Love Is Blind has everything a reality TV fan could possibly want: high stakes, pretty people, alcohol, and ill-advised marriages. It’s a near-perfect formula. And, like Jessica is with Barnett, we’re obsessed.
While the show has plenty of drama, one of its earliest breakout scenes occurs when 34-year-old Cartlon Morton reveals to his fiancée, 28-year-old Diamond—a woman he’s known for 10 days while they’ve spoken to each other only through a wall without ever seeing each other—that he is bisexual.
The following morning, Diamond expresses that she believes Carlton manipulated the show’s experiment by not informing her of his sexuality before the proposal. The accusation erupts into a poolside screaming match in which engagement rings and fruity cocktails are tossed. It’s all very dramatic.
As a bisexual man, I immediately empathized with Morton, but I also had to acknowledge that he made a misstep. He agrees.
“I feel horrible for how I handled the situation, and it hasn’t been easy,” Morton tells NewNowNext. “Every day is a new struggle, with tons of people sending me hateful messages online wishing me death. It really hurts. Looking back, if I could’ve just said, ‘Give me a moment to process this because I don’t want this to become an argument,’ things would’ve probably gone different. The what-ifs are beginning to haunt me.”
Morton is very careful with his words, probably due to the heated reactions he’s received since the show premiered last month. Even though Love Is Blind was filmed back in 2018, he is still horrified by his behavior, which today is amplified through social media commentary.
So where did Morton go wrong, and what caused it?
“When Carlton comes out to Diamond, he’s already expecting that she will reject him,” bisexual marriage therapist and Love Is Blind fanatic Saba Harouni Lurie tells NewNowNext. “He is coming out to her and seemingly experiencing the loss of the relationship at the same time, which makes it difficult to honestly engage with her and remain present during the conversation.”
Before his confession, Morton doesn’t seem like himself, pushing Diamond away. Lurie suspects this was a preemptive measure to protect himself, which makes sense. Coming out to anybody can be incredibly difficult and triggering. Imagine doing it on Netflix, which hosts 151 million subscribers worldwide.
This pressure got to Morton, who confesses he had many off-camera meltdowns while filming the show. One castmate noticed and spoke up.
“I had a very tough day filming, and one day Cameron asked if everything was okay,” he says. Until the show aired, Cameron was the only male cast member on it who knew Morton’s sexuality. “He was very supportive and never told anyone else. I truly appreciate him for that.”
Bisexual people don’t often see this sort of allyship. While we account for 40% of the LGBTQ adult population, only 19% of those who identify as bisexual say all or most of the important people in their lives are aware of their sexual orientation, compared to 75% of gay and lesbian adults.
“Unfortunately, there is still a lot of stigma around being bisexual,” Lurie says. “In an ideal world, people would engage in relationships with bisexuals with the same comfort and openness with which they would approach any relationship.”
In Lurie’s personal and professional experience, people tend to struggle with choosing a bisexual partner because they believe the stereotypes that bisexual individuals can’t be satisfied, or worry that their sexuality is “just a phase” and the partner isn’t going to commit to a long-term relationship. Diamond demonstrates this when she asks if Carlton would ever be fulfilled with just her. “These are the misconceptions that Carlton is referring to, and they’re damaging to bisexual individuals,” Lurie says.
While Diamond’s reaction wasn’t ideal, it also wasn’t totally surprising. “I imagine that learning this information after the proposal felt like a betrayal to Diamond,” Lurie says. “Given that Carlton mentions that he has had folks reject him, it’s understandable that he struggled with determining when to come out to Diamond, and that it was difficult to imagine that Diamond could accept him. I think if he had been able to approach her with the belief that there was a possibility of her accepting him, that they could have experienced a different outcome.”
No matter how you feel about Morton, his role on the show is important. His story represents the countless bisexual men who are afraid to be honest about their sexuality, and what happens when their greatest fears are realized. “I was so afraid I would lose someone I had fallen in love with… and I did,” Morton says. Similarly, Diamond represents the straight women who are skeptical of bisexual men, influenced by a heteronormative society that resists any type of sexuality outside the binary.
Though their stint on the series was short-lived, Morton and Diamond were one of the most compelling relationships on it—even if many viewers still see Morton as some kind of closet monster.
Reacting to all the hate being hurled Morton’s way, blogger Vaneet Mehta recently tweeted the hashtag #BisexualMenExist, which showcased images of proud bisexual men with encouraging captions. It quickly went viral.
“I saw several successive comments after [the Love Is Blind episode] that really upset me,” Mehta told The Advocate. “The biphobia towards men had been a mess, and I wanted to spread some positivity instead.”
Lurie, too, is hoping for a positive outcome. “I would like to believe that by having Carlton on the show we are inviting folks to have a conversation about how difficult it is to come out to someone we love,” Lurie says. “There is still very little bisexual representation in the media, which erases our identity and promotes stereotypes. The more we see different iterations of what it means and looks like to be bisexual, the more progress we can expect.”
Love Is Blind is streaming now on Netflix. The reunion special premieres March 5 on Netflix’s YouTube channel.