"The Bachelor" franchise finally explores LGBTQ+ representation leaving fans with passionately mixed feelings from cries of exaltation to exploitation.
For years, fans have been clamoring for "The Bachelor" franchise to move beyond its white, hetero ideas of romance and dig deeper into what it is to love and be loved in modern America. Finally, Chris Harrison has heard those cries for LGBTQ+ representation on the show and delivered.
In the hotly-anticipated moment teased since before this season of "Bachelor in Paradise" even kicked off, it was Harrison himself who facilitated the same-sex coupling by inviting a young woman named Kristian Haggerty to the island. Kristian has been the off-show girlfriend of Colton Underwood's "Bachelor" contestant Demi Burnett.
Harrison set it up as a surprise, telling Demi that they really wanted to help her find love and so they invited Kristian to the island because maybe, just maybe, she'd already found love.
Kristian, a newcomer to the franchise, admitted she struggled with Demi going on the show, but wanted to be supportive. Apparently, though, she wasn't fully prepared for just what "BiP" was all about as she did not take it particularly well when Demi admitted to her that she'd caught some feels for Derek Peth.
But the truth of the matter is that once Kristian arrived, she had no problem cutting Derek loose. Perhaps the most remarkable thing about this whole sequence of events was just how downplayed it was. Here was Bachelor Nation's first openly bisexual contestant and its first same-sex relationship and it was treated like just another day in "Paradise."
Don't get us wrong, that's exactly how it should be, and kudos to ABC and "Bachelor in Paradise" producers for showing restraint in treating this relationship like every other on the island.
No scratch that, actually. This relationship isn't like many of the others on the island because it seems to be functional, healthy and between two rational adults.
It was rough for Derek, though, when Demi did the right thing and told him she was letting him go in favor of Kristian. He took this specific breakup pretty well, but it was that this was just the latest in a pattern of familiar breakups that got him down. It's the all too familiar clarion call of "you're great" and "it's not you" that so many people have had to pick themselves up from over and over again.
After that conversation, Derek had a positive one-on-one with Kristian and then she was introduced to the rest of the islanders, which also served as Demi's coming out moment for many of them. And then the ladies got to the work of talking through their own issues that led to Demi leaving Kristian to explore other relationships in "Paradise" and why she felt the need to do that.
But it was all good, as they talked it out over a romantic dinner, both were very candid and mature and by the end of it they looked like they might be on the way to the altar by the end of this ... which would be another huge first for the franchise.
You can check out some of the most enthusiastic Twitter reactions to how well Bachelor Nation handled its first and long overdue foray into queer love. Oh, and poor Derek just became a huge candidate for the next "Bachelor," according to many fans.
Oh, and then there's the contingency that feels producer manipulated this whole thing by allowing an outside relationship onto "Paradise" when Jed Wyatt was raked over the coals for having a girlfriend back home. The difference, though, is that Demi has been upfront about her at-home situation with producers and even cast-members on the show.
Still, some fans aren't happy to see Harrison and company allowing Kristian to come onto the show as not a "Bachelor" contestant so Demi can basically continue her at-home relationship on television so "BiP" can have its same-sex moment.
Demi seeing Kristian is a real genuine moment and first mutual connection I’ve believed all season. Good for the show for making it happen. #BachelorInParadise— Nick Viall (@viallnicholas28) August 21, 2019
How does someone who's never been on the bachelor/bachelorette get allowed to stay and enjoy BIP? Demi get your girl and go home 😡🙄 #bacheloreinparadise— Emma Toporski (@emmatoporski) August 21, 2019
Demi and her gf are cute...but let’s be real, they were clearly serious before the show and Demi still went on BIP. I find it hypocritical and Derek deserves better #BachelorInParadise— Gina (@GinaChristine72) August 21, 2019
I thought the producers were playing Demi’s relationship with this girl up, but not anymore. That’s the realest love I’ve seen on BIP so far #BachelorInParadise— Guilty Pleasure TV Opinions (@TrashMedia101) August 21, 2019
I’m here for this. I don’t care if she’s not part of BN. Demi is and I want to see her journey with Kristian just as much as anyone else from the show. This is beautiful and groundbreaking. Congrats @demi_burnett. #bachelorinparadise pic.twitter.com/xenLyJYYGs— MissSaintG (@theRealMSG) August 21, 2019
For the people asking why Demi and Kristian get to stay, because we want to watch them?? Don’t we deserve to watch an f/f couple for once when y’all have hogged the stage for decades? The selfishness of hets and homophobes is disgusting #BachelorInParadise— alex (@alex45hg) August 21, 2019
Just want everyone to keep in mind that coming out, on national tv no less, is extremely difficult— To Hell and Bach 🏝 (@HellandBach) August 20, 2019
Hoping everyone can give Demi & Kristian the respect & love they deserve
If you don’t support it, leave this franchise & unfollow me 🌈#BachelorinParadise #BachelorNation pic.twitter.com/AuvMlhzJYz
Highlighting Demi’s sexuality, and bringing Kristian to #BachelorInParadise was groundbreaking. Allowing them to stay is exploiting their relationship for profit and ratings. If Kristian was a guy they would be going home to pursue their relationship. I’m done with this season.— Holly Johnson (@HoJo70) August 21, 2019