Opinion: Why Demi Burnett is So Important

This season of Bachelor in Paradise has been a doozy. There’s been a Hannah G love triangle, an actual fight, a confusing baseless rivalry between Derek and John Paul Jones, and of course, all the Blake Stagecoach drama.

But through it all, there has been one shining light: Demi Burnett.

We first fell for Demi on Colton’s season, where her big personality captured the attention of Bachelor Nation. But she’s really shone this season on BIP, when she revealed that she had been dating a woman – Kristian Haggerty – who later came on the show.

Now, this is a big deal – the Bachelor franchise has never featured a same-sex couple before. There was one openly bisexual contestant a couple seasons ago, who sexuality was really not taken seriously, but she was not in a same sex relationship in her time on the show.

The Bachelor has historically been very apolitical, not wanting to alienate any of its large fanbase. Demi’s relationship with Kristian has been a marked departure from everything the show has stood for – namely, heteronormative standards and stereotypes about marriage and love.

Bachelor in Paradise, to their credit, portrayed the relationship between Demi and Kristian with the respect and care that it deserved. Fans couldn’t help but root for the two from the moment Kristian came on the show, in one of the cutest scenes in BIP history. This is a big deal, coming from a show with a conservative and problematic history.

This meant a lot of responsibility rested on Demi’s shoulders – a fact she struggled with throughout the season. She was still trying to figure herself out, not trying to become the poster child for the Bachelor’s new gay-friendly vibe.

But that made it even stronger – by seeing Demi struggle through her own journey, we were able to see the damage of our nation’s heteronormative standards and what people have to face today in coming out. By showing the support Demi received from ex Derek, best friend (and Bachelorette) Hannah B., Chris Harrison himself, and the other contestants, viewers were shown an inspiring love story that hopefully made others feel more comfortable coming out themselves.

But the credit really goes to Demi herself, who consented to have her story (the good and the bad) shown on television. She was entirely open and honest throughout the process, and the conversations she had with Kristian were some of the realest conversations we’ve ever seen on BIP. She was incredibly brave going on to BIP and sticking the process through, yet still vulnerable, and there’s such power in that. We need to see more gay couples on tv – especially ones that have happy endings – and Demi and Kristian have been a huge part of that.

What we always loved about Demi is she’s large and in charge and unabashedly herself – when she came out on the show, she was continuing that tradition, making her fans confront any sort of prejudice they might have had. They loved Demi for being herself – how could they change their opinion now when she was just continuing to do that?

It was like a close friend coming out – you felt like Demi was your best friend throughout the entire journey (as she was to many of the castmates), and you couldn’t help but root for her.

Of course, we hope for a day in which we don’t need people like Demi Burnett to help our nation accept same sex couples – but unfortunately, there are still many in our nation who are prejudiced, and it takes strength and courage to stand up in front of them and say “this is who I am, take it or leave it”. Demi did just that, and we love her for it.

We wish Demi and Kristian the best, and hope that the Bachelor franchise learns from her and continues this new wave of boundary pushing and acceptance!

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