8:26am PT by Jackie Strause
How 'Bachelor in Paradise' Is Exploring Sexual Fluidity
Bachelor in Paradise is spotlighting a sexually fluid contestant for the first time on the long-running ABC reality dating franchise.
Demi Burnett, a contestant on the sixth season of the franchise's summer spinoff series, came out as queer on social media when a first look at the new season teased her forthcoming same-sex relationship, a first for the U.S. franchise. "Spoiler alert: I’m a queer queen," she tweeted ahead of the two-night premiere.
When Paradise made its debut Monday, the summer dating series took an extra pause during its cast introductions to give Burnett time to share her coming-out story to former Bachelorette Hannah Brown. Burnett and Brown both competed during Colton Underwood's recent season of The Bachelor.
"I have been kind of seeing someone. Of course — plot twist — it happens to be a woman," Burnett told Brown during a sit-down chat. "It's not something that I need to label, so I feel like I don't have to proclaim that I am gay, I am straight, I am bisexual, I am this. I just like who I like. It doesn't matter who or what you are, it's the person."
Burnett went on to say that she is not exclusive with the woman, but that they "fell head over heels" for each other. Still, the reality star said she decided to join the cast of Paradise to keep her options open. "It's been really confusing. It's this constant indecisiveness in me and I just feel like the only way for me to truly know what I want and how I want to love and who I want to love is if I try out Paradise," she told the camera.
When arriving at the beach set, Burnett summed up in a voiceover: "My situation is really unique. I'm fluid. I like both genders and ultimately I am trying to be open and figure out what I want."
Burnett was a memorable contestant from Underwood's season, which aired earlier in the year. She also returned to pay visits to Brown during her season, which concluded one week prior to Paradise launching. Following Brown's sex-positive season of The Bachelorette, Burnett has been praised by fellow franchise stars for "breaking Bachelor glass ceilings" with her sexual fluidity. (Jaimi King was the franchise's first openly bisexual contestant in 2017.)
In the first week of episodes, Burnett finds herself romantically interested in Derek Peth, who called off an engagement with a contestant he met on season four of Paradise. By the end of Tuesday night's episode, Burnett has yet to open up to him about her previous relationship, and the trailer for upcoming episodes indicates an emotional journey ahead for the pair.
The teasers for the rest of the season show Burnett kissing the unidentified woman she spoke to Brown about on the Paradise beach and crying to a friend while saying, "You can't help who you love." But Burnett has also been included among the teaser montage for the finale proposals and the show is promoting Burnett's unfolding journey on its official Twitter account.
The summer series features a looser format than Bachelor and Bachelorette and allows for more hook-ups from its revolving door cast; after a rose ceremony elimination, the beach is replenished with more contestants. Still, Paradise has produced a handful of engagements and marriages, including star franchise couples Ashley Iaconetti and Jared Haibon, Carly and Evan Bass, Adam Gottschalk and Raven Gates, and Jade and Tanner Tolbert. Those couples will all return to Paradise this summer for a wedding between another Paradise couple, Chris Randone and Krystal Nielson.
Paradise, which has been renewed for a seventh cycle, reunites memorable castoffs from previous Bachelor and Bachelorette seasons in a beach setting in hopes of the singles finding love in the end. The structure of the competition is such that the men and women alternate leading the rose ceremony eliminations and hand a rose out to a contestant of the opposite sex. After six seasons of Paradise, 23 seasons of The Bachelor and 15 seasons of The Bachelorette, this will be the first time the franchise will be featuring a same-sex romance during a season.
MTV recently announced reality television's first sexually fluid cast for this summer's eighth season of franchise Are You the One?; CBS' Love Island, an American take on the British phenomenon, also featured the first openly bisexual contestant of the international franchise during its first season, which concludes this week.