Weeks after coming out as a gay man, Colton Underwood is continuing to talk about his decision to live authentically.
The former “Bachelor” star graces the cover of Variety’s May 12 issue and, in the accompanying interview, speaks at length about the events that led up to his emotional “Good Morning America” appearance last month in which he addressed his sexuality publicly for the first time.
The 29-year-old, who was born in Indiana and grew up in Illinois, told the publication that his publicist, Alex Spieller, was the first person he told that he was gay. That discussion, he said, took place last year after he’d received an anonymous email from someone who purportedly had obtained nude photographs of him visiting a Los Angeles spa known for catering to an LGBTQ clientele.
“I, at one point, during my rock bottom and spiral, was getting blackmailed,” Underwood said. “Nobody knows I was blackmailed. I knew that out of anybody in my world, my publicist wasn’t going to ruin me.”
His announcement, however, sparked a fair amount of backlash. Some pointed to the fact that Underwood’s ex-girlfriend Cassie Randolph had temporarily obtained a restraining order against him after accusing him of stalking her last year ― a point overlooked in much of the coverage surrounding his coming out. Others criticized him for timing his “GMA” interview to coincide with the production of a forthcoming Netflix reality series featuring Olympian Gus Kenworthy as his “gay guide.”
Regarding Randolph’s allegations, Underwood said he did not intend to “brush over and not take responsibility for my actions,” but added, “I did not physically touch or physically abuse Cassie in any way, shape or form.”
“If there was anything I could do to take more ownership, I would,” he said. “But also, out of respect to her, I don’t want to get into the details. I want this interview to be the last time I address her, because it’s not fair for her to have her name in articles every time I talk. I’m sorry, and I want her to know that I hope she has the best, most beautiful life.”
As for claims he’s “monetizing” the LGBTQ experience with his Netflix deal, Underwood pointed to his childhood years, during which he “would have done anything” to see more openly queer people in the public eye. He also urged viewers to check out the series ― which he says will emphasize other LGBTQ stories in addition to his own ― before they cast judgment.
“My dad is proud to say that he is a conservative Republican, and he is also proud to say, ‘I have a gay son,’” he said. “I think it’s important for America to hear that and see that. Right now, the media makes it seem like there is no middle ground.”
Read the full Variety interview with Colton Underwood.