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Former The Bachelor star Colton Underwood has come out as gay two years after appearing on the long-running heterosexual dating show.
Underwood, a 29-year-old former football player, was the lead for the 23rd season of ABC’s reality show, after previously appearing during the 14th season of The Bachelorette and fifth season of Bachelor in Paradise.
He offered the final rose to Cassie Randolph, with the pair dating until May last year. Randolph later filed a restraining order against him, claiming he had stalked her and harassed her via text.
In an interview with Good Morning America host Robin Roberts, who is lesbian, Underwood apologized to Randolph and said he had spent a long time coming to terms with his sexuality.
“I’ve ran from myself for a long time. I’ve hated myself for a long time,” he said. “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 still nervous, but it’s been a journey for sure.”
Underwood told Roberts he had experienced a “dark and bad” time prior to accepting his sexuality. Roberts then asked him if he’d ever considered acting on his thoughts.
“There was a moment in L.A. that I woke up and I didn’t think I was going to wake up,” he said. “I didn’t have the intentions of waking up, and I did. And I think for me that was my wake up call, that, ‘This is your life. Take back control.’ I think looking back even beyond that is… even just suicidal thoughts and driving my car close to a cliff, like, ‘Oh, if this goes off the cliff, it’s not that big of a deal.’ I don’t feel that anymore.”
Also influencing matters was the COVID-19 pandemic, which Underwood said had forced people to “look at themselves in the mirror and figure out who they are and what they’ve been running from,” adding that he was now “the happiest and healthiest” he’s ever felt.
As for appearing on the most prominent heterosexual dating show on television, Underwood said he would “understand” if people felt misled by him applying for The Bachelorette — and agreeing to headline The Bachelor.
“I’ve thought a lot about this too, of, ‘Do I regret being the Bachelor and do I regret handling it the way that I did?’ I do,” he said. “I do think I could’ve handled it better, I’ll say that.”
He apologized to Randolph for “any pain and emotional stress” he inflicted, and told Roberts he wished he “would’ve been courageous enough to fix myself before I broke anybody else.”
Discussing faith, Underwood said he’d previously prayed for God to “take the gay away. I used to pray for him to change me.”
He said that Catholic school had taught him as a child that being gay “is a sin,” but he had “felt different” since he was 6. By the time he reached high school, he said, he “was more attracted to the boys and the men” than girls or women.
Underwood ultimately decided to come out after realizing that he had the “love and the support of my friends and my family.”
He urged those struggling with their sexuality to “keep fighting for you. Keep choosing you every morning. And when the time’s ready or when the time’s right and you’re ready, do it on your own time.”
As for dating men, Underwood said he hadn’t yet had an “emotional connection” with another man because he’d “never allowed myself to,” but he hopes that will change.
“It’s never been sort of in my cards to let myself get there, and I want to more than anything,” he said. “I’m looking for someone who can push me and challenge me in all the great ways.”
Ultimately, he said he was “still the same Colton everybody met on TV,” but he was finally “able to share with people now all of me.”
He added that he was “proud of that, you know? I am proud to be gay.”
In a statement, LGBTQ media advocacy organization GLAAD noted that “every LGBTQ person’s journey to discovering and accepting their authentic self is different.”
“Colton Underwood’s decision to share his truth with the public reminds us that there is no set timeline for coming out,” Anthony Allen Ramos, GLAAD’s head of talent, said. “Given the large and loyal fandom who know Colton from The Bachelor, his coming out and discussion of his faith will hopefully open eyes to the millions of out and proud LGBTQ people who are also people of faith.”
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