In XO, Kitty , I Saw My Own Chaotic Bisexual Coming Out Story
To all the YA Netflix content I’ve loved before: I was not ready for this. As my family’s resident gay sibling, maybe it’s my own fault that I wasn’t expecting the To All the Boys franchise to have a very queer younger sister, but that’s exactly what Netflix’s new series XO, Kitty delivered.
At first, I thought queer best friend Q (Anthony Keyvan) would be the only one to fill the queerness quota. But the show surprised me when something sapphic happened to 16-year-old Kitty Song Covey (Anna Cathcart), who packs up and moves across the Pacific Ocean to be with Dae (Choi Min-young), her long-distance boyfriend of three years. Still, what shocked me more than anything was how the show played out nearly my exact coming out story, one that I once thought to be so unique. XO, Kitty, you showed me there are truly no original experiences.
We all know that bi panic happens when you see an attractive hetero-passing couple and you don’t know which one you’re more attracted to. Growing up I, and I’m sure many other queers, Googled the question “how do I know if I’m gay?” while dealing with this very dilemma. The answer I got was to ask myself if I actually love women or if I just admire them. I now realize that “both” was an option and that the answer is “yes, and that makes you very, very gay.”
Still, in my adolescence, I thought that having such frequent and hopeless crushes on boys canceled everything out, believing that being gay or straight was a zero-sum situation. It’s one thing to find out queerness is a spectrum and that bi/pansexuality can literally fall anywhere on it. It’s another thing to realize this because the guy you’re in love with loves another girl and the reason why he loves her makes you fall in love with her, too.
We first got to know Kitty in the film adaptation of Jenny Han’s To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before as Lara Jean’s (Lana Condor) pithy and outgoing younger sister, who helps facilitate her legendary teenage romance. Kitty is a natural matchmaker and she carries that as a badge of honor into her self-titled spin-off series. Driven by romance and a strong desire to get to know more about her late mother, she fearlessly packs her bags and jets off to Seoul with support from her also hopelessly in love, free-spirited father. On her way to surprise the boy of her dreams, Dae (Choi Min-young), she meets the beautiful but guarded heiress, Yuri (Gia Kim).
Yuri is not just the rich girl who rides in the backseat of Dae’s father’s limo. She is the girl who is doing everything in her power to keep Kitty and her long-separated boyfriend apart. We’re meant to think that Dae is the mystery lover that Yuri tells Kitty she can’t be with when they first meet, but I never once thought Yuri was straight. A secret same-sex S.O. is the new Romeo & Juliet trope. I just wondered why her lesbian paramour had her number blocked. It soon becomes apparent that Yuri is just using Dae as her “wig” (what I like to think of as the sapphic version of a “beard”).
Naturally, Yuri using Dae to shield her from all lesbian allegations is kept a secret, even from Kitty, and it broke my heart to see her believing that her boyfriend secretly had a “girlfriend.” But my heart also broke for Yuri, as it often does when I’m waiting for sapphic characters who don’t suffer, die, or get canceled before a second season. Seeing her devastation when she was caught kissing and then immediately separated from her girlfriend, Juliana (Regan Aliyah), really softened my rage toward Yuri who, despite the homophobia she is facing, is unequivocally the villain.
Since my life is not a K Drama, my coming out story didn’t start out nearly as dramatic as this. My “Dae” wasn’t my boyfriend, just a crush. Still, jealousy can’t decipher between crushes or anything else; the heart wants what it wants and jealousy demands to be fed regardless. My “Yuri” was actually my friend. We had only been friends for a year at this point but our stories really converged with “Dae” because of a misunderstanding and a lot of lies, which I guess is similar to a K Drama after all. My “Yuri” and I met our “Dae” on the same day in our college dorms and discovered that we were both into him. Similar to car seating or an array of snacks, friends are allowed to call dibs in the case that they both want the same thing — or in this case, person. Since my friend met him first, naturally she had dibs and I told her so, but she declined and that meant he was fair game.
In the show, Kitty’s world could have been made so much simpler if Dae would have just told her that Yuri had him under her thumb because he needed her to pay for his tuition — just like everything would’ve been made simpler in my world if my friend had just told me she had changed her mind about not wanting dibs. Instead, Dae wove a tangled web of deceit around Kitty and toyed with her emotions because of an internal conflict perpetuated by an NDA. My friend also toyed with my emotions by dating our mutual crush behind my back while I was still openly pursuing him. Yuri remained stoic while Kitty’s life was in turmoil, and my friend remained silent as I continued to fall deeper for a guy who had already fallen for her.
“Kitty fell for the villain and so did I.”
I never thought that what I regarded as the most bisexual and unhinged enemies-to-lovers arc was commonplace enough to happen to both me and a fictional character, but it did. Kitty fell for the villain and so did I. Her moment of realization that she has fallen for Yuri comes on a drunken night while watching the other girl finally let loose and be herself, pure lesbionic energy radiating from her. The next morning, she wakes up panicking (very bisexually) about a sex dream starring her sapphic sparring partner.
María Saldana tells us what to do if you’re in a loving relationship, but have a crush on someone else.
My own realization came when I was writing from a short story about how painful it was to fall for a guy only for him to choose your friend over you. In learning to make peace, I stopped asking myself what’s wrong with me and started asking what’s right with her. As I typed away, it came to me: she was beautiful; the way her confidence and long legs created such an elegant stride, the way gold looked against her skin, her coquette-ish laugh that could force a smile out of the most cynical being, almond-shaped brown eyes that showed nothing but sincerity, even when she lied, and the list went on until I realized that I was in love with her, too.
Neither of our stories end well. Yuri is in love with another girl, my own “Yuri” is straight, and because of unrelated complications, all of the friendships ended. It took me a while longer to consider dating women and find out if this was all just a fluke. Update: it was not a fluke, and I hope we get to see Kitty discover the same in a second season.
Dear Netflix, please don’t let another sapphic masterpiece slip through the cracks. We need to find out if Kitty is also polyamorous and if she, Yuri, and Juliana will be in a throuple. Or will she have another enemies-to-lovers arc with Min Ho? We really need to find out.
XO, all the panicking bisexuals.
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Originally Appeared on them.