Every summer for the past six years, former Bachelor and Bachelorette contestants take to a Mexican beach to try to once more find love, with the end of each season usually ending in one or more marriage proposals. This time around, per NBC News, a "history-making proposal" made its way onto the show: Demi Burnett proposed to girlfriend Kristian Haggerty, making it the first same-sex engagement in the franchise's 17-year stretch. Haggerty's inclusion on the show was also unique because she's never been on any past Bachelor programs—producers brought her on midway through this season of Paradise after Burnett, who identifies as sexually fluid, revealed she'd been seeing Haggerty back home and wanted to explore their relationship more; usually once it's revealed a contestant has a back-home beau, they're booted.
"Bachelor in Paradise's' inclusion of Demi Burnett's coming out story and her journey to accepting her queer identity is groundbreaking for the series," a GLAAD rep says. TV critic reaction has been mixed. Writing for the New York Times, Maya Salam says the move "was handled with nuance and authenticity." But at Jezebel, Maria Sherman writes the engagement came across as "particularly dehumanizing," and that producers bent the usual rules of the show just so they could "film a queer love story" that was already taking place off-camera. "Make an all-queer The Bachelor or The Bachelorette, do like Are You the One? [an MTV show featuring sexually fluid contestants], or get out of here!" Sherman writes. Any criticism that might be coming in hasn't seemed to dampen Burnett and Haggerty's love: At this week's reunion show, they confirmed they're still set to marry. (Read more The Bachelor stories.)