Mon. Nov 29th, 2021

Ttwice a week for the past five weeks I have called my parents at. 19.30 and spent an hour and a half talking about bisexuality and the need for greater education around the indigenous culture of Australia.

The first is deeply personal to me, and something that I, because of my own internalized prejudices, was worried I would never be able to talk casually about, even with my extremely progressive mother and father. The second is something that was discussed in our household when we were growing up, but when we look back (despite the best intentions) we only scratched the surface.

And yet, these conversations have suddenly become a different nature because of this season of The Bachelorette Australia. Not just frequent, but in-depth and expansive, and I’m sure my family is not the only one.

(Also, yeah, I know it’s boring to watch The Bachelorette with your parents on the speakerphone, but hey, we’ve just been through a pandemic, and I’ve gotten away with it.)

Having Brooke Blurton, a bisexual Noongar-Yamatji woman, in this season of The Bachelorette should not have been as groundbreaking as it was, but I do not think we can underestimate the impact of a mainstream, primetime, family-friendly television program bringing these topics into living rooms across Australia has.

In Thursday’s finale, Blurton’s friend Amy Thunig, an academic, podcast host and Gomeroi woman, asked the two remaining suitors, Jamie-Lee and Darvid, a simple question: “What land do you live on?” When none of them could answer, the crowd shrank around the country, taking a collective break and then taking their phones instead of google.

Twitter was filled with tweets of people saying their friends texted and asked whose country they were in and my next half hour was dominated by discussions with my parents about how invisible Australia’s true history really is in our daily life.

When Thunig pushed on and asked the participants to name the mob to which Blurton belonged, it dawned on me that I had embarrassingly never actively gone out of my way to teach it about the indigenous peoples of my life.

Again, I know how unbearably basic this is, but I think, as the old saying goes, “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is today.”

Throughout this season, there were also moments where I saw my queer identity represented in a way that I would never have thought was possible in a franchise like The Bachelor.

You had Brooke and (then front-runner) Holly sitting on the classic love sofa talking about the complex and painful experience of invisible bisexuality.

In the very next section, we saw the fan favorite Konrad talk about freeing himself from the limitations of toxic masculinity, a journey that so many important men in my life have also gone through. Even just the word “bisexual” was not treated as if it was embarrassing or passé, felt so liberating.

Blurton’s relationship with men and women in the show was treated almost identically. Yes, this is the absolute minimum, and yet it had an impact.

When I got home from work the other day, my mother called me to say that she had thought about how important it was that the series made same-sex relationships work, yes, imperceptibly, and how effective she reckons it will be. for older generations.

“It’s normalizing. It’s a safe way for these conversations to happen,” she said, “it’s not confrontational, and I think that might be what some people need.” When I reached my house, we were deep in a debate about the reasons why male bisexuality was still so much less accepted in Western cultures, and how genderqueer relationships fit into this whole conversation.

And it was not just my mom and dad I was discussing these things with. In the five weeks that have passed since the show aired, I must have talked about being bisexual more than at any other period of my life, and I realized the other day that I do not think twice about calling myself queer on Twitter further.

These are small gains, but they are important.

Darvid Garayeli and Jamie-Lee Dayz - the last two contestants to fight for Brooke Blurton's heart.  (Spoiler alert: Darvid won.)
Darvid Garayeli and Jamie-Lee Dayz – the last two contestants to fight for Brooke Blurton’s heart. (Spoiler alert: Darvid won.) Photo: Network 10

It is not to say that this season was not without significant problems, including many people who accused the show of only showing representation at the surface level. Participant Ritu Chhina spoke publicly after her time on the show about feeling tokenized as a queer woman of color, and many viewers were frustrated that the producers seemed totally uninterested in highlighting any of the suitor Taje Fowler’s personality or story beyond, that she told the cameras that she is a proud First Nations woman. (Although Fowler, for his part, has spoken positively about his time in the mansion in interviews after leaving the show.)

There is also plenty to say about the lack of non-binary representation in a show that constantly explains how groundbreaking it is, and the strange commercialization of queer romance with constant free product placement.

In the end, yes, The Bachelorette could have done better, but Australia should have done better too. I’m just glad that if we are drawn kicking and screaming into the 21st century, we have at least some beautiful prom dresses and fun memes to keep us company on our travels.

We also all got to tease Blurton online for apparently having a foot fetish, so I think that was pretty funny too.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *