Christmas is over and that means one thing and one thing only – the countdown to this year's Love Island is officially on. Yep, applications for the upcoming season have opened, which means the people we'll be spending our summer watching might have already been picked. How exciting!? Perhaps even more exciting than that though is that this year's cast might be the most diverse yet, given that applications are being accepted from non-binary contestants.
It comes after ITV, which airs the hit show, faced criticism for the lack of LGBTQ+ representation in the show, which producers claim proposes "logistical difficulties".
Responding to fans' questions about when or if a gay contestant would ever walk through the villa doors, last year ITV boss Amada Stavri told the Radio Times: "In terms of gay Islanders, I think the main challenge is regarding the format of Love Island. There’s a sort of logistical difficulty, because although Islanders don’t have to be 100% straight, the format must sort of give [the] Islanders an equal choice when coupling up."
But, perhaps the Love Island tides are turning, with a TV source recently telling The Sun: "Producers are under more pressure than ever to make this series as woke as possible after it has previously come under criticism for its lack of diversity."
The insider continued: "The move could make the basic rules of the show complicated, as each coupling ceremony separates boys and girls, but they are keen to have a non-binary contestant this year. It’s all about inclusivity and breaking down boundaries."
That's not to say LGBTQ+ contestants haven't appeared on the show at all. Katie Salmon, who appeared on the 2016 season, was the first bisexual contestant to appear on Love Island, and coupled up with fellow islander, Sophie Gradon. Just a few years later, 2018 contestant Megan Barton Hanson came out as bisexual after leaving the villa, and last year's Sharon Gaffka says she came out in unaired scenes.
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