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Love Island boss says including gay contestants would be too ‘logistically difficult’

Maggie Baska June 3, 2021
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Love Island has previously faced criticism for failing to include LGBT+ contestants (ITV)

An ITV boss has claimed that including gay contestants on Love Island is a “logistical difficulty” because of the format of the dating show.

The UK is gearing up for a new season of Love Island this summer after it was cancelled last year due to COVID-19. The creators of the hit ITV show have promised this year’s cast will be more diverse than ever. But apparently, this will not extend to any LGBT+ representation on Love Island.

ITV commissioner Amanda Stavri told Radio Times that the show’s creators have wanted to “encourage greater inclusivity and diversity” and addressed the “quite a few rumours” about possibly including gay Islanders.

But she said the “main challenge” to furthering LGBT+ representation is the “format of Love Island“. Stavri said: “There’s a sort of logistical difficulty, because although Islanders don’t have to be 100 per cent straight, the format must sort of give [the] Islanders an equal choice when coupling up.”

Love Island involves a group of contestants – also known as Islanders – living in isolation in a villa. To survive, the Islanders must be coupled up with another contestant. But throughout the show, Islanders can choose to remain with their current partner or swap.

She argued other ITV dating shows like The Cabins offers “much more sexual diversity” because the formats “don’t have as much restrictions as Love Island“.

“So we’re very sort of mindful of that across our programming on ITV and dating series,” Stavri said. “But that’s the difficulty with Love Island.”

Love Island has been slammed by fans for its lack of inclusivity and representation on the show. The reality show has had bisexual contestants in the past, but fans have wanted to see more LGBT+ and same-sex couples on the series for a while.

A source told The Sun in May that Love Island bosses wanted bisexual or pansexual contestants to make up 40 per cent of the upcoming series cast. The source said this year is the first that “finding contestants with more fluid sexuality has been part of the briefing”.

Fans of the show had divided reactions to Stavri’s comments. Some said the idea that queer people would represent a “logistical difficulty” for Love Island should be the hint that the format needs to be revamped.

TV critic Scott Bryan said part of him “understands” Stavri’s comments, but “part of me gets so irritated by this too”.

“On principle, nowhere should be blocked off on TV because your sexuality,” Bryan wrote. “It’s 2021. If it’s causing a problem, change the show to make it work babes.”

Alexandra Pollard, deputy culture editor for The Independent, wrote on Twitter: “If your format only works with straight people maybe rethink the format?

“Do a lil spider diagram, have a lil think.”

But writer Jason Okundaye said there is “something about the contrived heterosexuality of Love Island which makes it entertaining to watch”. He added that he liked how Love Island “allows me to be up in the personal business of these messy, deeply heterosexual couples”.

Related topics: love island

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