‘The Bachelor’ star Colton Underwood comes out as gay, Netflix series in the works

In an interview with Good Morning America, Colton Underwood said he’s happier than he’s ever been

One of the straightest shows on TV just got a little bit queerer, after The Bachelor season 23 star Colton Underwood came out as gay on Wednesday. 

In an interview with Robin Roberts on Good Morning America, Bachelor star and former NFL tight end came out as gay, saying he’s the happiest he’s ever been.

“Obviously this year’s 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, what they’ve been running from or what they’ve been putting off in their lives,” Underwood told Roberts. “And for me, I’ve ran from myself for a long time, I’ve hated myself for a long time.

“I’m gay. And I came to terms with that earlier this year and have been processing it. And the next step in all of this is, sort of, letting people know.”

On Wednesday, Deadline reported that Underwood’s journey will be the focus of a new Netflix reality series, will involve gay Olympic skier Gus Kenworthy. 

“I’m gay. And I came to terms with that earlier this year and have been processing it. And the next step in all of this is, sort of, letting people know.”

In the interview with Roberts, Underwood detailed the “dark” place he was in his life as he grappled with coming out, but says that he’s now speaking his truth.

“I’m emotional, but I’m emotional in such a good, happy, positive way,” he said. “I’m the happiest and healthiest I’ve ever been in my life and that means the world to me.”

Underwood was the lead for the 23rd season of The Bachelor, after appearing as a contestant on both The Bachelorette and The Bachelor in Paradise. The notoriously heterosexual flagship franchise features a group of women attempting to win the heart—and, usually, the hand in marriage—of the eponymous Bachelor. It’s the epitome of “straight culture.” 

 

Underwood’s season emphasized his deep Catholic faith and virginity at the time, with advertisements and marketing promoting him as the “first virgin Bachelor.”

Besides the virginity hook, Underwood’s Bachelor season is often remembered for an episode near the end where he appears to quit production, punching a camera before literally jumping over a fence and running away into the Portugese countryside after a breakup with eventual winner Cassie Randolph.

Truly an iconic moment in reality TV. 

Underwood later returned to the show and chose Randolph as his winner, but did not end up proposing. The two continued their relationship until May 2020. In September 2020, Randolph filed a restraining order against Underwood, alleging that he stalked her, sent her harassing text messages using an anonymous number and installed a tracking device underneath her car. Randolph later dropped the restraining order. 

Prior to his reality TV career, Underwood briefly played with the NFL as a tight end, signing with the San Diego Chargers as an undrafted free agent in 2014, and later joining the practice squads of both the Oakland Raiders and Philadelphia Eagles.

When asked if he regretted “leading women on” during his appearance on The Bachelor, Underwood said he could have handled it better.

“I’ve thought a lot about this, too, of, ‘Do I regret being the Bachelor and do I regret handling it the way that I did?’ I do,” he told Roberts. “I do think I could’ve handled it better, I’ll say that.”

What comes next

Underwood says he currently does not have a partner, but his family and friends have been supportive of his coming out.

“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,” Anthony Allen Ramos, head of talent for GLAAD, told the Associated Press.

“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.”

Support for Underwood rolled in from across the internet following the announcement.

https://twitter.com/Andy/status/1382299249086455808?s=20

Comedian Billy Eichner also shared support for Underwood, along with a clip from the interview between the two where Eichner jokingly said Underwood could be “the first gay Bachelor.”

Maybe Eichner is actually the greatest prophet of our time.

However, some fans also pointed out the nuances of sharing support for Underwood’s personal journey while also acknowledging his alleged actions against Randolph.

Underwood is actually not the first Bachelor star to come out as LGBTQ2S+. Demi Burnett appeared as a contestant on Underwood’s season and was eliminated in the sixth episode. She subsequently appeared on the sixth season of The Bachelor in Paradise where she disclosed in the first episode that she was “casually” dating a woman.

Burnett’s then-girlfriend Kristian Haggerty then appeared on the program, where they continued their relationship on-air until Burnett proposed at the end of the season, marking the first same-sex relationship featured in the franchise. The two ended their relationship in October 2019.

Underwood said his coming out is ultimately about sharing his full self. 

“I’m still the same Colton everybody met on TV. I’m still the same Colton to my friends and my family, I just happen to be able to share with people now all of me,” he said. “And I am proud of that, you know? I am proud to be gay.”

Here’s hoping Underwood’s coming out paves the way for more LGBTQ2S+ representation in the longstanding dating franchise. A gay or lesbian Bachelor? Sign us up!

Senior editor Mel Woods is an English-speaking Vancouver-based writer and audio producer and a former associate editor with HuffPost Canada. A proud prairie queer and ranch dressing expert, their work has also appeared in Vice, Slate, the Tyee, the CBC, the Globe and Mail and the Walrus.

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