Love Island star Tom Powell has accused producers of “manipulating” the late Sophie Gradon and Katie Salmon into kissing to appeal to LGBT+ viewers.
Powell appeared in the 2016 season of the British reality show and coupled up with Gradon, who later re-coupled with Katie Salmon.
Gradon and Salmon shared a kiss in the villa and were Love Island‘s first – and to date, only – same-sex couple.
Five years on, and according to the Mirror, Powell has claimed that producers “manipulated” events and “massively” pressured Gradon into kissing Salmon, claiming it would be a “great thing” for the “LGBT community”.
“When I left… Katie Salmon got voted in, who is bisexual,” Powell said during Simon Gross’ Love Island Extra Show on Instagram Live, the Mirror reported. “They knew Sophie [Gradon] was bisexual.”
He continued, per the outlet: “So they went out on a date, and the two producers that were the ‘date producers’ were there, and they convinced Sophie that it would be great for the gay community, for the LGBT community if they kissed.
“The first ‘gay couple’, first ‘bisexual couple’ on TV, and it would be this massive thing for the community.
“Sophie didn’t want to kiss Katie, Katie even told me this afterwards that Sophie said ‘no’. But they convinced her to do it.”
Tragically, Gradon died in 2018 aged 32. During her time on the show, she was open about her bisexuality and spoke about dating women.
Beyond her appearance on Love Island, Gradon had a career in beauty pageants and was crowned Miss Great Britain in 2009.
ITV, which produces Love Island, has been criticised in the past for its lack of LGBT+ inclusion.
The show has had bisexual contestants in the past but the format focuses on mixed-gender couplings.
However, ITV commissioner Amanda Stavri told Radio Times in June that including queer contestants presented a “logistical difficulty” because of the format.
Stavri said: “There’s a sort of logistical difficulty, because although Islanders don’t have to be 100 per cent straight, the format must sort of give [the] Islanders an equal choice when coupling up.”
She then pointed out that other ITV dating shows such as The Cabins offer “much more sexual diversity” because they “don’t have as much restrictions as Love Island“.
PinkNews has contacted ITV and Katie Salmon for comment.