Colton Underwood has revealed that his coming out as gay was prompted by blackmail.
The former "Bachelor" star caused a stir last month when he revealed his sexual orientation to Robin Roberts in a "Good Morning America" interview. At the time he said he decided to come out because it seemed like the next step to take but, speaking with Variety, Underwood said he had no choice after receiving an anonymous email from someone threatening to release photos to the media of him secretly visiting a spa catering to gay clientele.
"I’ll just say it," Underwood said during the interview. "I, at one point, during my rock bottom and spiral, was getting blackmailed. Nobody knows I was blackmailed."
Underwood said he never saw the alleged photos of him taken in the nude. He was at the spa "just to look" and "should have never been there." Nevertheless, Underwood was forced to send the email to his publicist, Alex Spieller. After years of keeping his sexual orientation secret, Underwood finally had to have an honest conversation about being gay.
"I knew that out of anybody in my world, my publicist wasn’t going to ruin me," he added.
During his revelation on "GMA," Underwood said he had been running from his true identity for a long time.
"I've hated myself for a long time," he said. "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."
At one point, Underwood said he would have "rather died than say I'm gay,” but he finally came to a place of acceptance and knew it was time to share the news with the public.
Underwood appeared as the lead on Season 23 of "The Bachelor," during which he gave his final rose to Cassie Randolph but chose not to propose to her. They continued to date after the season wrapped up, but announced their split in 2020. Randolph then filed a restraining order against Underwood, accusing him of harassing and stalking her, but later dropped it.
Speaking with Variety, Underwood said he did not "physically touch or physically abuse Cassie in any way, shape or form."
"I never want people to think that I’m coming out to change the narrative, or to brush over and not take responsibility for my actions, and now that I have this gay life that I don’t have to address my past as a straight man," he continued. "Controlling situations to try to grasp at any part of the straight fantasy that I was trying to live out was so wrong."
Underwood declined to comment further about Randolph "out of respect to her," explaining that it was not fair to mention her in every interview.
"I’m sorry, and I want her to know that I hope she has the best, most beautiful life," he added.
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