"I’m exhausted from defending myself against a toxic fandom."
Rachel Lindsay is done giving her roses to Bachelor Nation. In February, the former Bachelorette, who’s called out racism and sexism in the long-running franchise for the past several years, announced she will no longer be involved in the Bachelor universe. Now, in a fiery New York magazine essay published June 21, Lindsay detailed various racist experiences she encountered during her time on the reality show and in the years since that led to this decision.
Ever since first appearing on The Bachelor and The Bachelorette in 2017, Lindsay has taken the franchise to task over its lack of diversity on multiple occasions, but she got more real than ever before in her eye-opening essay. The show’s first Black lead shared behind-the-scenes details about conflicts on her seasons and her disappointment in the franchise’s lack of meaningful growth in the years since. The piece ended with Lindsay declaring, “I’m no longer making myself available to The Bachelor universe.”
In particular, Lindsay called out the show’s “toxic audience” as a primary reason for wanting to step away, while also pointing out the franchise’s complicity in helping such a viewership grow. “The franchise has spent 19 years cultivating a toxic audience. They have constantly given it a product it wants: a midwestern/southern white, blonde, light-eyed Christian,” Lindsay wrote. “Not all viewers are like that. My Higher Learning co-host and I have divided it — there is a Bachelor Nation, and there is a Bachelor Klan. Bachelor Klan is hateful, racist, misogynistic, xenophobic, and homophobic. They are afraid of change. They are afraid to be uncomfortable. They are afraid when they get called out.”
Lindsay’s essay came four months after she temporarily deleted Instagram due to the fandom’s extreme reaction to her Extra interview with host Chris Harrison. In that interview, Harrison defended Bachelor Season 25 contestant Rachael Kirkconnell after photos of the season’s eventual winner attending an Antebellum-themed party in 2018 surfaced online. Days later, Harrison apologized for his comments and stepped away from his hosting duties due to the backlash, and in the weeks prior to Lindsay’s essay, that hiatus became permanent, with Harrison reportedly receiving an eight-figure payout for parting way with the franchise.
Throughout her New York magazine piece, Lindsay spilled some uncomfortable behind-the-scenes details about filming as a contestant on Nick Viall’s season of The Bachelor and as the lead on her season of The Bachelorette. Lindsay recalled filming a scene with her Bachelor rival Vanessa Grimaldi in which Grimaldi accused her of bullying. When Grimaldi began to cry, Lindsay said she quickly realized how the story would spin for viewers. “Immediately, I felt my Blackness was on display,” Lindsay wrote. “I knew the audience was going to look at me as an angry Black female.”
Things were even more tense when Lindsay helmed her own season of the show shortly afterward. She recalled breaking down after hearing a fight between Kenny King and Lee Garrett (a contestant Lindsay didn’t realize had a history of racist tweets until after filming) and realizing there were no Black producers around her to empathize with her struggles as the first Black Bachelorette.
She went on to lay out her issues with the narrative crafted around contestant Peter Kraus during her season. Kraus was a fan-favorite throughout Lindsay’s time on the show, but although he was a finalist, Lindsay called out her issues with him. “He didn’t offer anything other than being a fine physical specimen,” Lindsay wrote of Kraus in her essay. “He fit the prototype of a Bachelor Nation contestant. Because Bachelor Nation applauds mediocrity.” She recalled how in the After the Final Rose special, Kraus turned the tables on her by saying he felt attacked when Lindsay said she was living her best life with her chosen winner, Bryan Abasolo. “He became the victim in that narrative,” Lindsay wrote. “I was sitting there seething. I knew my reputation was over in that moment. All people saw was this devastated white man.”
While Lindsay made it clear she wants a clean break from all things Bachelor, she did say she will continue to be open to advising any past or future contestants and that she will be tuning into Michelle Young’s upcoming season to support the second Black Bachelorette in the show’s history.