Two years ago, Colton Underwood was cast as the hunky star of the hyper-masculine fairytale dating show, “The Bachelor.”
Today, the reality star came out as gay, sharing his true and authentic self with the world.
In conversation with Robin Roberts on “Good Morning America,” Underwood — a former pro football player who grew up in a conservative, Catholic community — reflected on how the show impacted his identity with his sexuality.
“I literally remember praying to God the morning I found out that I was ‘The Bachelor’ and thanking Him for making me straight,” Underwood said. “I remember that vividly, of saying, ‘Finally, you’re letting me be straight. Finally, you’re giving me a wife, a fiancée, and then I’m going to have the kids, then I’m going to have the house, and then I’m going to have all this.’”
When Underwood starred on “The Bachelor” in 2019, he was heavily promoted as “The Virgin Bachelor” — something that he later told Variety he believed was “overblown,” but not necessarily exploited.
On Wednesday morning, speaking his full truth, Underwood explained, “I could never give anybody a good enough answer about why I was a virgin. The truth is I was the ‘Virgin Bachelor’ because I was gay, and I didn’t know how to handle it.”
In support of Underwood coming out, the executive producers of “The Bachelor” franchise released a statement on Wednesday.
“We are so inspired by Colton Underwood’s courage to embrace and pursue his authentic self,” the statement reads. “As firm believers in the power of love, we celebrate Colton’s journey in the LGBTQIA+ community every step of the way.”
“The Bachelor” franchise has recently come under fire for a racist scandal that swirled around recent contestant, Rachael Kirkconnell, who won Matt James’ season of “The Bachelor” last month. Longtime host Chris Harrison apologized for commentary defending Kirkconnell that “perpetuates racism,” and ultimately, in a firestorm of controversy, Harrison announced he would be stepping aside from the franchise for a period of time.
Ever since the widespread controversy, Harrison has not posted onto his social media platforms, other than his apology statements. On Wednesday, he broke his silence to lend support to Underwood, writing on his Instagram, “Very proud of you today…Happy to see you stand up and openly live your truth…You have my love and support my friend.”
In a column, published Wednesday by Variety, titled “The Power of Colton Underwood’s Coming Out,” chief TV critic Daniel D’Addario wrote, “It’s somewhat hard to see how this story fits into the narrative of a show that prizes heterosexuality and tidy endings. This story has the unexpectedness and catharsis of real life, not of a made-for-TV coupling, and ‘The Bachelor’ is the last franchise I’d expect to handle further developments in Underwood’s story with proportion or good taste. As its struggles with racism against Black competitors have shown, its retrograde fantasy flounders when attempting real inclusivity; better for them to let this story alone.”
Harrison’s permanent role with the franchise’s future remains unclear, though he will be sitting out the upcoming season of “The Bachelorette,” which is currently in production and set to premiere in early June. The season will instead be co-hosted by former “Bachelorette” stars Tayshia Adams and Kaitlyn Bristowe, marking the first time Harrison has ever been absent from a season.
Adams was a runner-up on Underwood’s season. On Wednesday, she tweeted to celebrate her ex, writing, “I am so proud of you for finally being able to share and live your truth. Sending you love and support!”
During the “GMA” interview, Underwood addressed dating women on the reality show. “Do I regret being ‘The Bachelor’ and handling it the way that I did?” he said to Roberts. “I do think I could have handled it better, I’ll say that. I just wish I wouldn’t have dragged people into my own mess of figuring out who I was. I genuinely mean that, but also at the same time I can 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 have ever come out.”
After Underwood’s interview, a clip from his season of “The Bachelor” featuring Billy Eichner went viral on Twitter. Eichner appeared on the show to lead a group date, telling Underwood: “I’m gay. I know that’s a shock, Colton. And that I think you should look into. Maybe you’re the first gay ‘Bachelor’ and we don’t even know!”
In response to the clip going viral, Eichner tweeted: “I’m happy for @colton. If you’re gay, be gay! I’ve been gay forever & I love it!”
I’m happy for @colton. If you’re gay, be gay! I’ve been gay forever & I love it! https://t.co/vuDWy7HVap
— billy eichner (@billyeichner) April 14, 2021
While Underwood’s interview has received overwhelming support with many prominent figures like Bravo’s Andy Cohen and “Schitt’s Creek’s” Dan Levy praising the reality star, social media has been buzzing with many questioning Underwood’s relationship with his ex-girlfriend, “Bachelor” contestant Cassie Randolph, who filed a restraining order and a police report with stalking allegations after the couple broke up in 2020. (Randolph later dismissed the restraining order and requested to drop the police investigation.)
During the interview, Underwood briefly addressed Randolph, saying, “I would like to say sorry for how things ended… I messed up, I made a lot of bad choices.”
Randolph has not commented yet on Underwood’s interview.
In light of Underwood coming out, GLAAD noted the magnitude of the moment, applauding Underwood for sharing his story and being a role model to help shift perspectives regarding religion and sexuality.
“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,” said GLAAD‘s head of talent, Anthony Allen Ramos. “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.”