Finally, after nearly 20 years and hundreds of heterosexual relationships, Bachelor Nation has its first same sex relationship.
On last week’s episode of Bachelor in Paradise, Demi Burnett reunited with Kristian Haggerty, the woman she had been casually seeing before she left for Mexico, and they quickly threw the casual aspect out the window.
Kristian’s presence on the show somewhat breaks Paradise’s “rules,” but as Chris Harrison has said and as Demi reminds us, there aren’t really any rules when it comes to Bachelor in Paradise.
E! News sat down with Demi to talk about her love story, which she says began with the knowledge that she was heading to Paradise. Kristian had been roommates with Demi’s fellow Bachelor contestant Catherine Agro, which is how the the two women met, and which meant that Kristian wasn’t totally foreign to the world of Bachelor Nation, and knew what a trip to Paradise meant.
Check out our interview with Demi below!
E! News: What has the reaction been like since the episode aired? Were you ready for it?
Demi Burnett: The reaction has been crazy. It’s been so good. So much positivity. The haters get drowned out—I wasn’t expecting it. And I think I was ready or it. I was nervous about it, just because I didn’t know how it was going to look, you know, all the fear of people judging you based off of who you choose to love still was lingering, but it’s liberating now that it’s out there, and everyone’s supporting me.
It feels like the franchise has been ready for something like this for a long time, but they had to break the rules a little bit to make it happen, since Kristian’s not in the franchise. Was there any hesitation in that respect?
I think there’s been times where they brought people who weren’t from the franchise on, like they brought on Ashley [Iaconetti]’s sister, and on Bachelor Pad, they brought the fans, so I think there aren’t really any rules.
Did you have much of a conversation with Chris Harrison about bringing this relationship onto the show?
I don’t know whose idea it was to bring her on the show, [but] I’m just grateful that he cared about my happiness, and me getting to explore our relationship enough to bring her there.
What was that moment like when you saw that she was coming onto the beach?
It was a crazy moment. I’d never felt something like that in my whole body. I thought I was leaving. I was ready to leave, so whenever I saw her, it was just a beautiful moment, and I was really impressed by how they captured it.
Was there any conversation with her about deciding to stay, or to go back with her?
Yeah, I asked her if she wanted to stay, because I love Paradise. It’s where you can really explore a relationship. I know that it wasn’t really her jam. She never wanted to be on TV, but she was willing to do it for me.
Did you prepare her for what Paradise was about to be like?
I know that she could handle any situation she’s thrown in. She’s like, really strong. And she gets along well with anybody, so I knew she was going to be OK.
Was there hesitation for you to even go on Bachelor in Paradise since you had something else going on beforehand?
I had already planned on going to Paradise before me and her started having something, so I was always open that I was going to do this, so we kept our relationship very surface-level and very open, non-exclusive. We were just two humans enjoying each other’s company.
So when you were in Paradise, how difficult was that, especially going into something with Derek so quickly?
It was hard, just because I was juggling all the emotions, and I was confused. And I couldn’t really sort them out considering the person that was on my mind wasn’t there. And yeah, it was hard. It was emotional.
People dating someone else before the show has always been a thing with this franchise, and was a very big problem with Jed Wyatt this season of The Bachelorette. And there were some unfair comparisons to that that were made, so was there worry that people were going to judge you in that way?
Yeah, there was fear of that judgment, but I just made sure to always be open and honest and tell everyone what was going on, and then I wouldn’t have to feel guilty, like I was hiding something from someone. So I just focused on my communication, even whenever it was difficult. So I was proud of that.
Can you talk about what we’re going to see as you guys explore your relationship?
Yeah, it’s definitely not going to be a perfect happy couple that’s reunited. We’re going to go through real-life relationship stuff, and there’s going to be a lot of tears.
It definitely seemed like there were some fears both of you were expressing in the episode the other night.
Yeah, just because we had never been committed to each other like this, and we never had tough conversations just because we didn’t get that deep before Paradise.
So is that kind of crazy to be doing that for the first time on camera?
Oh my gosh, yes. It was terrifying to be so vulnerable all the time on camera.
So how did you work through that? How did you make sure that you guys could handle that extra pressure?
I honestly just took it as it came at me and processed through it right then and there. And the most important thing that I wanted to focus on was the relationship and the communication that I was having with Kristian, so I had to prioritize that over all the other things going on in my head.
Do you have any advice for anyone else who might be going through the same thing that you were going through, struggling to decide to come out, especially on camera, especially on national television? I feel like you can’t be the only person who wants to be a part of this franchise who’s going through this.
Yeah, I think there’s probably a lot of people struggling with what I was struggling with, and I think I just wanted to…the best thing that could have come out of this was me showing that it’s OK to be yourself and to live your truth. So I would say yeah, be yourself, and it’s OK.”
Demi couldn’t say much about how her time in Paradise ends, so we’ll all just have to tune in on Mondays and Tuesdays at 8 p.m. on ABC.