Last night’s Love Island episode saw islander Phoebe Thompson break the rules and couple up with Cassie Lansdell.

To me, this episode was one of the most refreshing portrayals of queer romance in Australian reality TV history, partly due to Phoebe and Cassie’s open-minded take on sexual fluidity and partly due to the housemates’ relaxed, nonchalant attitudes towards their mutual attraction. It just wasn’t a big deal, and that was the beauty of it all.

Now, I don’t want to detract from the importance of last night’s coupling ceremony. In some ways, it was a big deal for Phoebe and Cassie. For one, Phoebe was obviously going against the grain in a normally-rigid, straight environment. Both islanders had also mentioned that they’d never seriously dated girls in the past – even admitting their slight reservations in doing so – but ultimately chose to follow the attraction they unknowingly found in each other. Needless to say, it’d take a lot of bravery to act on these desires on a national scale, let alone at all.

When talking about their connection prior to the ceremony, the duo discussed the rise in people exploring their sexuality.

“That many people are bi these days,” Cassie said. “Not even bi, just [having] no preference, I guess… that should be okay.”

“You don’t have to be labelled as anything,” Phoebe added. “Just make choices to figure out who you are and want you want.”

“Exactly,” Cassie responded, in a simple exchange that, to me, was powerful in diminishing labels.

Everyone’s reactions to their budding relationship inside the house were also extremely refreshing – it became, dare I say… a non-event (in the greatest way possible).

I greatly underestimated Adam. I initially dismissed him as being an archetype of a blokey dude who’d find these kinds of conversations uncomfortable. But he pushed for the relationship more than anyone else. To him, their inevitable coupling was a no-brainer, and he encouraged them to “have a crack at it” if they wanted to. (I now stan Adam so hard, and you should too.)

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We don't deserve Adam. #LoveIslandAU

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From Adam’s perspective, it was simple – if Cassie and Phoebe worked, then it worked, and if it didn’t, well, at least they gave it a go. And it should be that simple – when all the labels and stigmas are removed from the equation, mutual attraction should be effortless.

Cassie and Phoebe’s blossoming connection, as well as the other islanders’ supportive and nonchalant reactions to it, is symbolic of our evolving attitudes towards exploring sexuality without the pressure of labels. I also feel like it was an important step forward in potentially helping those who may be wanting to experiment but are currently feeling held back by reservations.

Safe to say, this episode made me, a fellow member of the blessèd LGBTQ+ community, proud of how far reality TV has come.

Image: Instagram / @cassielansdell