"Bachelor" couple makes history with franchise's first LGBTQ proposal

By Sophie Lewis

/ CBS News

Demi Burnett and Kristian Haggerty just made "Bachelor" history. Both women proposed to each other during the "Bachelor in Paradise" season finale Tuesday night, marking the show's first LGBTQ engagement.

As the first same-sex romance featured in the long-running franchise's history, the duo were trailblazers throughout this season of "Paradise," which is a spinoff of "The Bachelor" and "The Bachelorette." The show prominently featured their relationship, along with Burnett's struggles with understanding her sexuality.

"There was a lot of things that came between us, mostly myself and my own struggles," Burnett told Haggerty during the proposal in Mexico. "Like you said, I came here to find myself. But I found myself in you."

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My forever ❤️ #bachelorinparadise

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Burnett, who first appeared on Season 23 of "The Bachelor," started dating fellow "Paradise" contestant Derek Peth early on in the season. The two were immediately close, but Burnett soon revealed to Peth that she had been casually dating Haggerty, who had never been involved in the franchise, prior to the start of filming.

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Burnett grappled with her feelings for both Peth and Haggerty for several episodes before Haggerty went to Mexico, where the show is filmed, to surprise her. They rekindled their love and pursued a relationship for the remainder of the season.

Throughout the season, Burnett struggled through her coming out journey, opening up about her anxiety and learning to accept her LGBTQ identity. Peth and the rest of the contestants were supportive, encouraging Burnett to take the time she needed to figure herself out.

"You couldn't find a better forever, D!" Peth wrote on Instagram following the finale. "Endlessly happy for you!"

The couple confirmed during the reunion special Tuesday night that they are still happily engaged. "I know that last day in 'Paradise' was the best day of my life, and I wouldn't want to do this life with anyone else but you," Haggerty said, giving Burnett a ring of her own.

Demi and Kristian Get Engaged – Bachelor in Paradise by Bachelor Nation on ABC on YouTube

The ABC reality show has been criticized in the past for its lack of diversity. Prominently featuring an openly queer couple and documenting Burnett's coming out journey appears to mark a turning point for the franchise.

"Seeing two women get engaged on Bachelor in Paradise is a groundbreaking step forward towards including LGBTQ couples across reality television," said Sarah Kate Ellis, president and CEO of GLAAD. "Reality TV is finally moving towards storylines that LGBTQ audiences and allies have been craving for quite some time."

The show still faces diversity issues when it comes to casting people of color, a long-running complaint of fans of the series. There has never been a black bachelor and there has only been one black bachelorette, Rachel Lindsay, in 2017. The show announced Tuesday that Peter Weber, a white contestant from Hannah Brown's season of "The Bachelorette," would be the lead next season, despite eager fans demanding Mike Johnson be cast as the show's first black bachelor.

Burnett and Haggerty were the first same-sex couple to be featured on any U.S. version of the show. However, on the Australian version of "The Bachelor," 2016 contestants Tiffany Scanlon and Megan Marx were hoping to find love with the male lead, but left the show after falling in love with each other.

First published on September 18, 2019 / 4:19 PM

© 2019 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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