For the fans of Bachelor Nation, Demi’s reveal of her non-traditional sexuality was stunning. The Bachelor has long been undeniably heteronormative in its representation of relationships. So much so, that I may be the only LGBT+ person to watch the show.
The presence of the same sex couple, Demi and Kristian, certainly puts a crack in the foundation of the Bachelor’s traditional relationships. Does this couple really provide positive representation of the LGBT+ community though?
The first feature of this “storyline” that is revealed is Demi’s sexuality. She states that she is “fluid”, and does not want to put labels on her sexuality. This is common (and encouraged!) in the LGBT+ community as it does not place boundaries on who a person can love and how they choose to identify themselves.
Initially, Demi’s statement that she is fluid and does not wish to label herself comes across as a disavowal of her status as an LGBT+ individual. She rejects the terms bisexual or queer in favor of a less definitive title. In this way, she maintains plausible deniability should her decision to come out publicly harm her brand as a wild and bubbly bachelorette.
Despite this, she later owns her identity in a positive and inspirational way without showing any signs of backing down. Ultimately, she comes through stronger by rejecting societies’ insatiable need to label her sexuality. This proves to be excellent representation for many LGBT+ individuals who do not use traditional labels.
In several recent interviews, she is labeled by the host as bisexual, a term Demi herself does not use. Demi does not correct the error (perhaps to a fault), but therefore generates less negative representation for those who identify as bisexual by not taking offence.
It is also worth noting that Demi and Kristian are both very feminine-presenting women. This makes the couple much more palatable to the unsuspecting audience of the heteronormative show. While this expands the reach of LGBT+ representation deeper into the public eye, it is also not anything particularly new. We have seen femme couples in several 21st century television series and movies such as The Foster’s and Riverdale. While I would love to see more butch and transgender lesbians in the media, we are talking about reality television with people choosing partners for themselves, not for a fictional plot.
Overall, I am ecstatic to see a same-sex couple in Bachelor Nation. I can only hope that the season ends well for Demi and Kristian and that we might see more LGBT+ relationships in the future.