Who’s the first Bachelor contestant to identify as not cis/straight? The correct answer is: there isn’t one. Throughout the history of The Bachelor TV show, there has never been a bachelor or bachelorette that identified as anything other than cis/straight.
Additionally, the contestants, in addition to the Bachelor(ette) themselves, have been consistently sexualized throughout the filming of the show. The fact that The Bachelor never addresses the unwavering focus on gender roles and supporting those gender roles is a real problem; it hinders the changes the LGBT+ community is attempting to make in terms of the way society views those roles.
While I’m not the first person to recognize this problem, the truth is, there aren’t enough people actively questioning these problems. It is much easier to bypass the issue and continue on to the next episode. Of course the show is entertaining, dramatic, and suspenseful, but one must ask what this means for the whole of society and what kind of impact it can have. It’s time for a change.
The stereotypes begin when the show focuses strictly on men and women who look like they’re already signed to modeling agencies. The bachelor is very athletic and displays masculine traits: a deep voice, and facial hair. The bachelorette is also very athletic and displays feminine traits: long hair and large breasts. There is a strong focus in filming these parts of the contestants, and they are constantly put in situations where they can be sexualized to the fullest extent without being naked on national television.
To take this to a deeper level, while the contestants look how they do, there is more to it than just attractive men and women. They are cisgender, straight men and women because that is what our society is comfortable with receiving.
In the most recent season of The Bachelorette, contestants Clint and JJ became very close and were immediately made the center of attention for “acting gay." Rumors spread that they were in fact, gay, and for a short time, it was a huge focus in the media. The two contestants were quick to deny the accusations because god forbid there be gay individuals on The Bachelorette.
I do not feel that having a gay bachelor/bachelorette on the show would harm any of its ratings since so much has already been done in the media to support the LGBT+ community. There would be no need to change the title of the show, or to put emphasis at all on the change in norms that would come about by including LGBT+ individuals, but chances are, something like this would happen. If and when the day comes that an LGBT+ individual does make an appearance on the show, it would surely be headlining news.
While doing so would emphasize society’s growing acceptance for LGBT+, it will also be rather obvious that the show would simply be trying to hold onto high ratings.
Someday, issues like this won’t exist, and involving LGBT+ individuals on shows like The Bachelor(ette) won’t be a big deal. There won’t be a need to focus on two individuals because they’re “acting gay”; everyone will feel free to express their gender/sexuality as they wish to. It will simply be the norm.
Bringing to light issues like this one will help to expand the current lack of knowledge America has on LGBT+ individuals, and it will ultimately help people become more acceptable and open to love people who don’t just identify as cis/straight. Until then, we must question the depiction of individuals and groups of people in the media because shows like The Bachelor(ette) have such a huge impact on society.
Bethann Morgan is a 24 year old Psychology student at Central Michigan University in Mt. Pleasant, MI. Upon graduation in the Spring of 2016, she plans to continue to council LGBT+ youth. In her free time she enjoys writing short fiction stories and reading anything that catches her eye. You can follow her on Twitter @atypicalbeth.
Editor's Note: The views and opinions expressed on our Artist Corner and Blog are exclusively of the author and do not reflect the views and opinions of Punk Out as an organization.