Former Bachelor star Colton Underwood recently came out as gay in an exclusive interview with Robin Roberts on Good Morning America.
He stated that "I've ran 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. And the next step in all of this was sort of letting people know".
"I'm still nervous, but yeah," he continued. "It's been a journey for sure."
After the year that turned everyone's lives around, the Bachelor star said he finally got to a place where he could be honest with himself. As we know, 2020 was a year of self-reflection. Underwood says people need to "look at themselves in the mirror and figure out who they are and what they've been running from, or what they've been putting off in their lives."
Roberts, who is also openly gay, stated that she could notice the joy and relief in Colton. He said he was "emotional in, like such a good, happy, positive way," and is "the happiest and healthiest" he's ever been.
Going through a "dark and bad" time in the previous year, Colton finally got a "wake up call" after feeling like he "would've rather died" than say he was gay.
"There was a moment in L.A. that I woke up, and I didn't think I was gonna wake up. I didn't have the intentions of waking up. And I did."
Despite a rough year, he explained that after other "suicidal thoughts", he believed it was time to "take back control" of his life.
Colton was the star of The Bachelor in his own season and contested Becca Kufrin's season of The Bachelorette, the 14th season, in 2018. When Roberts asked him about the women from his Bachelor season and how they may feel misled, Underwood said he "would understand why they think that way".
"I've thought a lot about this too, of, 'Do I regret being the Bachelor and do I regret handling it the way that I did?' I do," he said. "I do think I could've handled it better, I'll say that."
But it was not that easy for Underwood to accept the fact, seeing that he grew up in a Catholic church. He remembered "learning in the Bible that gay is a sin".
"I think there's a lot of things. When I look back, I'm like, 'No wonder I held it in.'"
But that didn't stop him from growing "closer to God" in this revelation, even though he knows that some people will question how that's even possible for a gay man to say.
"I used to wake up in the morning and pray for him to take the gay away. I used to pray for him to change me."
Underwood said he's had "a range of responses" to his coming out. The "underlying, most common one" has been they wish he'd told them sooner, including his dad.
"And when I hear that, I wish I would have had faith in my friends and my family a little bit more. The only reason I'm sitting down with you today is because I have the love and the support of my friends and my family."
Even though he has not yet connected with someone of the same sex, he is looking forward to finding a partner and building his life.
"I've never allowed myself to. And it's never been sort of in my cards to let myself get there, and I want to more than anything. I'm looking for someone who can push me and challenge me in all the great ways.
"If I had to go back and give anybody advice, I mean, you're gonna get through it, is what I would tell myself. Keep fighting for you. Keep choosing you every morning. And when the time's ready or when the time's right and you're ready, do it on your own time."
In his season on the Bachelor in 2019, he gave his final rose to contestant Cassie Randolph but ultimately chose not to propose to her. However, the two did date after the show until announcing their breakup in early 2020.
In his interview with Roberts, Underwood apologised specifically to Randolph for "any pain and emotional stress" he caused her. He said he wishes it hadn't happened the way it did.
"I wish that I would've been courageous enough to fix myself before I broke anybody else."
These days, the former footballer is just "proud" of how far he has come. And added that "I'm still the same Colton everybody met on TV. I'm still the same Colton to my friends and my family. I just happen to be able to share with people now all of me. And I am proud of that, you know? I am proud to be gay."