Colton Underwood – the former NFL player who has appeared on multiple Bachelor series – has come out as gay.
“I’ve ran from myself for a long time. I’ve hated myself for a long time,” he told Good Morning America. “And I’m gay. And I came to terms with that earlier this year and have been processing it. And the next step in all of this was sort of letting people know.”
“I’m emotional, but I’m emotional in such a good, happy, positive way,” he said. He said that he knew that he was “different” since he was a little kid and knew that he was gay when he started high school. But he grew up in the Catholic Church and school.
“I learned in the Bible that gay is a sin,” he explained, adding that he heard a lot of homophobic insults in school sports. This drove him deeper into the closet and he said that he thought he would never come out.
“I was driving my car close to a cliff, thinking ‘If this goes off the cliff, it’s not that big of a deal,'” he recounted, referring to how he knew he had to come out. “I don’t feel that anymore.”
Underwood played football in college and even had the beginning of an NFL career, getting signed as an undrafted free agent by the San Diego Chargers and staying with them for a year before joining the practice squad of the Oakland Raiders from 2015 to 2016.
But he’s better known for his appearances on the Bachelor Nation franchise, the reality show where a group of men or women compete for the affection of a member of the opposite sex. He was a contestant on season 14 in 2018 of The Bachelorette and got fourth place. He was then cast in season 5 of Bachelor in Paradise, where he as linked with contestant Tia Booth. They left the show separately.
Afterwards, he starred in season 23 of The Bachelor – he was the man that thirty young women competed for. He was branded “the virgin bachelor” during his season because he was open about being a virgin.
It might seem strange for a gay man to have participated in such an aggressively heterosexual competition, but Underwood said that he was just very deep in the closet at the time.
“I literally remember praying to God, the morning I found out that I was a bachelor, and thanking him for making me straight,” he said. “I remember that vividly, saying ‘Finally, you’re letting me be straight. Finally, you’re giving me a wife, a fiancee, that I’m gonna have the kids, gonna have the house.'”
“I just wish I wouldn’t have dragged people into my own mess of figuring out who I was,” he said, referring to the women who he dated during his appearances on the Bachelor series. “I’m sorry to all of those women.”
“And I can also say thank you, because without them, and without the Bachelor franchise, I don’t know if this would have ever come out.”
On March 12, 2019, he chose Cassie Randolph as the winner of season 23, without proposing to her. They dated for a year before announcing their break-up in May 2020, saying, “Sometimes people are just meant to be friends.”
That amicable break-up was not what it appeared to be. Months later, Randolph requested a restraining order against Underwood, alleging he stalked her, sent her “unsettling” text messages, and put a tracking device on her car. She later said that they resolved their issues privately and asked the police to drop the investigation.
He also apologized to Randolph during his coming out interview.
“I’d like to say I’m sorry, for how things ended,” he said. “I made a lot of bad choices.”
He said that he was actually in love with her.
“That only made it harder and more confusing for me.”
Last year, he published his memoirs – The First Time: Finding Myself and Looking for Love on Reality TV – where he talked about viewing online gay adult content as a teen – as well as questions like “Am I gay?” “How do you know if you’re gay?” and “Why don’t I like having sex with my girlfriend?” – and dealing with his parents finding out.
He wrote in the memoir that he was just curious when he searched for those things on the internet, the same thing that he told his father at the time.
“He asked if I wanted to talk about it. I said no, explaining that I’d figured things out on my own. I begged him not to tell Mom. I’m sure he did,” he wrote. “But neither of them ever spoke about it with me. All that research, though, led me to understand that I was definitely attracted to girls.”
Still in the closet, he told Us Weekly at the time that he wrote about that in his memoirs to “take ownership” of his virginity on The Bachelor after fans often called him gay.
“Looking back, the hardest part was definitely opening up and sort of talking about early on in grade school and even in high school, getting called gay,” he said. “The reason I say that is because it came back up when I was the Bachelor. I think it was very easy for fans and very easy for people to just — [when] they don’t understand something or if they don’t agree with somebody, they have to, in their mind, get from point A to point B. So point B is, ‘Oh, he’s gay. That’s why he’s a virgin. He’s just hiding it from us.’ And I understand why people might think that, but it was also a challenge of mine in grade school and in high school. I think I moved past it now.”