Demi Burnett is pushing back at critics who had negative things to say about her same-sex relationship.
The Bachelor in Paradise star, 24, appeared on ABC’s Good Morning America on Thursday, opening up in her first television interview about her surprise romance with Kristian Haggerty.
This week, Burnett — who came out as queer last month — decided not to continue dating Derek Peth, instead reuniting with Haggerty, a non-Bachelor franchise alum who she’d been dating in Los Angeles before going on the show.
It was a history making moment that sent Bachelor Nation into a frenzy, leading some trolls to send Burnett hate online.
“This was a super-tough time for me that being criticized does hurt,” Burnett admitted on Thursday’s GMA of the negative comments. “But I know there’s nothing I can do to change how people are perceiving it or how they feel about it.”
One way Burnett has been pushing through the hate has been by focusing on the positive messages from fans.
“There is so many messages on my [direct messages] on Twitter, Instagram, of people who are thanking me because they have been struggling with the same thing that I went through,” she said. “Knowing that I helped somebody just by being who I was, that’s amazing for me. And it feels really good.”
“It means a lot to me,” Burnett said, of coming out on the show. “I was just being myself and living my life and loving who I loved. I just wanted to be honest with who I was and follow wherever my heart led me.”
It also helps that her parents have been supportive.
On BIP, Burnett said that coming out to them was difficult. But as hard as that was for Burnett, the response she received from her mom and dad made it all that much easier.
“My parents love me very much and the way that they handled it was so beautiful, them just saying, ‘You are always going to be our Dems and we’re going to love you and support you no matter what,’ ” she recalled on GMA. “It was very special.”
Burnett and Haggerty are still together and have been displaying their romance on social media since Monday’s episode aired.
“It’s fun being able to show her off and tell the world about this person that nobody has ever heard about because she isn’t a part of Bachelor Nation, so it’s fun being able to show off our relationship now because it does mean so much to both of us,” Burnett said on GMA.
On BIP, she told Haggerty, “The second that I saw you, I knew — it’s you. It’s always been you. I want to be with you.”
“I want to commit to you,” she promised. “And I’ve never wanted to commit to someone like this before.”
Bachelor in Paradise airs Mondays and Tuesdays (8 p.m. ET) on ABC.
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