Love Island bosses are reportedly looking to diversify their cast for the upcoming seventh season of the show, with greater queer representation. ITV sources have said they are looking for bisexual or pansexual contestants to make up at least 40% of the cast this year.
“Love Island has always been inclusive – the only criteria is that you’re over 18 and looking for love,” a source told The Sun. “But this is the first year that finding contestants with more fluid sexuality has been part of the briefing … The casting team have been doing their best to tick that box as they whittle down the pool of contestants to the final numbers.”
Though the show has never banned same-sex couples, the format has been very much geared towards straight pairings. Love Island creator Richard Cowles said in 2017 that “there is a logistical element which makes it difficult” to have queer couples on the show.
ITV’s Head of Digital Channels, Paul Mortimer also commented on this saying, “The format doesn’t really allow it. If you’re familiar with the programme, it’s about coupling and recoupling … To complicate it with same-sex relationships is to take something away from the format.”
The show has only ever seen one same-sex pairing, Katie Salmon and Sophie Gradon, who dated during the 2016 series. However, there have been other queer contestants. Megan Barton Hanson came out as bisexual after she appeared on season four of Love Island, where she placed fourth.
Hanson has previously said she would definitely return to Love Island for an all-queer version of the show. Speaking to the Cambridge Union’s debating society she said, “I don’t know how it’d work if they just chucked a few token gay people in there, I think we need a whole gay series … If you’re going to do it, do it properly!”
Hanson also explained that she would have had a “completely different experience” on Love Island if there had been openly “gay people on the show.” She added, “It didn’t even enter my head, I just assumed that every girl on there was completely straight.”
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