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Former The Bachelor star Colton Underwood has said that, prior to coming out as gay, he was subjected to a blackmail threat after visiting a gay spa.
Underwood came out publicly last month, saying he had “ran from myself [and] hated myself for a long time,” but was now “the happiest and healthiest” he’s ever felt and is “proud to be gay.”
(Read More: ‘Bachelor’ star Colton Underwood comes out as gay)
But in an interview with Variety, the 29-year-old — who was the lead for the 23rd season of ABC’s reality show, after previously appearing on the 14th season of The Bachelorette and fifth season of Bachelor in Paradise — said that someone threatened to release photos of him after he visited a Los Angeles gay spa.
Underwood said he visited the spa “just to look,” adding that he “should never have been there.” Shortly after the visit, someone emailed him anonymously, claiming to have naked photos of him at the spa and threatening to “out” him publicly.
He forwarded the email to his publicist, telling Variety, “I knew that out of anybody in my world, my publicist wasn’t going to ruin me.”
Underwood said that the threat ultimately forced him to “finally have an honest conversation about his sexual orientation,” per Variety.
Elsewhere in the interview, Underwood said he had struggled with his sexuality since childhood, and that his father found gay porn on his computer when he was in eighth grade.
He also admitted that, while The Bachelor branded Underwood the “virgin Bachelor,” he “did experiment with men prior to being on The Bachelorette,” but called them “hookups, not sex.” He also admitted to using Grindr prior to appearing on The Bachelorette.
Underwood also addressed controversy surrounding allegations made by his The Bachelor costar, Cassie Randolph, to whom he offered the final rose. Randolph filed a restraining order against Underwood last year, claiming he had stalked her and harassed her via text.
He said he couldn’t comment extensively due to an agreement with Randolph, but told Variety that he “did not physically touch or physically abuse Cassie in any way, shape or form.”
“I never want people to think that I’m coming out to change the narrative, or to brush over and not take responsibility for my actions, and now that I have this gay life that I don’t have to address my past as a straight man,” Underwood added. “Controlling situations to try to grasp at any part of the straight fantasy that I was trying to live out was so wrong.”
The accusations against Underwood contributed to a backlash against him when, shortly after coming out, it was announced that Netflix was producing a reality series about his coming out, with Olympic skier Gus Kenworthy set to star as his “gay guide.”
Former *NSYNC member Lance Bass accused Underwood of “monetizing” his coming out experience, and more than 35,000 people have signed a petition calling him “abusive, manipulative, and dangerous” and urging Netflix to drop the show, given Randolph’s allegations.
Raffy Ermac, editor-in-chief of Pride, told Variety that Netflix “shouldn’t be glorifying someone who has this history of allegedly stalking a woman.”
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