Don’t Hold Your Breath For A Gay Or Lesbian On “The Bachelor,” Says Chris Harrison

After 27 seasons of almost painful heterosexuality, we were not optimistic that either “The Bachelor” or “The Bachelorette” would introduce a gay or lesbian contestant. I mean, it took them this long to finally have a Latino “Bachelor.” And in an interview this weekend with The New York Times Magazine, longtime host Chris Harrison pretty much confirmed that any diversity in the casting department is a big HELL TO THE NO. 

Interviewer Taffy Brodesser-Akner plied Chris Harrison with questions about booze and then turned to bigoted comments that Juan Pablo Galavis recently made after he was asked about the possibility of an openly gay Bachelor (“I don’t think it’s a good example for kids to watch that on TV,” etc.). In his characteristically boneheaded way, Galavis continued to say that even though he has “a lot of friends like that,” they are “more pervert [sic] in a sense.” He later apologized for his remarks. Brodesser-Akner asked Chris Harrison about this controversy directly and I guess you could say Chris gave a candid response:

Back to Juan Pablo. He made comments deriding homosexuality and saying there should not be a gay Bachelor. What do you think?

The question is: Is it a good business decision? I just spoke at U.S.C. the other night, and I explained it like this: Look, if you’ve been making pizzas for 12 years and you’ve made millions of dollars and everybody loves your pizzas and someone comes and says, “Hey, you should make hamburgers.” Why? I have a great business model, and I don’t know if hamburgers are going to sell.

People are asking because they would like to see themselves represented.

They do, and that, to me, is a different topic. Is our job to break barriers, or is it a business? That’s not for me to answer. If you want to talk about that with me on a philosophical level, I’m happy to: I am 100 percent for equality and gay marriage.

Look, I understand what he’s saying about how casting for a reality show is ultimately a business decision. It isn’t their job to “break barriers”; it’s to make piles of dough for ABC. That’s the cold-hearted truth. But I still think Chris Harrison’s answer is factually wrong as well as morally wrong. Gay marriage is legal in 17 states, plus Washington, D.C. (Several other states have legalized same-sex civil unions or domestic partnerships.) According to Gallup polls, support for legalized same-sex marriage is only on the rise: most recently, it is supported by 54 percent of those polled. There would actually be a hugeaudience for a reality show that showed a gay or lesbian finding love simply because it would be the first time that “The Bachelor” or “The Bachelorette” did it. Personally, I think  the new premise would be far more entertaining — because let’s be honest, the current shows are so predictable and I can and do fastforward though parts of episodes without missing much. The newness would bring in viewers for that reason alone.

But I also think viewers would watch to be supportive of a meaningful — albeit cheesy — change in our pop culture. “The Bachelor” and “The Bachelorette” are famous worldwide as pop cultural institutions. For a lot of us, gay and lesbian dating is just something our friends and family do. Whether Juan Pablo ends up with Nick or Nikki/Clare or Clarence doesn’t matter.

ABC apparently doesn’t agree that Americans can handle hamburgers after 12 straight years of pizza. And don’t even get me started on how the show hasn’t had a Black “Bachelor” or “Bachelorette.” It’s their loss for not getting that breaking barriers can be a good business decision.

[New York Times Magazine]
[Freedom To Marry: States]
[Gallup Polls: Gay & Lesbian Marriage]
[Hollywood Reporter]

[Image via WENN]

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