Demi Burnett, who identifies as sexually fluid and who has labeled herself a "queer queen," is dating a woman on ABC's reality juggernaut Bachelor in Paradise — a history-making storyline for the very heteronormative Bachelor franchise.
Bachelor in Paradise is a summer spin-off, where singles eliminated on The Bachelor and The Bachelorette try to find love at a glamorous beachside resort. Burnett, a Texas interior designer who competed in the most recent edition of The Bachelor, was initially attracted to her Bachelor in Paradise co-star Derek Peth.
However, Burnett's feelings for a woman not connected to the show, Kristian Hagerty, persisted during her time on Bachelor in Paradise. Her coming out journey was detailed on the show (Burnett was not out during her run on The Bachelor). Bachelor in Paradise producers then made the surprising decision to bring Haggerty on to the program, even though she's never appeared in The Bachelor universe.
"We could have easily said that because Demi is in somewhat of a relationship back home that she won't find love here and we should send her home and go on our way," Bachelor in Paradise host Chris Harrison told The Hollywood Reporter. "Instead, we all made the decision to break or bend the rules a little bit."
Burnett's attention has turned away from Peth and back to Haggerty, with the two women seemingly headed for a commitment. A future episode will likely feature Burnett giving Haggerty a rose (a conceit of the franchise where men and women indicate interest in another contestant), rather than Peth.
This is the first time a same-sex storyline has appeared on the franchise, which launched with The Bachelor in 2002. A bisexual contestant, Jaimi King, appeared on The Bachelor in 2017, with the New Orleans chef pursuing a relationship with star Nick Viall. Burnett's coming out and attraction to Haggerty is an enormous new direction for the show, which typically glorifies opposite-sex courting rituals.
"Bachelor in Paradise’s inclusion of Demi Burnett’s coming out story and her journey to accepting her queer identity is groundbreaking for the series," Anthony Ramos, GLAAD’s Head of Talent, said in a statement. "Tens of millions of people around the world watch The Bachelor and The Bachelorette franchises and this move to include a same-sex relationship in an honest fashion has the power to upend preconceived notions of LGBTQ people like Demi who are attracted to more than one gender."