Love is blind. The premise is (sort of?) clear: take 30 men and women hoping to find love and have them sit in separate pods where they can talk to each other, but not see each other. The show professes that in an age where looks and one’s online presence is the driving force behind relationships, our emotionality is being sacrificed. So, the show is designed to be a sort of experiment to test if couples can find true love solely through their ability to communicate their feelings.
Upon watching this addicting show and hating myself slightly for it, I came across something that sort of irked me. The contestant Carlton Morton came out as bisexual early on in the season to viewers but kept this part of himself hidden to the other contestants, including his fiancé Diamond Jack who he proposed to just weeks after meeting! I know, absurd. After going to Mexico to stay at a luxurious hotel, tension between the couple intensifies as they newly exist with one another face-to-face. Carlton confesses to the viewer how nervous he is about opening up.
At the pool, Diamond says that she knows Carlton and that something is up with him. Carlton then expresses how he is afraid of being abandoned and rejected for his past. He opens up about dating both genders, sobbing uncontrollably in front of a partner who is in complete disbelief and expressionless. Diamond asks: “Do you ever feel like you need to go date another man?” To which, Carlton replies that that is “the biggest misconception in the world” and that “he loves people for who they are”. He turns away from Diamond as the camera pans, showing her newly wedded hand stroking his back. Ironically, the emotional distance is strikingly vast. Carlton knows he has been rejected once again.
Watching this heart-wrenching scene made me think about how queerness is responded to in heterosexual relationships. I don’t think I am alone in saying that women who open up to their male partners about having experimented with other women are met with a lot less scrutiny. Because of the over-sexualization of lesbian relationships in the media, it is not out of the norm for people to think of physical intimacy between women to be “hot”. I have personally witnessed many girls *who are known to be platonic friends* kiss at parties to which other men responded with intrigue and utter captivation. It’s hard to say whether these instances stem from the desire to gain attention or are rooted in pure curiosity, but it doesn’t really matter. The girl can go back to hooking up with other men as if nothing happened. If anything, she is praised for her spontaneity and fun-loving nature. However, if this situation was reversed, it would be a lot different.
Males who have experimented with other men are essentially castrated in the eyes of most straight women. Their masculinity is gone with the wind. Whereas, for a woman, her action does not make her sacrifice her femininity (if anything the hypersexualization of this act makes her appear more feminine and may even make her be perceived as a more attractive partner). Because of the inherent difference in these situations, you have a society in which women feel more free experimenting sexually while men feel extremely apprehensive in risking the perception of their identity by just one act. This is why you have so many “straight guys” on gay dating apps who are “discreet” and “DL”. Because of how people like Diamond react to men who open up about their pasts – with “eyes that are so blank” – men who grapple with their sexuality often are afraid to express themselves authentically, opting for a blank profile instead.
That being said, even though it may be especially difficult to come out as a man in a heterosexual relationship, it’s probably best to do so before you get engaged to someone…