Why a Queer Relationship on “The Bachelor” Franchise is a Big Deal

Well, folks, it finally happened!

After 46 (yes, 46) total seasons of “The Bachelor” franchise, we’re watching a queer relationship being explored and developed on primtetime television. While it’s not the first time a same-sex relationship has come out of the show (Season 4 of “The Bachelor Australia” and Season 1 of “The Bachelor Vietnam”), this is the first time it’s been covered so thoroughly as a main plot point of the season. 

It’s important to note that this is all happening on the spinoff series “Bachelor in Paradise”, where a group of men and women are sent to a beach resort in Mexico and take turns sending each other home. This gives contestants a lot more options, partner-wise. It’s also, in my humble opinion, more fun to watch than one big group fighting over one single Bachelor(ette). 

Demi Burnett, a stand-out from the most recent season of The Bachelor, is here to shake things up. She came out as bisexual on the season premiere of the currently airing spinoff in a conversation with recent Bachelorette Hannah Brown. Every episode since has featured a moment where Demi speaks openly about her struggle to find acceptance with others and within herself. As a dedicated, bisexual-identifying viewer, it was incredibly powerful to watch a woman on a deeply heterosexual dating show talk about her sexuality. 

Naturally, it wouldn’t be The Bachelor without some drama. In a classic “the devil works hard, but The Bachelor producers work harder” moment, Demi’s girlfriend was flown in to Paradise.  Tears were shed, and after hashing out trust issues, they kissed under the stars while the music swelled. But they were treated just like any other couple on the show- strongly opinionated interviews, copious cliche, and dramatic, zoomed in makeout sessions. 

The way producers are handling Demi’s relationship marks a departure from the previous status quo, both on the show and for reality television as a whole. In the past, primetime reality shows like The Bachelor, Big Brother, Love Island, and dozens of others kept LGBTQ+ love stories off the airwaves to avoid upsetting the status quo and keep ratings high. However, times are (proverbially) a’changin’ and TV is gradually becoming more inclusive. It’s slow going, but queer visibility is steadily increasing across all media. 

So, next time someone has something judgemental to say about you watching The Bachelor religiously every Monday, tell them it’s culturally valuable. You’ll be right.