Colton Underwood, The Bachelor season 23’s leading man and a prominent figure in the franchise, has come out as gay. Underwood revealed his truth on Wednesday morning during a pre-taped interview with Robin Roberts on GMA, a decision he says was inspired by a year of reflection throughout the pandemic. “Obviously, this year has been a lot for a lot of people, and it’s probably made a lot of people look themselves in the mirror and figure out who they are and what they’ve been running from or what they’ve been putting off in their lives. For me, I’ve ran from myself for a long time. I’ve hated myself for a long time. And I’m gay,” he explained. “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 yeah, it’s been a journey for sure.”
Underwood said that numerous “dark and bad” things plagued his personal life over the past year, which contributed to his decision to make his sexuality public. He also knew that he was “different since the age of 6” in terms of being gay. “I got to a place where I never thought I would share this. I would have rather died than said, ‘I’m gay,’ and I think that was my wake-up call,” he explained, adding that he had suicidal thoughts in 2020. “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.’”
When asked by Roberts if he believes he misled the women who competed for his love on The Bachelor, Underwood admitted that he regretted ever appearing in the franchise, which he started doing in 2018 as a contestant on The Bachelorette. “I would understand why they would think that why. I think a lot about, do I regret being the Bachelor and do I regret handling it the way I did? I do. I do think I could have handled it better,” he said. “I just wish I wouldn’t have dragged people into my own mess of figuring out who I was. I genuinely mean that. I can also sit here and say I’m sorry to all of those women. I can also say thank you, because without them and without the Bachelor franchise, I don’t know if this would’ve ever came out.” He added, “I remember praying to God the morning I found out I was the Bachelor and letting him be straight.”
Underwood and his Bachelor season’s winner, Cassie Randolph, split last summer after two years of dating. Last September, after their breakup, Randolph alleged that Underwood was “stalking and harassing” her, and she obtained a temporary restraining order against him. Randolph proceeded to drop the temporary restraining order in November. “I would like to say sorry with how things ended. I messed up. I made a lot of bad choices,” Underwood said about Randolph. “And that only made it harder and more confusing for me. I loved everything about her. And that only made it harder and more confusing for me. I’m sorry for the pain and emotional stress I caused. I wish it wouldn’t have happened the way it did. I wish that I would have been courageous enough to fix myself before I broke anybody else.”
Underwood previously alluded to his sexuality in his memoir, The First Time, which was released in March 2020. One particular anecdote revealed that he began to consider if he was interested in men in elementary school, which led him to search “Am I gay?” on the internet. This struggle with his sexuality continued as he grew older, with Underwood remaining a virgin up to his Bachelor season, which became the underlying theme of his season.