"It was never scary to me to put out to the world that I was happy or I was in love," says the teen star.

By Rachel Yang
June 01, 2021 at 08:21 AM EDT
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With just three social media posts, JoJo Siwa stunned her millions of followers — and gained many more — when she came out as LGBTQ. 

Though the EW digital cover star, who turned 18 last month, says she's known since she was little that she was "never straight," the actual announcement earlier this year was "so unplanned." Before that big reveal, she says she wouldn't say she was straight if people asked.

"But I also was never like, 'Oh, I'm gay,'" she notes. "And I told myself for a long time… 'If I have someone to come out with, then I will come out.'"

It started on Jan. 20, when she collaborated with the Pride House LA collective on a TikTok of them lip-syncing to Paramore's "Ain't It Fun." Afterward, Siwa called her girlfriend, Kylie Prew. By that time they had been dating for nearly a month, but no one except close friends and family knew Siwa was gay, let alone in a relationship. 

"I was like, 'I think after they post this TikTok, I think it's going to out me,'" Siwa recounts. "And she was like, 'It for sure is.' And I was like, 'Great. Sick.'"

And even though Siwa is used to sharing her life with the world, she told Prew that "we're waiting until you're 100 fully percent ready, because there's no turning back."

Prew replied: "I was ready yesterday."

And sure enough, "people were going bananas" over the video, Siwa recalls. Like the Paramore hit she effectively came out to suggested, she decided she was "going to have some fun with this."

Then she lip-synced to Lady Gaga's "Born This Way," specifically the bridge: "No matter gay, straight, or bi/Lesbian, transgender life/I'm on the right track, baby/I was born to survive."

That night, Mollee Gray, a member of Pride House LA, texted her offering to take down their Paramore TikTok, given the increasingly intense scrutiny over Siwa's sexuality. She hadn't officially confirmed or denied anything, so Gray didn't know what to think.

"I texted her and I was like, 'Honestly, Mollee, I was trying to figure out a way to tell you guys. But it's true,'" she says. "'I actually am in a really happy relationship with a girl and it's my first ever. So I don't really mind — like, it's making this all super easy and [I] feel super happy and welcomed. And I love it."

Check out EW's other Pride 2021 cover stories, featuring Lil Nas X, Lena Waithe, Bowen Yang, and Mj Rodriguez.

In the morning, she assured her publicist that she wouldn't post anything else about the situation. And then promptly tweeted a photo of herself wearing the now-famous "Best Gay Cousin" T-shirt, making the internet freak out even more. 

She says she'd taken that picture three days before and had posted it to Instagram Stories — but only for her Close Friends list. She told Prew she wanted to post it to her public Stories, and Prew encouraged her. 

"'I just did that… Everyone's going to kill me,'" she remembers thinking. "I was like, 'But I don't care. It'll be fine.' And it was never scary to me to put out to the world that I was happy or I was in love."

She continues: "If everything was to go away because of it, because of me being happy, then it's not meant for me."

Now, Siwa says she's "finally the happiest that I've ever been."

Siwa's announcement was met with an outpouring of love, and she says "literally everyone on planet Earth'' reached out to her. Celebrities like Joe Jonas posted about it on his Instagram Stories, while Iggy Azalea, Kim Kardashian, Lil Uzi Vert, and Lil Nas X (one of EW's June cover stars) were among those who reached out to her. 

"The night that I came out, Iggy Azalea actually texted me. She was like, 'Oh, my God, I'm so happy for you. This is amazing,'" Siwa recounts. "It was like 3 a.m. at this point. This was before Kylie and I were on FaceTime every single night sleeping."

She adds, "We talked for a while and I got to tell her everything. It was really sweet. She was there as a friend."

In her EW cover story, Siwa talks more about coming out, as well as her upcoming projects. Fittingly, that includes hoping to make a "gay pop" record. 

"About a year ago, I started having all these music meetings just for fun, just getting my head where I want to go," she says. "And I told all these producers, 'I want to create gay pop, and I want to have a concert for the girls and for the gays.' Turns out a year later, I am very much so gay."

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