On Thursday, “Dancing With the Stars” history was made with the announcement that the dancer and social media personality JoJo Siwa would be the first contestant on the ABC program to compete with a same-sex partner.
The executive producer Andrew Llinares shared the milestone during a “Dancing With the Stars” Television Critics Association panel.
(The show also announced that the gymnast and Olympic gold medalist Suni Lee would be featured in its 30th season, and that other celebrity competitors would be revealed on Sept. 8 on “Good Morning America.” The season begins Sept. 20.)
“I have a girlfriend who is the love of my life and who is everything to me,” Siwa told USA Today in an article published Thursday. “My journey of coming out and having a girlfriend has inspired so many people around the world.”
“I thought that if I chose to dance with a girl on this show, it would break the stereotypical thing,” she said, adding that it would be “new, different” and a “change for the better.”
Siwa came out as part of the L.G.B.T.Q. community earlier this year, when she posted a photo of herself wearing a T-shirt that read “Best Gay Cousin Ever” on Instagram. In April, she told People that “technically I would say that I am pansexual.”
At the critics’ association panel, the model and TV personality Tyra Banks — who hosts and executive produces “Dancing With the Stars” — said that she supported the move.
“You’re making history, JoJo,” she said. “This is life-changing for so many people. Particularly because you are so young doing this. For you to say this is who you are and it’s beautiful, I’m so proud of you.”
Siwa, known for her sparkling hair accessories and bubbly personality, met her girlfriend, Kylie Prew, on a cruise. They began dating in January, and in June, the L.G.B.T.Q. advocacy organization Glaad had named her in their 20 Under 20 List.
Glaad’s head of talent, Anthony Allen Ramos, lauded the show’s move in a statement on Thursday. “At 18, JoJo Siwa is once again using her platform to inspire and uplift the L.G.B.T.Q. community,” he said. “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,” he said, “and there is a real opportunity here for people to celebrate the same-sex pairing and root for JoJo and all L.G.B.T.Q. young people.”