For years The Bachelorette has been dominated with a straight, white narrative.
In 2021 the program is shaking it up.
Brooke Blurton is stepping forward as the first lead bisexual contestant and also a proud First Nations woman.
She sat down to talk with Michael James about visibility and representation on the program.
Brooke on The Bachelorette: “There was a point where I felt a lot of pressure”
Hailing from Western Australia Brooke Blurton is a proud Noongar-Yamatji woman.
Since appearing on her first season of The Bachelor she has also been known as a proud bisexual woman.
When approached to appear as The Bachelorette in 2021, it was a lot to consider.
Appearing on the show meant representing both her First Nations community and the bisexual community.
“There was a point where I felt a lot of pressure. A lot of that pressure came from making both those communities proud.”
This is Brookes’s third appearance on the program, so she knew she had to be sure the program would handle her story properly.
“At the start, I definitely had concerns about how reality TV emphasizes the drama and the tokensim” she says honestly.
“I was really worried about this happening so I voiced my concerns and it felt like this year there has been a shift in The Bachelor franchise. I felt like I was heard, they changed a lot of things and they included a lot of things. So it could allow me just to be myself really.”
Brooke is confident that things really did change this year. Behind the scenes, there was a lot of effort to make sure she and the contestants were supported and guided.
It’s a far cry from what we’ve come to expect from reality TV producers and a refreshing change.
“This year we got a First Nations consultant on board. A lot of things have shifted since previous seasons. With having someone who identifies as queer or bisexual or whoever it could be, it might not have been me. I feel like they’ve definitely taken a lot of care into what this means for me. So they grabbed an inclusive consultant, to make sure that all staff were equipped with the right language around pronouns and inclusivity. So that I felt like I was in a safe space to be myself and not have to educate everyone and to pull people up on different languages. I had a First Nations consultant as well who was obviously covering my cultural space, making sure that I’m culturally safe and that I’m not being tokenized.”
They really looked after me on The Bachelorette
Whilst Brooke admits that producers on previous series may not have been as supported as she would like, this time it’s definitely different.
“I feel like they’ve definitely taken a huge step in the right direction. They really wanted to do me some justice.”
“In previous seasons not a lot of production and crew really looked after me in some sense. But I felt really looked after in being the lead. I think all things and experiences in your life lead you to somewhere and in some part, I felt like this door was always going to open. It was whether I was in the right time and frame of mind to do so.”
Taking on this role was a big step for Brooke, something she had to be sure she was ready for.
“At first I had my doubts about whether Australia was ready but then I kind of said stuff it, I’m ready. I don’t really care.”
“Why am I doubting where everyone else is at? I don’t really need to make sure that everyone else is inclusive, I’m like let’s just get it rolling, let’s do it.”
A new dynamic on The Bachelorette
With half the suitors this year being male and female it was always going to mean the program would look and feel a little different.
“I feel like the difference with having the males and the females is just a different dynamic in connections. Obviously with myself but also with one another.”
Rather than one big house together, even living conditions were different than usual.
“They live separately, logistically they don’t live in the same households so they have their privacy. Then they come together for group dates, cocktail parties, and interactions” she says.
But it’s not just the living conditions that are different. Brooke emphasizes there is less focus on the drama and more on connections this year.
“I think a lot of people are really emphasizing on the drama and everything but I feel like they’ll be really surprised. There will be some, but not as much as previous years.”
What can we expect to see?
“I think the first five minutes of it people will really love. I think the first ten minutes will set the standard of what we can expect this year.”
Will we see a gay Bachelor in the future?
There’s been plenty of talk over the years of a gay version of The Bachelor.
Brooke Blurton and her journey are certainly a fantastic new direction for the franchise and for reality TV.
So what does Brooke think about a potential gay Bachelor in the future?
Bisexual contestant Liam from Married At First Sight last year had a less than pleasant experience.
Will we see a change in the future?
“I really look forward to it” she says with confidence.
“I think it will happen in time. Once people get over themselves in some sense and kind of grow up. I think people, a lot of the people, just don’t know how to approach the conversations about any kind of sexuality. It’s so fluid and it’s so different and I think people don’t know how to have conversations about it.”
But it’s something Brooke is passionate about. It’s very clear she is not just a person out for her 15 minutes of fame. There’s a strong understanding that she is paving the way new wave of visibility and inclusion on televison.
“My friend said something the other day about allyship” she says seriously.
“We’re all one community. We’re all one country. But we’re all human.”
“We’re all so different in our individual ways. But we were having that conversation and it kind of struck a nerve in my heart. Because it was kind of like, why is it taking so long to do this?”
“I spend a lot of time in community, in aboriginal community. Plus I spend a lot of time in the queer community and I don’t see any difference to the heteronormative, I don’t see any difference.”
“Once people realize these are just normal people who want to find love whether they are gay, bisexual whatever, we want to see it, we live to see it.”
We can’t wait to see who Brooke finds love with on these season.
The Bachelorette airs on Channel Ten and Ten Play.
You can watch the full interview with Michael James and Brooke Blurton below.
For the latest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ) news in Australia, visit qnews.com.au. Check out our latest magazines or find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.