Rachel Lindsay, The Bachelor franchise's first Black lead, is speaking out against the series' "toxic audience."
Lindsay, who became the first Black lead of The Bachelorette in 2017, published an essay Monday in Vulture about her experiences in the reality show franchise and the departure of longtime host Chris Harrison. Harrison exited after, in an interview with Lindsay, controversially defending a contestant who attended an antebellum-themed formal, and Lindsay writes that she received "death threats" and "personal attacks" in the wake of their conversation.
"The fandom had always had a complicated relationship with me," she writes. "But it really started to turn against me after that interview. The franchise has spent 19 years cultivating a toxic audience. They have constantly given it a product it wants: a midwestern/southern white, blonde, light-eyed Christian."
Lindsay adds that "not all viewers are like that," but she divides Bachelor fans into two groups: the "Bachelor Nation" and the "Bachelor Klan," the latter of which is "hateful, racist, misogynistic, xenophobic, and homophobic." She also says she had to hire protection due to the death threats and ultimately "couldn't even pretend to want to be involved" anymore.
Speaking about her Harrison interview, Lindsay writes that she "felt disrespected" as he "showed his true self" by defending Rachael Kirkconnell, and she identifies this as the moment she "knew my relationship with The Bachelor was over." Going back to 2018, though, she says she was "uneasy" about the franchise, feeling as if it had "checked off a box with me" and was now going "right back to doing what was comfortable and easy." Despite her hopes of lasting change from The Bachelor, Lindsay adds that the Harrison interview made her think that "this is a charade."
Read the full essay, in which Lindsay also voices frustrations over her season of The Bachelorette and discusses being the "first person representing Black people to [the franchise's] lily-white audience," at Vulture.