The Bachelorette Australia

OPINION: Why queer Australians really want Brooke Blurton’s groundbreaking season of The Bachelorette to work

This could pave the way for a whole new era of TV.

By Maddison Leach
The Bachelorette is set for a major shakeup this year as Brooke Blurton steps into the role as the show's first Indigenous and openly queer leading lady.
Plenty of Australians, especially those who identify as part of the LGBTQIA+ community, are thrilled and can't wait to see her date both men and women on the show.
Unfortunately, there's also a significant number of viewers who are vehemently against Brooke leading the show.
Just take one look at the comments on The Bachelorette's official Instagram page and you'll see what I'm talking about.
Brooke Blurton steps into the role as the show's first Indigenous and openly queer leading lady. (Ten)
"Morally wrong, especially for kids," one comment read, another calling Brooke's casting "sick".
"This should be aired late at night, let's not confuse the young ones," wrote a third, while yet another person accused Brooke of being "confused in the head" and "messed up".
One person even wrote on Facebook: "How insulting to those very true Gays. This is just sensationalism. This show is just a disgrace."
Not only is Brooke being labelled as "sick" for not being straight, she's also being called a "disgrace" for not being a "true gay" (why these comments aren't being removed by the show's social media team is another question).
Either way, Brooke can't win, and neither can millions of other Australians who identify as bisexual, queer or LGBTQIA+.
And that's precisely why so many queer Aussies, myself included, are desperate for Brooke's season of The Bachelorette to do well.
As a queer woman myself, I would love nothing more than for this groundbreaking season to smash the ratings, make headlines and continue to infuriate homophobes around the country.
Because it's 2021 – almost 2022 – and Australia should be so far past this kind of queerphobia by now.
Same-sex marriage was legalised in Australia in 2017, Sydney's Mardi Gras has been one of the world's biggest pride events for decades, yet a section of the national population still want to act like there's something wrong or shameful about being queer.
They call us "confused', "sick" and "morally wrong", they demand we hide our true selves from their children or from society at large.
In some cases, they verbally harass us, sexually abuse us, or violently assault us for simply existing as our authentic selves.
And while Brooke Blurton having a successful season as The Bachelorette probably won't change much of that, it could be a step forward if the show is done well.
By presenting Brooke's sexuality and her decision to date men and women not as "sensational" or "shameful", but as a totally normal and valid expression of her sexual identity, the show could help foster a new sense of acceptance for queer people in Australia.
Brooke herself has touched on the topic, telling TV WEEK: "While it's a huge shift to bring my sexuality front and centre, I don't think it's the only thing that defines who I am.
"There are other aspects of me that are important too. I hope that people see the positive portrayal, but don't just chuck me into a box."
No one is asking for a reality TV dating show to revolutionise LGBTQIA+ acceptance in the country, but there's no denying that this is a chance for change.
When Brooke was first approached to be the leading lady, was "absolutely petrified". (Ten)
A chance for queer people to be represented as valid, multifaceted individuals who are just as worthy of love, respect and primetime TV slots as their heterosexual counterparts.
A chance for Australians to be reminded that a person's sexuality has zero bearing on their morality, that it doesn't completely define them as a person.
A chance for TV networks to see that yes, queer people do deserve a seat at the table and a voice on their shows (queer Love Island, anyone?).
Ultimately, Brooke's season of The Bachelorette is a chance to show everyone watching that being queer isn't wrong, or shameful or abnormal – it's just another way of being.
And that yes, it makes great TV, so start greenlighting all the queer shows we've been begging for for years now,

As we gear up for the premiere of The Bachelorette 2021, I'm hoping for a season that will showcase Brooke's experience as a bisexual woman without fetishising or sensationalising it.
"I've been so open and honest about most things in my life, so I wanted my story to not be manipulated or changed in any way," Brooke said of the season.
I'm hoping for a show that lets her be her authentic self, without using her sexuality for shock value.
Because if the show can do that, it could pave the way for a huge shift when it comes to the representation of queer people on Australian TV.
And with 2022 fast approaching, I think that shift is well overdue.

For more on Brooke’s groundbreaking season of The Bachelorette, check out these stories