The Bachelor Australia will not be getting a rose from the LGBTQ community anytime soon.
A recent promo for The Bachelor Australia teased “an urgent revelation” that would “put everything on the line” — and potentially alter the way the bachelor, Nick Cummins, views Brooke Blurton, a 23-year-old female contestant for his hand in marriage.
As it turns out, this "big" secret was not an arrest, a violent past, or any other serious event. In the latest episode of the dating competition, which aired Wednesday on Australia’s Network Ten, Blurton came out as queer to Cummins, revealing that she had relationships with two women in the past.
"It’s something big and something you should know," Blurton told Cummins, according to Australian entertainment site New Idea. "I’ve had four relationships… one with a guy … but I’ve also had two relationships with women.”
"I’m not bisexual or lesbian…” Brooke continued, adding, "I feel more sexually attracted to men." Notably, this exchange appeared to contradict an August interview with the Australian women's magazine Now to Love. In it, Blurton identified as bisexual, "and will be expecting Nick to be very accepting of that if he falls for her," the article's text reads.
Many LGBTQ people were disappointed in how The Bachelor Australia portrayed Blurton and her sexuality and took the reality show to task on Twitter for airing biphobia. Critics pointed out that in 2018, queerness should not be framed as a shocking taboo.
I hate that the bachelor made it into this ‘dirty’ secret that Brooke is bisexual. It’s 2018 get over it. #thebachelorau
— Amy Moyle (@amylouisemoylee) September 12, 2018
it was like a week long “mysterious dark secret” that one of the women had that had the potential to turn the bachelor off one of the women and was scary and risky and..... it was a bisexual competitor lol
— jessenigma (@b3hindtheaura) September 12, 2018
Fans were quick to point out that this is not the first time The Bachelor Australia has used queer people for advertising bait. Nor is it the first time the show has treated queer sexuality as taboo.
Remember on Bachelor in Paradise where the ads basically queerbaited us and falsely showed Elora and Megan hooking up? And now they dragged out Brooke’s announcement that she is bisexual just for dramatic effect. Not surprised. #TheBachelorAU
— Lachlan Guertin (@LachlanGuertin) September 12, 2018
Others were disappointed by the way Blurton discussed her queerness, which many saw as symptomatic of internalized shame over her sexuality.
can't believe brooke no homo'd herself while telling the bachelor she had two relationships w women???? 'i'm not....bisexual....or a lesbian.....or whatever'
— brigitte (@anabelsbrother) September 12, 2018
Bisexuality is often misrepresented and underrepresented by the media. According to the latest Where We Are on TV Report — released annually from the media organization GLAAD — only 28 percent of LGBTQ characters on television are bisexual, despite the reality that bi people make up the majority of the LGBTQ community. Unfortunately, the storylines for these characters often involve harmful tropes, such as being "untrustworthy, lacking a sense of morality, and/or as duplicitous manipulators."
Many critics were disheartened that The Bachelor Australia fed into this trope and failed to portray bisexuality in a positive light, as the episode was a missed opportunity to educate the public.
Channel Ten: "What is Brooke's big secret? How will the Bachelor take it?"
Brooke: I have had relationships with women
Everyone watching at home: K. And what's the big secret#TheBachelorAu
— Simi West (@simwest7) September 12, 2018
The Bachelor Australia has not yet responded publicly to the controversy.