Former "Bachelor" star Colton Underwood revealed that he is gay in a taped interview with "Good Morning America" anchor Robin Roberts that aired Wednesday.
"I’ve ran from myself for a long time, I’ve hated myself for a long time. And I’m gay, and I came to terms with that earlier this year, and I’ve been processing it and the next step in all of this was sort of letting people know," Underwood, 29, told Roberts.
"I’m still nervous but ... it’s been a journey for sure," he said.
Roberts remarked that "through the nerves, I can see the joy, I can see the relief."
"I’m emotional, but I’m emotional in like such a good, happy, positive way," Underwood responded. "I’m like the happiest and healthiest I’ve ever been in my life and that means the world to me."
"I'm proud to be gay," Underwood said later in the interview.
Underwood, a former football player, was first introduced to viewers in 2018 as a contestant on Becca Kufrin's season of "The Bachelorette." He then joined the cast of "Bachelor In Paradise" in Season 5, before becoming "The Bachelor" in 2019 for its 23rd season.
He had a relationship for a year and a half with a contestant he met on that season, Cassie Randolph.
After they broke up last year, Randolph filed a restraining order, accusing Underwood of stalking and harassing her, and filed a police report with claims that he had put a tracking device on her car. Later, Randolph got the restraining order dismissed and requested to drop the police investigation.
"I would like to say sorry for how things ended," Underwood said. "I messed up. I made a lot of bad choices."
Underwood said, to make matters of his sexuality more confusing, he really did love Randolph.
"If I’m being very honest, um, I loved everything about her and it’s hard for me to articulate exactly what my emotions were in going through that relationship with her was because I obviously had an internal fight going on."
"I do think I could have handled it better," he said of his time appearing on the franchise. "I just wish I hadn’t dragged people into my own mess of figuring out who I was."
"At the same time, I can 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 that if this would have ever came out."
Underwood was heavily marketed as "The Virgin Bachelor," and his virginity was a major storyline throughout his season — something that he later told Variety he believed was "overblown," but not necessarily exploited.
Ever since starring as "The Bachelor," Underwood had continued to speak about his virginity and sexuality. In an interview with Entertainment Tonight last year, he said that "The Bachelor" helped him realize that he was not gay, after struggling with his sexuality. And in a book he published in 2020, "The First Time: Finding Myself and Looking for Love on Reality TV," he revealed that growing up, people would question whether he was gay, since he was a virgin and a football player.
"One thing about being labeled 'The Virgin Bachelor' is I fully was a virgin before that and I could never give anybody a good enough answer of why I was a virgin. The truth is, I was a virgin bachelor because I was gay and I didn't know how to handle it," Underwood told Roberts.
Underwood was a tight end at Illinois State, was signed by the San Diego Chargers in 2014 as a free agent, and was on the practice squad of the Oakland Raiders and the Philadelphia Eagles.
"I literally remember praying to God the moment that I found out that I was the Bachelor, and thanking him for making me straight," Underwood said in the interview that aired Wednesday. "I remember how vividly of saying, 'Finally you’re letting me be straight, finally you’re giving me a wife, a fiancée."
He said his Catholic upbringing and athletic life made him suppress his sexuality, even though he knew he was gay in his freshman year of high school.
But now, Underwood said he is closer to God than ever before.
"And I know even saying that now as a gay man, people are going to be like 'how is that even possible?'"
"I used to wake up in the morning and pray for him to take the gay away," Underwood explained. "Now wake up and pray to God, and I can actually have faith and I can go into church and be present and not have it be conditional on this topic of take this off my plate."
In a statement, GLAAD's Head of Talent, Anthony Allen Ramos said: “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," Ramos said.
When asked if Underwood had thought about harming himself during his struggle, he said he had.
"Yeah, 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. ... Even beyond that is like even just suicidal thoughts and driving my car close to a cliff, like if this goes off the cliff it’s not that big a deal," Underwood said. "I don’t feel that anymore."
He said he's had a "range of responses" from the people he has come out to, but "the underlining most common one was, 'I wish you would have told me sooner,' and when I hear that, I wish I would have had faith in my friends and my family a little bit more."
He said his father has been overwhelmingly understanding.
"The only reason I’m sitting down with you today is that I have the love and support of my friends and my family," Underwood said.
Colton said he hasn't established an emotional connection with a man before.
"I’ve never allowed myself to, and it’s never been in my cards to let myself get there ... I want to more than anything," he said. "I’m looking for someone who can push me and challenge me in all the great ways."