I Kissed a Girl contestant on tackling taboos

I Kissed a Girl cast
'I Kissed a Girl' comes a year after its predecessor was announced as the first gay dating show in the UK [BBC]

Full of drama, flirting and awakening conversations, I Kissed a Girl comes a year after its predecessor made headlines as the first gay dating show in the UK.

Ten contestants are whisked away to a remote Italian villa, and surprise, surprise, as the name suggests - are introduced with a kiss.

I Kissed a Girl follows last summer's hit show I Kissed a Boy, and started this week on BBC3, with Priya Sohanpal, 23, from Newport, one of the contestants.

So what is it like to be on the show?

Newport contestant Priya
Priya said she "wasn't expecting much" when she applied, but the next thing she knew she was packing her bags and jetting off to Italy [BBC]

Priya initially hid her application from friends and family, and when she was approached was in two minds about appearing, thinking "what business do I have being on a reality TV show?"

She said in many South Asian communities it is taboo to talk about being in a relationship let alone being gay, and she was worried about her family's reaction - but they were very supportive.

Priya decided to go through with it, adding: "I wasn't expecting much.

"The next thing you know, I'm packing my bags and going to Italy.

"I wanted to do it because I was like, why not? It'll be life-changing, and what an opportunity to represent South Asian queers."

Describing her worries over what her friends and family would think, she said: "I remember I had a Zoom call with someone from production, I told my family it was a job interview.

"I told them towards the end of the process and they were fine about it.

"Ever since the show came out they've been super supportive, all my friends are kind of gagged by everything.

They saw the first two episodes and said they could never do it.

"They said they didn't know how I had the confidence to kiss someone in front of a million cameras."

'It's taboo to talk about'

Her decision to appear has been vindicated with lots of positive feedback so far.

"Plus, I've had messages from South Asian queer women saying thank you for representing South Asians, because in our community, it's taboo to talk about being in a relationship, let alone being gay," she added.

"I'm proud to have this chance to be able to represent queer South Asian girls in Wales."

Priya came out to her parents in 2020.

She said: "I only recently came out to my family. I was definitely nervous about telling my dad because he's an old Punjabi man.

"I didn't know how to tell him, but it ended up being really easy because I had my ex-girlfriend over.

"I was like, 'oh dad, by the way, this girl who's been coming round, she's not my friend. She's my girlfriend'.

"He just said 'okay' and walked off. I didn't make a big deal about it."

When Priya told her extended family, she described them being shocked at first, but her mum was also very supportive.

"She was really happy for me," Priya added.

"I'm so lucky to have such a supportive family, because I know not every South Asian queer woman has that experience and may not have a safe space.

"I think it's really important for people in my community to talk about it more so it becomes less of a taboo."

She described it being difficult to date growing up in Newport, adding: "I have never dated anyone from Newport, because I have just never found anyone.

"I'm very proud to be from Newport, I just haven't found people from here that I relate to, especially being a minority.

"I was like one of very few South Asian people in my school. So I grew up in a very white environment.

"When I went to university in Birmingham, I found more people that were my type.

"But then when I came out as gay, it was so hard. I think the closest thing I could get near me were gay clubs in Cardiff.

"Everywhere else, I just couldn't find anyone. So I went on (dating app) Hinge, I'd swipe all the time and then even put my location in America, because why not? Go to a different country. Try somewhere else."

Speaking about growing up, Priya said: "I got bullied in school because of my race.

"Wales hasn't always been the kindest to me, but it's fine.

"I'm still proud to be a Welsh South Asian girl."

The series, which is a female version of last year's popular dating show I Kissed a Boy, features ten lesbian and bisexual contestants, alongside host Dannii Minogue and TikTok star Charley Marlowe, who is stepping into the voiceover booth to narrate the show.

You can catch up on all episodes so far on BBC iPlayer.