Colton Underwood is opening up about his decision to come out as gay. The former Bachelor star sat for a Variety cover, his first in-depth interview since coming out on Good Morning America in April, and revealed that someone threatened to blackmail him ahead of his coming out. Underwood explained that he went to a gay spa in Los Angeles “just to look,” and afterward received an anonymous email threatening to leak nude photos from the visit. Underwood said he then sent the email to his publicist, and eventually came out to him as gay. After telling Robin Roberts in his GMA interview that he had suicidal thoughts ahead of coming out as gay, Underwood further revealed to Variety that he attempted suicide in summer 2020. “That was the saddest and most confused and most hurt” that he had been, he said.
Underwood also told Variety that he struggled for years to admit he was gay. When his father found gay porn on his computer in the eighth grade, he “just said that I was curious and I was exploring and just looking.” And while The Bachelor marketed him as “the virgin Bachelor” — which he had taken issue with — Underwood now said the label didn’t tell the full story. “I was ‘the virgin Bachelor,’ but I did experiment with men prior to being on The Bachelorette,” he said, adding that he had “hookups, not sex.” He also admitted that had been on Grindr before first appearing on The Bachelorette in 2018.
Underwood also provided more details on his upcoming Netflix reality series, which was announced in conjunction with his coming out. The current series, according to Variety, came in the wake of another reality series under development last summer, after Underwood’s breakup with Bachelor contestant Cassie Randolph. That show planned to focus on the pair’s ongoing relationship as exes, but the series was scrapped after Randolph accused Underwood of stalking and filed a restraining order against him. (“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 of Randolph’s allegations.) The same production company developing the Underwood–Randolph series, Jeff Jenkins Productions, later pitched Underwood’s coming-out series.
The show has been roundly criticized for focusing on a famous white gay man like Underwood and for continuing production after Randolph’s allegations. Brandon Riegg, Netflix’s vice-president of unscripted series, told Variety that the streamer hopes “the show will help challenge outdated notions of what kind of stories can or should be at the center of entertainment.” Riegg added that “others can learn from” Underwood’s “complicated story,” saying, “We trust Colton and the producers to address it in a thoughtful way.” The series will also reportedly include footage of Underwood coming out to family and friends.