Brooke Blurton’s season of the Bachelorette raises important questions about biphobia, bi-erasure and queerness in Australia.
I usually roll my eyes when I see the glossy promo’s of a new reality TV dating show. But seeing Noongar-Yamatji woman, Brooke Blurton take the reins as Australia’s first Indigenous and bi/pan sexual Bachelorette… my little bi eyes were wide open!
We’ve been demanding a more diverse, inclusive and authentic representation of young Australian’s on Australian TV and damn did Channel 10 finally deliver. While yes, there’s no denying I’m a little tired of the overproduced formula of a show like the Bachelor, showcasing the strong, confident and gorgeous voice of Brooke Blurton was a viewing experience like no other.
The consultation with First Nation’s people and queer advocates was evident. From the beautiful Welcome to Country that opened the season that left tears dotted in eyes across the country, to the respect and acceptance of queerness among contestants, to conversations about the majority of Australia’s ignorance when it comes to Indigenous issues, this season covered a lot of important issues.
As a bisexual woman, I was equally excited and scared for Brooke. I couldn’t help but think, she’s damned if she chooses a man at the end, and damned if she doesn’t, and many bi women will empathise with.
Many bisexual and pansexual people have experienced biphobia and bi erasure in their lives, and seeing it play out in the media and in the comments section of social media, was a sad reminder and reflection on the long way to go before genuine respect and understanding are built in Australia.
Biphobia is generally born out of harmful stereotypes including ‘being a halfway house’ or ‘being greedy.’ Bi erasure often stems from the insecurities of people, including those within the LGBTQIA+ community. Again, based on harmful stereotypes that ‘it’s a phase,’ or ‘they’re not really queer,’ these messages degrade and undermine the experience of what it means to be bisexual.
It can also mean that people are mislabelled, further erasing their identity as a bi person. I am currently dating a man and people assume that I am straight and in a heterosexual relationship. This heteronormative narrative permeates society, which means I’ve had to come out as bisexual more times than I would have ever thought.
The same thing applied when I dated a woman. It doesn’t inherently mean I’m gay or a lesbian. I’m just Adelaide navigating the tricky world of dating, love, and relationships.
I am deeply passionate about this topic because biphobia and bi erasure can lead to severe outcomes. Bisexual people often experience higher rates of depression and anxiety, along with health disparities.
Bi people often describe not feeling safe or accepted in LGBTQIA+ spaces as they don’t appear ‘queer enough.’ People may talk it down as ‘not as hard, or not as important as “real” LGBTQIA+ issues,’ but this is real issue that affects all bisexual and pansexual people around the world.
It’s about being seen, heard, respected and valued.
Being bisexual doesn’t change who I am because it’s just part of who I am.
Of course, watching this season, I found myself wanting Brooke to end up with Holly, because um hello Holly was an absolute gem! But also because we hadn’t seen it before, it was new, fresh and real which just shows how lacking we have been in getting adequate representation (give us more please!). And as we now know, Darvid won Brooke’s heart and their connection was so beautiful (and damn are they not just the most gorgeous couple?!). Upon reflection, it’s unrealistic to expect that Brooke has to show the world and represent the full complexities of what it means to be bi. Just let the woman love who she wants.
Ultimately, coming out and being your true authentic self means that you feel safe and free to be YOU. You shouldn’t have to be you for anyone else, to prove a point, or make a mark. When we allow and respect bi people to be their true, authentic self, maybe then we will see more inclusivity and diversity on our screens.
Before I wrap up, I wanted to touch on labels. While bisexual is often criticised for being discriminatory against those who are non-binary, gender fluid or transgender, the name emerged during a period of time that gave people a name and label to identify with.
There’s a fabulous episode of The Cut called ‘Why do I feel weird calling myself bisexual?’ which illuminates some of the issues people have with this label.
Pansexual is another label that is used to describe people that are attracted to people not because of their gender, but for who they are. Commentators of Brooke’s season of the Bachelor often used the label bisexual, however was sometimes labeled as pansexual. Some people may feel comfortable switching between the two labels as Brooke told the ABC here.
To wrap up, I’ll leave you with this quote,
“Sexuality is so fluid, like why do we have to define ourselves by the people that we’re attracted to? Or why do we have to label ourselves by people that we’re sleeping with?”
Labels can be freeing and liberating to some, and isolating and restrictive to others. Ultimately, as many things in life, we should let people take the lead and set the tone of how they would like to be referred to.
Thank you Brooke for being such an incredible role model for many young queer people across Australia. I’m in absolute awe.