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“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.So, a new version of shows elements of queer culture that are rarely seen on television.It also goes beyond the normal dating-show formula, one that’s rife with overblown displays of both masculinity and femininity — like women in sparkling ball gowns and hypermasculine Prince Charmings.“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.Basit Shittu, one of the season’s most memorable cast members and hands-down its best drag performer, identifies as gender-fluid, and says they didn’t see people like them on TV when they were growing up.

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.It’s part of the reason, in one early episode, Wes asks his love interest Jenna Brown to accompany him while he injects himself with a dose of testosterone as part of his transition.Wes admits that it’s hard to watch certain parts of the show, especially the scenes where his affections (or lack thereof) spawn love triangles and fuel fights.“And you see bisexual men, who you hardly ever see on TV.” Lindemann also notes that the cast members simply seem to be to each other this go-round — less petty and jealous, more communicative than on most other dating shows.It’s something La Plante witnessed early on when casting the show.

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