In the interview, Underwood, who is also a former pro football player, was emotional revealing the truths he learned about himself during quarantine.
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“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. For me, I’ve ran from myself for a long time and I’ve hated myself for a long time, and I’m gay. I came to terms with that earlier this year and have been processing it,” Underwood told Roberts. “The next step in all of this was sort of letting people know. I’m still nervous, but it’s been a journey for sure.”
“I’m emotional, but I’m emotional in such a good, happy, positive way,” he continued. “I’m, like, the happiest and healthiest I’ve ever been in my life. That means the world to me.”
When Roberts asked what brought him the courage to come out, Underwood said, “I got into a place in my personal life that was dark and bad. I can list a bunch of different things, but they’d all be excuses. 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. I would rather have died than say ‘I’m gay,’ and I think that was sort of my wake up call.”
Roberts then asked if Underwood ever thought about harming himself during this process.
“There was a moment in L.A. that I woke up and I didn’t think I was going to wake up,” he said. “I didn’t have the intentions of waking up, and I did. And I think for me that was my wake up call, that, ‘This is your life. Take back control.’ I think looking back even beyond that is… even just suicidal thoughts and driving my car close to a cliff, like, ‘Oh, if this goes off the cliff, it’s not that big of a deal.’ I don’t feel that anymore.”
Underwood then addressed being on “The Bachelor” and questions fans and the women he dated might have about that season.
“I thought a lot about this… Do I regret being ‘The Bachelor’? And handling it the way that I did?” he said. “I do think I could have handled it better, I’ll say that. I just wish I wouldn’t have dragged people into my own mess of figuring out who I was. I genuinely mean that, but also at the same time I can say ‘I’m sorry’ to all of those women, I can also say ‘thank you,’ because without them and without the ‘Bachelor’ franchise, I don’t know if this would have ever come out.”
Underwood was first introduced to viewers in 2018, as a contestant on Becca Kufrin’s season of “The Bachelorette.” He then joined the cast of “Bachelor in Paradise” Season 5, before becoming “The Bachelor” in 2019 for its 23rd season.
Underwood was heavily marketed as “The Virgin Bachelor,” and his virginity was a major storyline throughout his season — something that he later told Variety he believed was “overblown,” but not necessarily exploited.
Addressing the “Virgin Bachelor” status in this interview, Underwood said plainly, “I fully was a virgin before that, and I could never give anybody a good enough answer about why I was a virgin. The truth is I was the ‘Virgin Bachelor’ because I was gay, and I didn’t know how to handle it.”
Ever since starring as “The Bachelor,” Underwood had continued to speak about his virginity and sexuality. In an interview last year, he said that “The Bachelor” helped him realize that he was not gay, after struggling with his sexuality. And in a book he published in 2020, “The First Time: Finding Myself and Looking for Love on Reality TV,” he revealed that growing up, people would question whether he was gay, since he was a virgin and a football player.
He spoke to Roberts about how getting cast on the show, combined with his religious background, further confused his journey.
“I literally remember praying to God the morning I found out that I was ‘The Bachelor’ and thanking Him for making me straight,” he said. “I remember that vividly, of saying, ‘Finally, you’re letting me be straight. Finally, you’re giving me a wife, a fiancée, and then I’m going to have the kids, then I’m going to have the house, and then I’m going to have all this.’ I’ve known that I’ve been different since the age of six, and I couldn’t process it and put my finger on it until high school, my freshman year, when I knew I was gay. And by that time I had already grown up in the Catholic church, I have gone to Catholic grade school, I learned in the Bible that gay is a sin. I had made mistakes in my sports and in my athletic career, and when you make mistakes, ‘that play was gay’ or that was a bad… gay was always affiliated with a connotation of negativity, and I think there’s a lot of things when I look back, like, ‘No wonder I held it in.'”
Underwood said he’s received plenty of love and support from friends and family after coming out.
“I’ve had sort of a range of responses,” he said. “The underlining, most common one was, ‘I wish you would have told me sooner.’ And when I hear that, I wish I would have had faith in my friends and family a bit more.”
Underwood was a tight end at Illinois State, was signed by the San Diego Chargers as a free agent in 2014, and was on the practice squad of the Oakland Raiders and Philadelphia Eagles.
In an interview with Variety last year, Underwood spoke about his struggle with his sexuality growing up, explaining, “It was challenging for me to be standing up for my values and my beliefs, and looking back now, growing up in sort of a hyper-masculine culture as football or a conservative family…I always felt like I was on the defense. It was one of those things when you hear it so often and so much, you start believing it or you start questioning things. It really did affect me and it really was a weird time in my life, and I internalized a lot of it because I had nobody to talk to and nobody to vent to about it.”
In the years following his time on “The Bachelor,” Underwood has stayed in the headlines, not only for his commentary about his own sexuality, but also for personal legal matters between him and his ex-girlfriend, Cassie Randolph, the contestant he met on the reality show with whom he was in a relationship for a year-and-a-half. After breaking up in 2020, Randolph filed a restraining order, accusing Underwood of stalking and harassing her, and filed a police report with claims that he had put a tracking device on her car. Later, Randolph dismissed the restraining order against Underwood and requested to drop the police investigation.
Underwood addressed the relationship in the interview.
“I would like to say sorry for how things ended,” he said. “I messed up, I made a lot of bad choices.”
Confirming to Roberts that he was indeed in love with Randolph, he continued, saying, “That only made it harder and more confusing for me. if I’m being very honest, I loved everything about her. And it’s hard for me to articulate exactly what my emotions were, and going through that relationship with her was, because I obviously had an internal fight going on. I would just say that I’m sorry from the bottom of my heart. I’m sorry for any pain and emotional stress I caused. I wish it wouldn’t have happened the way it did. I wish that I would have been courageous enough to fix myself before I broke anybody else.”
Roberts, one of the most prominent broadcasters of all time, was a seamless fit to speak with Underwood. Like Underwood, Roberts is deeply familiar with the sports world, having joined “GMA” after a star-making career as a sports anchor and a long tenure at ESPN. She was inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in 2012, and has been honored for her stature as a LGBTQ leader, ever since coming out in a 2013 Facebook post, where she acknowledged her longtime partner, Amber Laign.
Watch part of Underwood’s “Good Morning America” interview below:
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