Bachelor in Paradise contestant Demi Burnett made franchise history when she came out as queer on the first episode of Season 6, and she continued to explore her relationship options when her Paradise relationship with Derek Peth deepened. As she eventually came out to some of her castmates on Episode 4, Demi's quotes about her sexuality on Bachelor in Paradise were super empowering.
In the Season 6 premiere, Demi revealed to Bachelor BFF Hannah Brown that she had been dating a woman but was hesitant to label their relationship. "I feel like I don't have to proclaim 'I am gay, I am straight, I'm bisexual,'" she told her. "I like who I like." Although Demi shied away from explaining how serious their bond was, she knew her relationship with the woman was special. Regardless, she went into Paradise with a goal of feeling out her opportunities.
Upon arriving at the beach, Demi clicked with Derek, who was previously engaged to Taylor Nolan after meeting her on Season 4 of Paradise. Demi and Derek's instant connection was still going strong by the time Episode 4 rolled around on Aug. 13. However, there were bigger issues lingering underneath the surface. While Derek sensed there was a "hot or cold" element to their relationship, Demi told cameras, "I have feelings for Derek, but really, in actuality, I'm conflicted about me and Derek ... I just want to exist and love who I love."
While Demi didn't immediately confide in Derek about the truth, she chose to talk with Katie about it instead. "I feel like there's this part of me that nobody knows about," she told her. "I have been dating a woman back home. I do miss her and I think about her all the time, and I am so in with her, but trying to come here and figure out stuff about myself ... I really don't know what I want. I'm always, like, afraid of how people are going to take it."
Demi revealed that before Paradise, she had told her parents she liked boys and girls, and although the conversation went well, recalling it made Demi teary again. "I am tired of being tough Demi ... Demi-god is a shield," she said. "There’s another person in me, there’s layers to me, and I've been embarrassed about them my whole life ... This is about showing that side of me and embracing that side of me."
Katie encouraged her about being honest about herself, but Demi was still struggling with coming clean to Derek, who sensed something was up. "I don't think I can get consistent and clear signals from Demi," Derek said beforehand. "She doesn't want me to feel like there's nothing there but she also doesn't want me to feel like there's something there."
After a chat with Tayshia Adams about Derek and her real-life relationship, Demi realized Derek's acceptance of her true self may help her fall for him even more. "I don't know what being in love feels like, but I think with Derek I could get there," she told cameras. "I don't want to ruin that."
Taking Derek aside at the cocktail party, Demi told him, "I have been casually dating someone, and it's a woman. I've been uncomfortable talking about it because it's scary to talk about that. I always planned on coming here and being open to stuff and I don't want you to think this changes anything between us ... it's important to me to know how you feel about it because it is part of who I am."
Derek was supportive about the news and said he was fine with them taking things slowly as Demi figured out her feelings. "It could not have gone better," Demi told cameras about Derek's reaction. "I feel so relieved. He exceeded my expectations entirely."
"I'm appreciative of the fact that we're very different types of people," Derek told cameras. "It makes me feel closer to her to know more about her."
On top of being a major inspiration for anyone struggling with talking about their sexuality, Demi managed to have extremely positive, empowering conversations with friends about her identity. Fans will have to wait and see how her revelation affects her relationship with Derek, but it looks like she has his support no matter what happens. Here's hoping this opens a new chapter of the Bachelor franchise regarding acceptance and diversity.
Season 6 of Bachelor in Paradise continues at 8 p.m. ET on Monday, Aug. 19, on ABC.