"I feel proud of myself," Demi Burnett tells PEOPLE of being Bachelor Nation's first openly queer members

By Dana Rose Falcone
August 26, 2019 03:12 PM

Demi Burnett has made Bachelor Nation history as the franchise’s first openly queer contestant. She entered season 6 of Bachelor in Paradise hoping to figure out whether her heart lies with Kristian Haggerty, a woman she was seeing back home in Los Angeles, or someone on the show.

On last week’s episode, Burnett, 24, realized that she did have feelings for Haggerty, and thus broke off her Paradise relationship with Derek Peth. Host Chris Harrison then brought Haggerty to Mexico, and she and Burnett happily reunited on the beach.

“It has been hard to watch at times because I remember being back in all of those emotions,” Burnett tells PEOPLE. “But ultimately, I feel proud of myself.”

Demi Burnett and Kristian Haggerty.
Demi Burnett/Instagram

It turns out that while Haggerty, 27, had never previously appeared on any Bachelor shows, she does have a connection to the franchise. Back home, commercial and music video producer Haggerty lives with Catherine Agro, who competed on Colton Underwood’s season of The Bachelor.

“I was just hanging out with Catherine at her house and I met Kristian,” Burnett says.

RELATED VIDEO: Bachelor in Paradise‘s Demi Burnett Claps Back at Tanner Tolbert for Comparing Her to Jed Wyatt

Burnett’s relationship with Haggerty isn’t the first time she’s been with a woman.

“I had been with women before,” Burnett says. “I started experimenting a little bit my freshman year of college, and now I’m okay with vocalizing that that’s a part of me.”

While Haggerty staying in Paradise is a Bachelor Nation first, the relationship will be treated no different than the others.

“The reunion of Kristian and I was very much magical, but it’s not going to be all puppies and rainbows from here out,” Burnett says. “We have a real relationship and it’s real people stuff, so there will be lots of tears.”

As for how the rose ceremonies will work for the couple going forward, “We’re just like anyone else there,” Burnett says. “We’re going to take turns handing out roses each week.”

Bachelor in Paradise airs Mondays and Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.

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