With another cohort of attractive people against the backdrop of a picturesque destination, this season of “Bachelor in Paradise” may have started out like any other, but it ended with a history-making proposal.
Demi Burnett and Kristian Haggerty got engaged on the reality dating show’s season six finale, which aired Tuesday night. The two women were the first same-sex couple to do so in the “Bachelor” franchise’s 17-year run.
This isn’t the first time the pair surprised viewers on the show, which is a spinoff of “The Bachelor” and “The Bachelorette” and brings together contestants who didn’t find love on either of those shows for another chance to meet a life partner.
Burnett, an interior designer who first appeared on the 23rd season of “The Bachelor,” was dating a fellow “Bachelor in Paradise” contestant, Derek Peth, earlier in the season, before revealing she had been dating a woman unaffiliated with the franchise prior to filming. Haggerty, an ordained minister, came to Mexico to surprise Burnett, who identifies as sexually fluid, and the two pursued a relationship.
“‘Bachelor in Paradise’s’ inclusion of Demi Burnett’s coming out story and her journey to accepting her queer identity is groundbreaking for the series,” Anthony Ramos, the head of talent at the LGBTQ media advocacy group GLAAD, said in an email to NBC News. “Tens of millions of people around the world watch ’The Bachelor’ and ‘The Bachelorette’ franchises and this move to include a same-sex relationship in an honest fashion has the power to upend preconceived notions of LGBTQ people like Demi who are attracted to more than one gender.”
The historic proposal took place on a beach in Mexico.
“There were a lot of things that came between us, mostly myself and my own struggles,” Burnett told Haggerty during the proposal. “Like you said, I came here to find myself. But I found myself in you.”
Burnett then got down on one knee and asked Haggerty to marry her.
The couple’s engagement marks a major step for the ABC reality show, which has been criticized for its lack of diversity and inclusion, particularly when it comes to casting people of color. There have been no black bachelors to date and only one black bachelorette, Rachel Lindsay, in 2017. Despite an online campaign to make Mike Johnson the first black bachelor, ABC announced on Tuesday night that it had selected Peter Weber, a white man, to lead next season.
At the show’s reunion, which is filmed in studio after the couples return from their destinations and was also part of Tuesday’s finale episode, Burnett and Haggerty confirmed that they’re still happily engaged — and Haggerty took the opportunity to propose to Burnett.
“I know that last day in ‘Paradise’ was the best day of my life, and I wouldn’t want to do this life with anyone but you,” Haggerty said.
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Gwen Aviles writes for NBC News’ Latino, Out, BLK and Asian America verticals.