Megan Barton-Hanson has defended the “healthy” side of reality TV, saying LGBTQ+ representation in the industry is “heading in the right direction”.
The TV star and influencer, who has over 1.6million followers on Instagram, has appeared on countless reality programs including ITV2’s Love Island and MTV’s Celebrity Ex’s new series On The Beach – and publicly came out as bisexual in 2019 .
“I think everyone is so quick to talk about the negative aspects of reality shows but I think (it’s) healthy,” the 28-year-old from Essex told the PA news agency.
“If you can see it on your TV and everyone’s like, ‘This man is dead wrong about the way he spoke to that girl’ (or) ‘This girl is dead wrong about the way she put him down’ — I think that is so necessary.”
Barton-Hanson rose to fame in 2018 after appearing on season four of reality dating show Love Island, in which a group of young singletons ‘get married’ to find love and win prize money of up to £50,000.
However, she admitted she hasn’t watched her own series – in which she was slandered online at the time for confessing her feelings to Islander Wes Nelson when he was dating flight attendant Laura Anderson.
“My memory of Love Island was so fond, I fell in love and made some amazing friends,” she said.
“I don’t want to look back and have that clouded by an edit or the way I was perceived.”
Barton-Hanson and Nelson, 23, dated off the show for five months before splitting in 2019.
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After appearing on reality shows for four years, she said she felt “supported” about her sexuality.
She added that her time on Channel 4’s Celebs Go Dating in 2019 was particularly “lovely”.
“I like how some shows like Towie, Ex On The Beach and Celebs Go Dating use LGBT+ storylines but don’t make a big deal out of it,” she said.
“I think that’s really refreshing and very enlightening and inspiring … and it shows that television is moving in the right direction.”
But Barton-Hanson said “bigger” shows like Love Island could “do more” to demonstrate greater representation of the LGBTQ+ community.
“They say it’s all for logistical reasons, but I feel like that looked a little bit like a cop … they’re kind of afraid to rock the boat,” she said.
Barton-Hanson hopes her openness on the subject has encouraged others to consider their own sexuality and said it would have served her well to see more of it growing up.
“In retrospect, I have no regrets, but I wish I had been more open about it earlier,” she said.
“It’s something I didn’t see a lot growing up … there was a very small gay community in my area and it was mostly all men.”
Barton-Hanson has regularly discussed topics related to women’s empowerment and sex on her podcast, titled “You Come First.”
The Ex On The Beach star has praised reality TV shows for being a tool to highlight toxic behavior in relationships.
“You see people settling down (for someone) and being treated unfairly, but when you see a strong and confident woman standing up for herself on TV I find that very helpful — especially for younger girls,” she said.
Barton-Hanson added that she has found collaborating with other women on photoshoots “empowering.”
“You can preach girls to support girls until you’re blue in the face, but I think it’s more about action,” she said.
“I know for a fact that receiving compliments from other women means a lot more than receiving compliments from men.”
Barton-Hanson is currently starring in Celebrity Ex On The Beach which airs Tuesdays at 10pm on MTV UK.
https://www.independent.ie/entertainment/megan-barton-hanson-lgbtq-representation-on-tv-is-moving-in-right-direction-41416612.html Megan Barton-Hanson: LGBTQ+ representation on TV ‘is moving in the right direction’