JoJo Hits Out100 Gala for Surprise Performance

Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images for Out

JoJo attends Out Magazine's Out100 Event presented by Lexus on Nov. 21, 2019 in Long Island City, New York.

This week, Out Magazine unveiled their Out100 list, a breakdown of the most impactful LGBTQ personalities of the past year. On Thursday (Nov. 21), the magazine and its editor-in-chief, Phillip Picardi, hosted a gala event in New York’s Long Island City neighborhood that featured a handful of the night’s honorees who gathered to celebrate their work and mission to, in Out’s words, advance the community through “visibility and representation, philanthropy and advocacy.”

Munching on shrimp and sliders and sipping on Truly cocktails, invited guests were treated to speeches by Picardi, cover star Jeremy O. Harris (hot off his acclaimed Slave Play), Out100 mogul Ts Madison and executive editor Raquel Willis. 

There was also a surprise acoustic performance courtesy JoJo complete with a grand piano. Hot off the heels of her Warner Records debut single “Joanna," the singer ran through a number of her hits including “Leave (Get Out)” and the power ballad “I Am,” dedicating it to the queer community at large.

“It means a lot for me to be here; to be a proud ally of the community is very humbling,” JoJo told Billboard. “Phillip was tipping me to the fact that since Trump has been in office, every year violence against trans women of color continues to go up. It shows you that while you and I might live in a bubble in New York or Los Angeles, it’s not safe for our trans brothers and sisters in America. The people here are doing incredible work every day.”

This year’s Out100 included a range of individuals across various spectrums, including cover stars Sam Smith, journalist Ronan Farrow and Schitt’s Creek star Dan Levy. Other entertainers included on the list are King Princess, Lil Nas X and Brandi Carlile.

Picardi, who was announced as the EIC of Out in August 2018 after a successful run at Teen Vogue, was frank about the difficulties of whittling down the list. “Every year we create this list and every year this magazine falls short,” he explained in a speech. “It’s not because we don’t try our hardest. It’s because it’s actually impossible to limit the contributions of our community to the culture (like Out100 member) TS Madison, to the political climate or to the global consciousness to just 100 people.”

“I’m so grateful to do the work that I do,” noted Willis in a passionate speech to attendees. “When Phillip called me to move across the country to New York and move out of the organizing that I do, I didn’t know what to expect. I was worried about losing my integrity and worried about what it would mean to my people and worried about what it would mean to try and figure out what liberation looks like in a world (where) people tell us in this room that we shouldn’t exist. I’m proud that I came to a team that believed in those same things.” 

For JoJo, the performance held special significance, as her career was put on hold thanks to a publicized drawn-out legal drama that prevented her from releasing music for years. As Picardi put it, “Before Taylor Swift was out her talking about music rights, this young woman was going through the same thing.”

“The fact of the matter is that so many of my gay fans really do rally around me,” she explained after her performance. “Especially when I wasn’t sure I’d be able to release music ever again because of the contract I was in. They just kind of gave me the encouragement, and the life, to keep going.”


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