“Obviously, like 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 or what they’ve been running from or what they’ve been putting off in their lives,” Underwood said in the pre-taped interview. “And for me, I’ve run 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 have been processing it.”
Reacting to the news in a statement on Bachelor Nation, the dating franchise’s producers released, “We are so inspired by Colton Underwood’s courage to embrace and pursue his authentic self. As firm believers in the power of love, we celebrate Colton’s journey in the LGBTQIA+ community every step of the way.”
Underwood’s announcement marks the first time a Bachelor Nation lead has come out. He revealed he thanked God for “making me straight” when he was cast.
While discussing any regrets he has for becoming the Bachelor, he admits he “could’ve handled it better.”
“I just wished I wouldn’t have dragged people into my own mess of figuring out who I was,” Underwood explained. He added, “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 if this would have ever come out.”
Underwood cited his religious upbringing and history in sports as reasons why he stayed in the closet but revealed it was the support of his friends and family that led him to go public.
Underwood Issued a Public Apology to Randolph
During the interview, Underwood issued a public apology to his ex-girlfriend and the winner of his season, Cassie Randolph.
Shortly after announcing their split last year, the speech pathologist filed a restraining order against Underwood for stalking and harassment, including placing a tracker on her car. She later had it dismissed.
“I’d like to say sorry for how things ended. I messed up, I made a lot of bad choices,” he said.
When asked by Roberts, he revealed he did love Randolph. “That only made it harder and more confusing for me. If I’m being very honest, I love everything about her,” he explained. “It’s hard for me to articulate exactly what my emotions were for her and going through that because I obviously had an internal fight going on.”
He reiterated, “I would just say that I’m sorry from the bottom of my heart. I’m sorry for any pain and emotional stress I caused. I wish it wouldn’t have happened the way it did. I wish I would’ve been courageous enough to fix myself before I broke anybody else.”
Bachelor Nation Stars Shared Their Support
“Very proud of you today,” Harrison wrote on Instagram, his first post since stepping down from the dating franchise. “Happy to see you stand up and openly live your truth. You have my love and support my friend.”
Underwood responded, “Love and appreciate you man. Means a lot.”
While many stars, such as Blake Horstmann, Nick Viall, Ashley Iaconetti, Tayshia Adams and Kufrin, liked the post, Adam Gottschalk shared “100” emojis.
His former contestant, Demi Burnett, tweeted, “Welcome to the community brother.” She was famously in the franchise’s first same-sex relationship on Bachelor in Paradise.
Another one of his contestants, Onyeka Ehie, tweeted, “Happy for @colton for speaking his truth. We support you.”
While Bekah Martinez shared in her Instagram Story “I’m really happy for him that he can finally live his truth” she did acknowledge his “traumatizing” behavior toward Randolph.
As of right now, Randolph has not addressed Underwood’s announcement.