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We’re more open when it comes to how we show love, because we’ve been told for the majority of our life that we should not be proud of who we are.So we celebrate our queerness by being open.” Cast member Kai Wes, a trans-masculine nonbinary person (meaning he identifies more male than female on the gender spectrum), says the show was like going to “queer summer camp.” Aside from the chance to find love, Wes was also drawn in by the idea of making people like himself more visible on television.
elicits thousands of applications, which are whittled down to 80 finalists, who are then flown to L. After working on the show for nearly a decade with his business partner and co-creator, Jeff Spangler, La Plante and the other producers have their process down: Potential cast members are isolated in separate hotel rooms and escorted to interviews to make sure they don’t encounter one another before the cameras are rolling.“So many of these people who we cast had lived in an environment where they were struggling on a day-to-day basis with acceptance,” La Plante said.“And then, on the day before we began filming, all of them suddenly realized that the next day they’d be moving into an environment where everyone there just completely ‘got it.’ I’m so used to the cast members being concerned about being famous or being the star of the season, but this group was just geeking out to be around each other.For the first seven seasons, the show’s cast consisted of 10 heterosexual, cisgendered pairings: 10 men with 10 women.But this season, producers decided to go gender-fluid.“I feel like there’s not anyone like me in the world.” Even as an adult, they say, it’s sometimes been hard to date, because people don’t quite understand how to relate to them when it comes to sex and attraction.
“I wanted to go on this season to prove that I could find love,” they say, and to make people like them more visible in a heteronormative world.
And when they moved in front of the camera, it was magical.
It was something like we’d never seen before.” That magic includes a queer prom re-do where the dress code was anything goes, lots of kissing games, and way more group processing than any dating show you’ve ever seen.
“People [on the show] are introducing themselves with their preferred pronouns.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen that on reality TV before,” says Danielle Lindemann, a sociology professor at Lehigh University who studies and writes about reality TV.
But when I’m dating a girl, it’s this way,’” La Plante says. First we came across three people like that, then there were five, then 10, and it continued to increase.