The Bachelor's Colton Underwood is gay.
The reality star, 29, came out on Good Morning America on Wednesday, saying he is the "happiest and healthiest I've ever been in my life."
Underwood said the last year, amid the pandemic, was one of reflection on things he's been "running from" and he realized that he's gay.
"I've ran from myself for a long time, I've hated myself for a long time," the former football player told Robin Roberts. "I'm gay, and I came to terms with that earlier this year and have been processing it. The next step in all of this was sort of letting people know."
He said he was "still nervous," adding, "It's been a journey for sure." He said he was "emotional," but in a "good, happy, positive way."
When Roberts asked what gave him courage to speak his truth, Underwood said, "I got into a place for me in my personal life that was dark and bad. I can list a bunch of different things but they'd all be excuses. But I think overall the reason why now is because I got to a place where I didn't think I was ever going to share this. I would have rather died than say, 'I'm gay.' And that was sort of my wakeup call."
He also spoke about having suicidal thoughts, saying, "There was a moment in L.A. that I woke up and I didn't think I was going to wake up. I didn't have the intentions of waking up. And I did. And for me, I think that was my wake-up call of, 'This is your life. Take back control.'"
Of those thoughts, Underwood added, "I don't feel that anymore" after coming to terms with his sexuality.
He said he's known he's been "different" since the age of 6 and knew he was gay when he was a high school freshman. However, he stayed closeted because in Catholic church and school he was taught being gay was "a sin." He'd often try to pray to God "take the gay away." He said he felt relief being named The Bachelor, thinking it was a sign that God was "making me straight."
Underwood appeared on the 14th season of The Bachelorette with Becca Kufrin, memorably sharing that he was a virgin in one of the early episodes. He was later The Bachelor in 2019, with his virginity being a hot topic among contestants. He ultimately picked Cassie Randolph and while they didn't get engaged on the show, they dated for a year and then split in May 2020.
After they split, Randolph filed a temporary restraining order against Underwood alleging harassment and stalking. She dropped the restraining order in November with Underwood saying in a statement that they reached a private agreement. He made it clear Randolph had reason to file.
On GMA Wednesday, he said, "I'd like to say sorry" to Randolph "for how things ended. I messed up. I made a lot of bad choices." He said his love for her was real, which he said was part of his struggle to come to terms with his sexuality.
As for what he's looking for in a man, he said he's still working through things. He's never allowed himself to have a true "emotional connection with a man. I've never allowed myself to... I want to more than anything."
Prior to being a reality TV, Underwood dated Olympic gymnast Aly Raisman. He's referred to her as his "first love," and wrote about the relationship in his 2020 book, The First Time: Finding Myself and Looking for Love on Reality TV.
GLAAD has reacted to Underwood sharing his story, with Anthony Allen Ramos, head of talent, saying in a statement: “Every LGBTQ person’s journey to discovering and accepting their authentic self is different, and Colton Underwood’s decision to share his truth with the public reminds us that there is no set timeline for coming out. 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.”
If you or someone you know are experiencing suicidal thoughts, call 911, or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text HOME to the Crisis Text Line at 741741.
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