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TravelGuides – Brooke Blurton’s Bachelorette Australia changed the conversation – and I’ve never talked more about being bisexual | Australian television

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TravelGuides – Brooke Blurton’s Bachelorette Australia changed the conversation – and I’ve never talked more about being bisexual | Australian television

Two times a week for the past five weeks, I’ve called up my parents at 7.30pm and spent an hour and a half talking about bisexuality and the need for greater education around Indigenous culture in Australia.

The first is deeply personal to me, and something which, due to my own internalised prejudices, I worried I would never be able to talk about casually, even with my extremely progressive mum and dad. The second is something that was discussed in our household growing up, but looking back (despite best intentions) we only scraped the surface.

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

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(Also, yes I know it’s dorky to watch The Bachelorette with your parents on speakerphone, but hey, we just went through a pandemic, cut me some slack.)

Having Brooke Blurton, a bisexual Noongar-Yamatji woman, helm this season of The Bachelorette shouldn’t have been as groundbreaking as it was, but I don’t think we can underestimate the impact that a mainstream, primetime, family-friendly TV show bringing these topics into living rooms all around 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: “Whose land are you living on?” When neither could answer, audiences around the country cringed, collectively paused, and then got out their phones to google.

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Twitter was filled with tweets of people saying their friends were texting asking whose country they were on, and my next half hour was dominated by discussions with my parents about how invisible the true history of Australia really is in our daily lives.

When Thunig pushed further, asking the contestants to name the mob that Blurton belonged to, it occurred to me that embarrassingly, I had never actively gone out of my way to learn that about the Indigenous people in my life.

Again, I know how excruciatingly basic this is but, I guess as the old proverb 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 I would never have thought possible in a franchise like The Bachelor.

You had Brooke and (then frontrunner) Holly sitting on the classic love couch, talking about the complex and painful experience of invisible bisexuality.

In the very next episode, we saw fan favourite Konrad talking about freeing himself from the constraints of toxic masculinity, a journey that so many important men in my life have gone through as well. Even just the word “bisexual” not being treated like it was embarrassing or passé, felt so freeing.

Blurton’s relationships with men and women on the show were treated nearly identically. Yes, this is the bare minimum, and yet it had an impact.

As I was coming home from work the other day, my mum called me to say she’d been thinking about how important it was that the show was making same-gender relationships seem, well, unremarkable, and how impactful she reckons that will be for older generations.

“It’s normalising. It’s a safe way for those conversations to happen,” she said, “It’s not confronting and I think maybe that’s what some people need.” By the time I reached my house, we were deep into 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 wasn’t just my mum and dad with whom I was discussing these things. In the five weeks since the show aired, I must have spoken about being bisexual more than during any other period of my life, and I realised the other day that I don’t think twice about calling myself queer on Twitter any more.

These are small wins, but they are important ones.

Darvid Garayeli and Jamie-Lee Dayz – the final two contestants vying for Brooke Blurton’s heart. (Spoiler alert: Darvid won.) Photograph: Network 10

That’s not to say this season wasn’t without its considerable problems, including many people accusing the show of displaying only surface-level representation. Contestant Ritu Chhina spoke publicly after her time on the show about feeling tokenised as a queer woman of colour, and plenty of viewers were frustrated that producers seemed totally uninterested in highlighting any of suitor Taje Fowler’s personality or story beyond her telling cameras that she is a proud First Nations woman. (Although Fowler, for her part, has spoken positively about her time in the mansion in interviews after leaving the show.)

There is also plenty to be said about the lack of non-binary representation on a show that’s constantly expounding how groundbreaking it is, and the strange commercialisation of queer romance with constant gratuitous product placement.

Ultimately, yes The Bachelorette could have done better, but also, Australia should have been doing better too. I’m just glad that if we are going to get dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st century, we at least have some gorgeous ball gowns and hilarious memes to keep us company on our travels.

Also, we all got to tease Blurton online for apparently having a foot fetish, so I mean that was pretty fun too.

TravelGuides – Brooke Blurton’s Bachelorette Australia changed the conversation – and I’ve never talked more about being bisexual | Australian television

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