Deni Todorovic, also known as @stylebydeni on Instagram, is a digital creator who puts a microscope on all things style, queer education and pop culture. The 33-year-old, who starts most their videos with, “hello my darlings, my pronouns are they/them”, is proud to be someone who identifies as non-binary and queer.
However, this queer activist wasn’t always in the world of social media. For the last twelve years of Deni’s career, they worked in the fast-paced world of fashion, but due to a little thing called COVID-19 (have you heard of her?), all of that came to a screeching halt. Deni says, “last year during lockdown, I had to stop my job, and as a side effect of that, I started kind of using Instagram as a platform, because I couldn’t work in the real world. That opened up a whole spectrum of work and a pivot in my career.”
The year 2020 was a time of change and realisation for the fashion Editor, with Deni now occupying that digital space. At the same time, they came out as non-binary, which was a journey they documented on Instagram as well. Deni elaborates, saying, “I always call myself a bit of an accidental activist, because I was just sharing my journey with people, but was also kind of educating them and sort of raising awareness around the non-binary experience.”
The Instagrammer’s mission statement is always to inform and inspire, saying, “If I’m informing someone or inspiring someone, tick. If I’m doing both at the same time, double whammy tick. That’s with anything I do. Whether
it’s queer related, whether it’s teaching someone about a new mascara, or dancing in my backyard. The combination of education and entertainment.”
Though Deni only came out as non- binary last year, they express that even in their earliest memories, they knew, “I wasn’t really a boy, but I also knew that I didn’t want to be girl.”
“It wasn’t until two years ago that I first started to hear people use the word non-binary, and use they/them pronouns and see people in the public eye like Nico Tortorella, Sam Smith and Courtney Act come out as non-binary, that I was like, ‘okay, what does this all mean’ and then I slowly started to do some research.”
Todorovic continues, saying, “then I met a non-binary person in real life for the first time, just over a year ago. When I met them, everything just made sense to me, because they spoke a truth that I’d always felt, but never knew how to articulate.”
Deni talks about what non-binary means to them, stating, “for me, being non-binary means that I don’t exist on the gender binary. I exist above, around, beyond, everything and nothing in between…if that makes sense. Neither as male nor female. Essentially, it is me giving myself the freedom to exist in a way that doesn’t conform to gender. That looks different every day, but it’s this beautiful sense of freedom, that I can just exist without being trapped in a gender that I just don’t identify with, and never have.”
For readers out there who might be questioning their gender, Todorovic has three hot tips:
One: Follow your gut..
“If you’re thinking and feeling it, then you’re probably right. Your gut is always right, and your intuition never lets you down. If you have an inkling that you may not identify with the gender that was assigned to you at birth, follow that inkling.”
Two: Knowledge is power!
“Find people and resources that you can learn from! When I first came out as non-binary, I spent weeks doing so much research, watching everything on YouTube, listening to every podcast that I could get my ears on, speaking to that one non-binary friend, and just bouncing off them.” Deni insists, “ask questions, be curious. The more you know and learn, the easier will be for you to identify how it is that you actually feel.”
“Once you’ve come to the acceptance of yourself – which is the most crucial part – then you need to find a safe space of people that you can be yourself around. So, whether that’s starting off by just telling a handful of close people around you that ‘this is who I am and I might like to change my pronouns.”
Deni who describes themselves as passionate, loyal and empathetic, admits that being an online personality comes with its own struggles. With torrents of trolls throwing death threats and slurs, Deni admits that “it was quite confronting at first,” but has since overcome that initial shock, continuing, “I’d be lying if I said it didn’t affect me, like, it absolutely does affect me but it affects me less and less every time it happens now.”
As for the near future, the influencer teases that exciting things are on the horizon, saying, “expect the same energy of content that I produce, but it will be existing in
various mediums. So, whether that’s TV, whether that’s podcast vibes. Whether it’s writing. You’ll just have to wait and see.”
And given that its pride month and this is our pride edition, Deni wants everyone to know that pride is more than just a Lady Gaga song, a rainbow or going to a gay bar.
It’s so much more than that, stating that, “the beauty of pride is that it’s a lifelong journey, but at the crux of it, pride is about loving and accepting yourself. Because baby, you were born this way.”