First Same Sex Couple in ‘Bachelor’ History Hailed As ‘Groundbreaking’ and ‘Vital’

"It’s vital for LGBTQ people to see that we, too, are deserving of love both in reality and on reality television," said one queer fan.
"Bachelor in Paradise"
"Bachelor in Paradise"

While reality dating shows like “Love Island UK” and MTV’s “Are You the One?” have embraced LGBTQ+ storylines in recent years, “The Bachelor” franchise, indisputably the blockbuster of the genre, has been far slower to adapt. Which is why a same sex story arc on “Bachelor in Paradise” has been praised by GLAAD and LGBTQ+ fans as groundbreaking. Contestant Demi Burnett came out as bisexual earlier in the season, but it wasn’t until last night that ABC introduced her girlfriend, Kristian Haggerty. Burnett’s storyline marks the franchise’s first inclusion of a same-sex relationship.

“’Bachelor in Paradise’s’ inclusion of Demi Burnett’s coming out story and her journey to accepting her queer identity is groundbreaking for the series,” said GLAAD Head of Talent Anthony Ramos in a statement. “Tens of millions of people around the world watch ’The Bachelor’ and ‘The Bachelorette’ franchises and this move to include a same-sex relationship in an honest fashion has the power to upend preconceived notions of LGBTQ people like Demi who are attracted to more than one gender.”

A spinoff of “The Bachelor” and “The Bachelorette,” ABC’s long-running “Bachelor in Paradise” finds contestants from a handful of previous seasons meeting on the beaches of Mexico in search of love, with some even becoming engaged by the end of each season. Until now, contestants on the show have only been seen engaging in or pursuing straight relationships.

“I never thought in my lifetime I would see any LGBTQ representation on ‘The Bachelor’ franchise,” wrote Alex Schmider, a transgender filmmaker who has been watching “The Bachelor” since its first season, via email. “It’s vital for LGBTQ people to see that we, too, are deserving of love both in reality and on reality television.”

While many are supportive of the development, some fans objected to the storyline out of sheer homophobia. Others tried to justify their disapproval in other ways, thinking it unfair that Burnett was allowed to have a partner at home while on a reality show for singles.

“Send Demi and Kristian home if you want pay for the vacation somewhere else and Give Dereck the date card so he can open up to other relationships,” one fan wrote on Twitter.

For Schimder, such reactions are precisely why the story arc’s inclusion is so vital.

“For this wildly popular and mainstream legacy television franchise to include this storyline now means something significant,” he wrote. “Tens of millions of people around the world tune into this show and are seeing Demi’s relationship with Kristian unfold in a way that’s both validating and evident of the culture’s evolution to be more accepting of people being who they are and loving who they love.”

See below for more positive reactions to the development.

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