XO, Kitty perfectly sums up being bi in high school
|Netflix’s new romcom explores bisexuality in a refreshing new light
hen Netflix announced their To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before spin off show XO, Kitty, I wasn’t expecting to feel like I was watching myself navigate high school. Set in South Korea, the premise of the trailer implied it was a heterosexual rom-com about Kitty Song Covey going to meet her long distance boyfriend called Dae. And seeing as I’ve never been to South Korea or had a long distance boyfriend, it didn’t feel like I would have much to relate to.
But spoiler alert: things get super gay.
After finding out that her boyfriend already has a girlfriend called Yuri, Kitty swears to despise her arch nemesis. However, things get a little bit complicated when Kitty has a sex dream about Yuri… Now while I haven’t been in a strange love triangle, I have experienced the first-hand confusion of being bisexual as a teenager.
As typical teenagers do, my friends and I spent most of our lunch breaks at school talking about the boys we were snapchatting or our favourite male celeb crushes. My friend’s mum once told me off for being too “boy crazy”. But in private I knew that it wasn’t just boys which made me feel giddy and excited. I liked girls too.
Just like Kitty, I found myself getting flustered in school whenever my crush walked past me or even acknowledged my existence. I kept these feelings bundled up inside, unsure of how anyone around me would react if I told them. Would my friends think I fancied them if they knew? Would people even believe me? How could I even be sure that I liked girls? (Surprisingly, having dreams about kissing girls is a pretty big indicator that you might not be straight!)
Kitty and her “enemy” Yuri. Image: Netflix
In a pivotal moment of the series, Kitty calls her dad in tears telling him that she might be “bi, or pan, or fluid” after her feelings for Yuri intensify. It made me remember my own feelings of distress as I began spiralling down Google rabbit holes trying to find an answer for what I was feeling inside. I wanted to desperately hold onto a label to anchor myself so that I could understand why I felt so different.
What XO, Kitty gets spot on is the bi panic that ensues after you realise you like two people of different genders at the same time. Kitty is stuck between her love for her boyfriend Dae and the way that Yuri makes her feel. When you’re a teenager, not knowing something can be terrifying – especially when it’s about yourself. How can you not know how you’re feeling inside? The series ends without a definitive conclusion, and Kitty returns home still trying to process these newfound emotions.
Unlike some shows that neatly package up each character to one label and identity, XO, Kitty acknowledges that sexuality is not that simple. Despite eventually coming out as pansexual when I was 15, I’ve experimented with a number of different labels in the years following. There are so many things I didn’t know when I was younger, and so much that I still have to unpack.
It’s so refreshing to see bisexual stories taking centre stage on a platform like Netflix without any harmful stereotypes alongside. When I was younger the only time I saw bisexual representation was in storylines where the characters were presented as either greedy or “confused”. Alongside other characters like Heartstopper’s Nick Nelson, Kitty is joining a whole canon of bisexual characters who represent actual bisexual experience.
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