By Dirk Smith, M.Sc, SDL (He/Him)

Having had a successful college football career and a budding NFL career that ultimately ended with the practice squad. Colton Underwood made a name for himself as a contestant on the 14th season of The Bachelorette and became the lead on the 23rd season of the Bachelor. Both reality shows promoting the titular contestant to select a partner for marriage from a pool of contestants of the opposite gender. While he chose not to propose to his final selection, contestant Cassie Rand, the two only made it a year before splitting up. Ultimately leading to some drama involving a restraining underwood and a police investigation that was ultimately dropped.

As the pandemic hit, Underwood decided it was time to accept himself for who he was and come out of the closet. In an interview with Good Morning America, he explained.

“I’ve ran from myself for a long time. I’ve hated myself for a long time,” he told Robin Roberts. “And 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 was sort of letting people know. I’m still nervous, but yeah,” he continued. “It’s been a journey for sure.”

He went onto explain that the pandemic hitting forced him to confront his own inner self,  to be honest and to “”look at 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.” Looking back on his experience on The Bachelor, he mentions.

“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 said. “I do think I could’ve handled it better; I’ll say that.”

Further explaining his struggle with mental health and even suicidal thoughts brought on by his religious Christian upbringing where he “didn’t want to be gay” and he “learned in the Bible that gay is a sin.” He also reflected back on experiences as an athlete, hearing teammates use the word “gay” to connote negativity.

Since coming out, he has also reflected on his own personal religious views.

“I used to wake up in the morning and pray for him to take the gay away. I used to pray for him to change me,” he said, adding that his relationship with God now isn’t “conditional.”

Despite his fears in coming out, he has received a lot of positive support from his inner circle. Mostly the responses have been that they wish he had “told them sooner” particularly from his dad.

“And when I hear that, I wish I would have had faith in my friends and my family a little bit more,” he said. “The only reason I’m sitting down with you today is because I have the love and the support of my friends and my family.”

Underwood mentions he has not yet let himself have an emotional connection with someone of the same sex, he is looking forward to finding a partner. 

“I’ve never allowed myself to,” he continued. “And It’s never been sort of in my cards to let myself get there, and I want too more than anything. I’m looking for someone who can push me and challenge me in all the great ways.”

And if he had any advice for anybody who might be in a similar position as he was.

“But if I had to go back and give anybody advice, I mean, you’re gonna get through it is what I would tell myself. Keep fighting for you. Keep choosing you every morning. And when the time’s ready or when the time’s right and you’re ready, do it on your own time.” 

Photo Credit: Drinkin’ Bro’s/ Broette’s Podcast via Wikimedia Commons