Colton Underwood is opening up about his journey to accept his sexuality. The former Bachelor, who came out last month as gay on Good Morning America, spoke candidly to Variety in a new feature about growing up afraid and ashamed of his sexuality and how becoming the star of such a hetero-focused reality show ultimately led to where he is today.
Underwood's 2019 season of the ABC dating show marketed him as the "virgin bachelor," but he revealed to Variety that he "did experiment" with men before appearing on Becca Kufrin's season of The Bachelorette. While he was a virgin while starring on the ABC show, Underwood said he joined Grindr under an alias in 2016 or 2017. "When I say 'hookups,' not sex," Underwood explained. "I want to make that very clear that I did not have sex with a man, prior to that."
Coming out so publicly ended up not being Underwood's choice, as the former NFL player shared that he was "getting blackmailed" during his "rock bottom and spiral" after someone who saw him at a spa known for catering to gay clientele emailed him threatening to "out" him in the press. Underwood forwarded the email to his publicist in a panic, and it's how he came to make his sexuality such a public affair on GMA.
Underwood also wanted to clear the air when it came to ex-girlfriend Cassie Randolph, whom he met on his season of The Bachelor. The two split in 2020, and Randolph would soon after take out a restraining order against Underwood, alleging he stalked her a placed a tracking device on her car. The reality personality wanted to clear up that he "did not physically touch or physically abuse Cassie in any way, shape or form," but was limited as to what he could say about the situation due to a joint agreement they had come from.
"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 said. "Controlling situations to try to grasp at any part of the straight fantasy that I was trying to live out was so wrong."
Underwood said it was after Randolph broke up with him that he went to "such a dark place" because he knew deep down he would have to face his true sexuality. "It's not who I am as a human being, and it's not how I carry myself," he apologized to Randolph and her family. "If there was anything I could do to take more ownership, I would. But also, out of respect to her, I don't want to get into the details. I want this interview to be the last time I address her because it's not fair for her to have her name in articles every time I talk. I'm sorry, and I want her to know that I hope she has the best, most beautiful life."