Like a lot of people, Colton Underwood felt a sense of relief when he came out publicly in April. However, very few people know one of the main (and dark) reasons The Bachelor alum and former NFL player decided to come out when he did. Underwood told Variety he had been blackmailed with naked pictures allegedly taken at a gay spa, and the crook threatened to expose his secret to the media if he didn't pay up.
"I'll just say it," Underwood told Variety. "I, at one point, during my rock bottom and spiral, was getting blackmailed. Nobody knows I was blackmailed."
Underwood explained he had visited a well-known gay spa in the Los Angeles area last year. Not long after the visit he received an anonymous email threatening to expose naked pictures secretly taken at the unnamed spa. Underwood claimed he was only at the spa "just to look," but he feared what would happen if the anonymous blackmailer went to the press.
He finally forwarded the email to his publicist, Alex Spieller, who helped Underwood deal with not just the blackmail threat, but his sexual orientation in general. Underwood figured if anyone had his back, it would be his publicist, and he was right. Coming out and coming forward turned out to be the right answer to dealing with both the blackmailer and his own sexuality.
"Obviously this year's been a lot for a lot of people, and it's probably made a lot of people look 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," Underwood told Robin Roberts on GMA. "For me, I've ran from myself for a long time and I've hated myself for a long time, and I'm gay."
Underwood first appeared as a contestant on The Bachelor in 2018's season 14, and later appeared on Bachelor in Paradise season 4 before leading The Bachelor's season 23 the following year. He was marketed as the "virgin Bachelor" and did not propose to Cassie Randolph even after giving her his final rose. Randolph later accused Underwood of stalking her. She filed and later dropped a restraining order against her former onscreen paramour.
"It's not who I am as a human being, and it's not how I carry myself," Underwood said of the what happened post breakup, underlining that he never physically abbused Randolph. "If there was anything I could do to take more ownership, I would. 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."
Variety reports that his new Netflix deall came in part as a result of the breakup. The exes were originally filming a reality show together as they developed a relationship as friends but that project was dropped once the restraining order came into play. The same production company, Jeff Jenkins Productions, pitched him on the idea of a show about his coming out experience after they learned of it
The new series about his coming out will include video of Underwood doing just that with his family. Colton's father, Scott Underwood, said he understands the importance of the new show.
"If it just helps a few young men and women come out and be proud of themselves and understand that all parents aren't going to be upset, it can save lives," he said.