Coming out as queer in your twenties is tough. I should know. Once those traditional gender dynamics are finally broken down, you then suffer through a growth period of learning what it’s like to date the same sex. It's rare to see that time navigated in pop-culture, let alone on a reality show, but we actually got to see it play out on last night’s episode of Bachelor in Paradise.
It all started when Demi Burnett broke down crying on-camera over her struggles to show PDA with her girlfriend, Kristian Haggerty. "I'm getting there," Burnett says of showing public affection with Haggerty. "I'm getting comfortable with it, but it's taking me some time, and like, I feel so guilty because I feel bad for it taking time." Earlier in the season, Burnett came out as queer on the show and invited the woman she fell in love with back home, Haggerty, to join her in paradise. Since then, the couple have become Bachelor Nation's first same-sex couple featured on the show.
But, of course, any sort of "first" is ripe with teaching moments. Last night, Burnett expressed that she's having some growing pains with her queerness. For one: She said she's worried about Haggerty flirting with other women on the show. "Kristian is just flirty with girls, and it sucks,” Burnett says on-camera. “I hate seeing it! I feel like she's more interested in them than me. It's just getting to me. Like, I can't... I can't watch it. I don't want to see that.”
But as Burnett unpacks the issue in her confessional interview, we uncover the real reason her girlfriend's behavior was bothering her. "I don't know if maybe she's lacking physical touch from me, and so she's going to get it from somewhere else, but I don't think that that's fair," Burnett says. "It has everything to do with me not being comfortable with being gay around people."
That’s when she breaks down. "I want to give her what she needs, but like, I'm still uncomfortable with it, because I don't want people to be like, 'That's weird.' And I don't want people to like, stare and be like, 'Oh my god, they're kissing.'"
I can relate: It was extremely hard for me to show PDA with my first girlfriend for fear of garnering stares, or worse, violence. Even if you have a supportive family and friends—like Burnett does—that doesn’t mean you don’t see what’s going on in the world, or understand that not everyone may not be as accepting. Coming out, dating your first same-sex partner, adjusting—it's all a necessary growth period. Doing that anywhere is brave. Doing it on national television? Brave as hell.
Jill Gutowitz is a writer and comedian living in Los Angeles. Follow her on Twitter @jillboard.
Originally Appeared on Glamour