Twenty-nine-year-old Colton Underwood, a former “Bachelor” contestant, has revealed that he is gay. This is the “Bachelor’s” first coming out announcement in the entire franchise.
During the past year, the reality dating show alum and former NFL player opened up about coming to terms with his sexuality.
On Wednesday, Underwood told “Good Morning America” anchor Robin Roberts that “I’ve ran from myself for a long time; I’ve hated myself for a long time.” He explained, “The next step in all of this is letting people know. I’m still nervous… It’s been a journey for sure. I’m emotional in such a good, happy, positive way. I’m the happiest and healthiest I’ve ever been in my life, and that means the world to me.”
On Instagram, Chris Harrison, the former host of the “Bachelor” series, expressed his support for Underwood.
He captioned the photo, “Very proud of you today @coltonunderwood Happy to see you stand up and openly live your truth. You have my love and support, my friend.”
The producers of the show have released a statement expressing their support for the former contestant.
“We are so inspired by Colton Underwood’s courage to embrace and pursue his authentic self,” the executive producers of “The Bachelor” said in a statement to USA TODAY. “As firm believers in the power of love, we celebrate Colton’s journey in the LGBTQIA+ community every step of the way.”
Growing up in the Catholic church and playing football (where a bad play was often called “gay” as a way of mocking the player) made it difficult for Underwood to recognize who he was, though he had an inkling that he was different by the time he was 6 years old, he told “GMA.”
He admitted that there were moments during his self-discovery that he slipped into a “dark” position and struggled with suicidal thoughts.
“I don’t feel that anymore,” Underwood said after coming to terms with who he is.
He recalled praying to God and thanking him “for making me straight” when he became the Bachelor.
Underwood said he has no regrets about being on “The Bachelor” (and claims he would not have come out if it weren’t for the franchise), but he is sorry for his behavior on the show.
“I just wish I wouldn’t have dragged people into the mess of figuring out who I was,” he said. “I had an internal fight going on. I’m sorry from the bottom of my heart and for the emotional pain it caused… I wish I would have been courageous enough to fix myself before I broke anyone else.”
He added: “I feel like I’m still learning who I am as a human being, and that’s not only my morals and my values and what I stand for, but that’s what I want out of life. It changes, and I think that’s completely OK. Now, without football, I can say yes to a million different things and not have to worry about repercussions or focusing too much energy on something else and not another thing. I think that’s the most exciting part right now. And at the same time, it’s also the most terrifying, but I’m OK with that. It’s taken a while for me to get to that stage of being aware enough to know it and bold enough to try it.”