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Former "Bachelor" star Colton Underwood comes out as gay

Former "Bachelor" star and NFL player Colton Underwood has come out as gay. The 29-year-old revealed he was gay publicly for the first time during an interview with "Good Morning America" anchor Robin Roberts that aired on Wednesday. 

"There is something that you want people to know, so can you tell us what is on your heart that you want to share?" Roberts asked Underwood. 

"For me, I've ran from myself for a long time. I've hated myself for a long time, and I'm gay," said Underwood. "And I came to terms with that earlier this year and I've been processing it. I think the next step in all of this is letting people know. I'm still nervous but, yeah, it's been a journey for sure." 

He said that being in lockdown led him to do some soul searching and to decide to publicly open up about his sexuality. 

Underwood, who was the "Bachelor" on the hit ABC dating show in 2019, also revealed he had "suicidal thoughts" in the past. "I would have rather died than say, 'I'm gay,' and I think that was sort of my wakeup call," he said. 

"There was a moment in L.A. that I woke up and I didn't think I was going to wake up," said Underwood. "I didn't have the intentions of waking up and I did. I think for me that was my wake-up call, of 'This is your life. Take back control.'"

The former tight end played in the NFL from 2014 to 2016. He is now one of the few openly gay former NFL players.

In his book, "The First Time: Finding Myself and Looking for Love on Reality TV," Underwood opened up about his virginity and how he had once questioned whether or not he was gay. In a 2020 interview with "Entertainment Tonight," Underwood spoke about the book and said being on "The Bachelor" made him believe he was straight. After his season of "The Bachelor," Underwood had a year-and-a-half-long relationship with contestant Cassie Randolph.

The show taught him "that I'm straight and I'm very, very attracted to Cassie and women — but it would have been OK if it would have been the other way too," he said last year. 

During his interview with Roberts, Underwood also opened up about his time on "The Bachelorette" as a contestant and his time on "The Bachelor" as the lead. After revealing on the shows he was a virgin, Underwood said he saw headlines about him being closeted or "doing this for attention."

"I do think I could have handled it better. I just wish I wouldn't have dragged people into my own mess of figuring out who I was," he said about dating women on the show. "I genuinely mean that. But I also at the same time, I can sit here and say, 'I'm sorry' to all those women. I can also sit here and say, 'Thank you.' Because without them, and without 'The Bachelor' franchise, I don't know that this would have ever came out."

Underwood also said that after finding out he was going to be the Bachelor, he prayed to God, "thanking him for making me straight." 

"I remember that vividly, saying, 'Finally, you're letting me be straight,'" Underwood said. However, Underwood said he knew he was "different" since he was six, and realized as a freshman in high school that he was gay. 

Now, Underwood said he would like to apologize to Randolph, whom he dated until last May. "I would like to say sorry for how things ended. I messed up. I made a lot of bad choices," Underwood told Roberts. He said being in love with Randolph made it harder and more confusing. 

"I loved everything about her," he said. "It's hard for me to articulate what my emotions are for her and what going through that relationship was because I obviously had an internal fight going on."

"I would just say that I'm sorry from the bottom of my heart," Underwood continued. "I'm sorry for bringing pain and emotional stress I caused. I wish it wouldn't have happened the way it did. I wish I would have been courageous enough to fix myself before I broke anybody else." 

In the interview, Underwood said that opening up about being gay has led him to a better place in life. "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." 

"I got to a place in my personal life that was dark and bad and I can list a bunch of different things, but they'd all be excuses," he said. "I think overall the reason why now is because I got to a place where I didn't think I was ever going to share this." 

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