Love Island star Katie Salmon has spoken out about the biphobia she experienced after a prominent same-sex romance on the show.
The reality star appeared on Love Island in 2016, and had an on-air relationship with fellow contestant Sophie Gradon, which to date remains the show’s only same-sex relationship.
Salmon, who is bisexual, spoke out to mark Bi Visibility Day, while appearing on the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire programme.
She explained that after coming out as bi on Love Island, she was shocked to encounter negative attitude within the LGBT+ community.
She said: “When I came off the show, I was reading a few tweets and seeing some of the things the gay community had been saying in Liverpool—just throwing some shade, saying, ‘No, she’s not, who knew that about her?’
“Because I had obviously been in [the closet] for so many years and never done it so publicly.
“I felt like they all doubted me and were criticising me, and just treated it like, ‘She’s doing it for another reason, that’s not really who she is.'”
“I get called greedy so much, and not [taken] seriously. That’s what hurt me the most—you’ve probably been in this position I’ve been in, you’ve probably felt the way I felt,” Salmon added.
“I was really upset, to be honest, that they’d not supported me in my own community who had probably felt those [same] nervous feelings of coming out.”
It’s not just other LGBT+ people who have an issue, either, with Salmon explaining that straight men often fixate on her sexuality.
She said: “It’s more from men than it is women. I’m quite fetishised, they see it as a sexual thing. They never take it seriously… they think it’s entertainment for them.
“They’ll be like, ‘Oh, you like women as well, you like threesomes’ … that’s what really bothers me, because if it’s to please someone, it’s to please myself, it’s not as entertainment value.”
She added: “I’m attracted to certain people, I’m not attracted to every single woman that goes by me, nor am I with men, and people get that confused.”
The BBC also spoke to bisexual activist Lewis Oakley, who spoke about his experiences of biphobia in the gay community.
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He said: “I was out at a club and I met a girl and we were kissing, and then some of my gay friends took pictures of it and put it on a group chat.
“[They were] saying things like, ‘Oh, disgusting, a gay guy being seduced [by a woman] in Soho,’ all that kind of stuff.
“Can you imagine if I’d taken a picture of them kissing a guy and had written this. You’d think there would be more empathy, but there’s not.”
Oakley added that other people often claim he will “figure out” that he is gay eventually.
He said: “For me, that’s really irritating. I dated a guy for two years—if I was gay, I would [come out as] gay.”
Oakley said friends also advised his girlfriend to break up with him because his sexuality makes him ‘untrustworthy’ or likely to cheat.
He said: “[They told her] that you need to break up with him.”
“They have told her things such as, ‘You’ll eventually find him in bed with a man.’ ‘How will you ever satisfy all his needs?’ ‘Oh, he’ll be looking at guys.'”