During much of the interview, Underwood’s voice was trembling.
“Through the nerves, I can see the joy. I can see the relief,” Roberts said.
“I’m emotional, but I’m emotional in such a good, happy, positive way," he said. "I’m like the happiest and healthiest I’ve ever been in my life and that means the world to me.”
Underwood, 29, is a former football player who first appeared on ABC’s long-running reality franchise as a contestant on Becca Kufrin’s season of “The Bachelorette” in 2018 and followed it up with a stint on “Bachelor in Paradise.” When Underwood was cast as the lead of “The Bachelor,” the network marketed him as the first virgin Bachelor in the show’s history — and producers fixated on his sex life.
Last year, Underwood published a book titled “The First Time” and wrote about how he questioned his sexuality as a teenager. Rumors circulated around school that he was gay, and he said he eventually started to believe it. “I thought, maybe I am gay. The captain of the football team should be having sex and drinking, right? But I wasn’t,” he wrote. “In high school, when I was struggling with my sexuality, I’m not going to talk to my parents about it. So I internalized it.”
On “Good Morning America,” Underwood said he was in denial for a long time, especially after he grew up in the Catholic church and “learned in the Bible that being gay was a sin” and had similar negative connotations in the sports world. When he was cast on “The Bachelor,” he said, “I literally remember praying to God the morning I found out … and thanking him for making me straight.”
Ultimately, he decided to come out because he reached a point in which he had suicidal thoughts and realized “I would have rather died than say ‘I’m gay,’ and I think that was sort of my wake-up call.”
“I was like, ‘This is your life. Take back control,’ ” Underwood said. He said when he came out to his friends and family, they were all very supportive.
Underwood was famously the bachelor who jumped over a fence and tried to flee the show because he was so devastated that Cassie Randolph, the contestant that he planned to propose to at the end of the season, said she didn’t want to get engaged. Underwood begged her to reconsider, and she agreed to give their relationship a chance.
While that series of events was portrayed on TV as bold and romantic, it was cast in a dark light a year later after the couple broke up and Randolph filed a restraining order against Underwood. According to reports, Randolph alleged that he put a tracking device on her car, sent her “alarming” text messages and lurked outside her apartment and her parents’ home.
Several months later, Randolph dropped the restraining order after the two “reached a private agreement,” Underwood said at the time. As rumors flew Tuesday night about what Underwood’s announcement on “Good Morning America” might be, quite a few “Bachelor” fans were upset that ABC was giving Underwood a national platform.
“I would like to say sorry for how things ended. I messed up. I made a lot of bad choices,” Underwood said when Roberts asked if he would like to address Randolph. He said he genuinely was in love with her.
“It not only made it harder and more confusing for me, if I’m being very honest. 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 … because I obviously had an internal fight going on,” he said. “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 that I would have been courageous enough to fix myself before I broke anybody else.”
Roberts also asked Underwood what he would say to “Bachelor” fans who feel “misled.”
“I just wish I wouldn’t have dragged people into my own mess of figuring out who I was. I genuinely mean that,” Underwood said. “But I can sit here and say I’m sorry to all those women and can also say thank you, because without them and without ‘The Bachelor’ franchise, I don’t know if, like, this would have ever came out.”
Coming out to his family and friends has made him feel closer to God, Underwood said. And when Roberts asked what kind of partner Underwood is looking for, he admitted that he still has a lot to work through. “I still haven’t had an emotional connection with a man,” he said. “I’m looking for someone who can push me and challenge me in all the right ways.”
On Wednesday, the executive producers of “The Bachelor” released a statement saying: “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.”
To other young people who might be struggling to come out, Underwood offered this guidance: “When the time is right and you’re ready, do it on your own time.”