Warning: Spoilers ahead for Netflix’s Love Is Blind.
Netflix’s new reality series, Love Is Blind, is the perfect shut-your-brain-off reality dating show. Contestants are placed in “pods” where they “date” and propose to other single folks without ever seeing each other. Then, with a wedding date fast approaching, the couples meet IRL and find out if their relationship can make it in the real world.
The show is (mostly) fun and games until Carlton, 34, and Diamond, 28, have a heartbreaking blowout over his sexuality, ending their engagement. In the first episode, Carlton reveals in a one-on-one with the camera: “My biggest dream is that I finally find a wife who will love me unconditionally… but I have a big secret.” The secret? He’s dated men and women in the past. He says he’s been rejected by women because of his sexuality, which is why he decides to wait to tell Diamond until after she accepts his wedding proposal.
Carlton finally opens up about his sexuality while the two are together in Mexico…and it leads to a big fight. Diamond feels like he wasn’t being honest. Carlton believes that if he told tell her about his sexuality from the beginning, she wouldn’t have given him a chance. He verbally attacks her, calling her a “bitch,” and Diamond walks off.
The scene was devastating—and as a bisexual guy, I found it especially so. First, a quick disclaimer: Reality TV is obviously edited for maximum drama, so there are probably portions of the conversation we didn’t see. I’m also not personally acquainted with either of these individuals. But this is how I felt watching the scene that ended up airing.
I write as someone who had an advice column at Bisexual.org for 18 months, where I fielded dozens of questions about bisexuality. I’ve also had women who like me say, “Oh, I don’t fuck with dudes who suck dick” after I came out as bi to them. I’ve had women ghost me after I reveal I’m bisexual. I even had a woman call me a “faggot.” So I am familiar with rejection, particularly from women, for revealing my (bi)sexuality.
I say this to express that Carlton’s fears are based in reality. Even though he says in the final fight that his sexuality has “never been an issue with girls,” it contradicts what he was saying in the rest of the series. In fact, his past rejections are exactly why he claims to have waited to tell Diamond. He wanted Diamond to get to know him first, instead of dismissing him right off the bat.
Carlton’s dilemma—When should I tell my partner I’m bi?—is a common one among fluid men.
There’s no “correct” answer, and I think it depends on the person and situation. If you’re in a metropolitan city like New York, where people tend to be more open-minded, I usually recommend telling partners from the get-go (or prominently displaying it on your dating profile). Yes, you might get more rejections, but at least you’ll find partners who like you for you. If you live in a smaller, less open-minded place, you might want to wait for your partner to get to know you first. No matter what the scenario, it’s hard to put your wonderful self out there, only to be rejected because of your sexuality.
Nevertheless, I can say with certainty: It is not a good time to reveal your sexual orientation after you get engaged. That should definitely be a conversation you have beforehand. But I get it: Carlton was nervous. And on TV. And maybe is still struggling to fully accept his sexuality. For one, he never throws out a specific label, like “bisexual” or “pansexual,” instead referring to himself as “someone like me” on multiple occasions. And when it comes time to open up to Diamond, his response is to be an asshole instead of being vulnerable. Then, when Diamond is reacting really well to the news—simply asking for time, and wanting some things to be clarified—Carlton goes on the defensive.
And then things get messy. Cue the insults about people’s wigs.
Diamond feels lied to, because she was. You can call it an omission of truth, but I think Carlton lied to her. As I made clear, I don’t necessarily believe you need to tell someone on the first date, but you should let the person know before you say “I love you” and freakin’ propose! (And I do believe, the sooner the better!)
At the end of the day, Carlton and Diamond’s Love Is Blind story was heartbreaking. It simply goes to show how much pain internalized biphobia can cause, and how difficult it can be for bi men to date and love because they’d been rejected in the past for fundamental aspects of their identity.
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