on this particular morning? The answer is a little firecracker named Joelle Siwa. Like most adult women, I have watched Jojo’s Youtube channel religiously for years. It’s hard to describe Jojo’s content, other than that she really gets it. When I saw that the 17 year old political commentator had a girlfriend, I knew that it was still okay for me to have one too.
I was so emboldened by Jojo’s journey that I actually wrote a letter to her secretary. Here was her response:
Thank you for your letter. We are always happy to hear when Jojo’s story inspires others. We want to clarify that Jojo is not the “first openly gay woman”. Also, while we support expressions of pride of all sorts, “coming out” typically refers to sharing one’s gender identity or sexual orientation with a loved one for the first time. This is not to diminish your journey to self acceptance but, to answer your question, 1. telling your parents that you are still bisexual does not qualify you for a GLAAD award,and, 2. We are in no way affiliated with GLAAD, and are unsure what led you to believe we are. Keep being yourself and enjoy this Official Jojo Siwa scrunchie.
Jojo and I are, in our own ways, fighting for a world in which Coming Out is just a part of everyone’s morning routine, like brushing your teeth or making your bed. We still have a long way to go, but when we lift each other up, the journey seems all the less daunting. I know one thing for certain: when I come out tomorrow morning, Jojo Siwa’s scrunchie will be on my head, front and center.