(RNS) — “The Bachelor” star Colton Underwood added a new twist to his at times tortuous tenure as a reality celebrity by announcing he is gay, in an interview on ABC’s “Good Morning America” on Wednesday (April 14).
“I’ve ran from myself for a long time. I’ve hated myself for a long time,” Underwood, 29, told Robin Roberts in a pre-taped interview.
“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,” he said.
He spoke candidly about his Catholic faith and touched on having “suicidal thoughts” that led him to “take back control” of his life.
Underwood, a former football player, was first a contestant on the 14th season of “The Bachelorette” that premiered in May 2018. Before his elimination, Underwood made headlines when he revealed he was a virgin, citing his Catholic values.
It was later announced that Underwood would return in the 23rd season of “The Bachelor,” which was heavily marketed by ABC as featuring the “virgin Bachelor.”
At the end of the season, which premiered in January 2019, Underwood chose contestant Cassie Randolph, but the two wound up separating and Randolph later sought a restraining order against him. Randolph said Underwood stalked and harassed her, but she later dropped the request.
Underwood, in the “Good Morning America” interview, recalled “praying to God” and “thanking him for making me straight” when he found out he was named the season’s star. He welcomed the opportunity, he said, to marry a woman and have children, according to the interview.
In Catholic grade school, Underwood said he “learned in the Bible that gay is a sin.”
An athlete, Underwood said he would also hear people using the word “gay” as a negative connotation.
In the interview, Underwood said the tumultuous year of 2020 made people “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.”
Underwood told Roberts that revealing his truth has made him “closer to God,” acknowledging that some may not fully understand how that’s possible.
“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,” he said.
Now, Underwood said, his relationship with God isn’t “conditional.”
Christian morality has often come up in “The Bachelor” and “The Bachelorette” series.
In 2019, The Daily Beast highlighted an exchange between Hannah Brown, the lead in season 15 of “The Bachelorette,” and one of her suitors in which she said, “I have sex, and, honestly, Jesus still loves me.”
While Brown wasn’t the first Christian to appear on the show, she was “the first person the show has allowed to have religion as a main character trait on the show,” according to The Daily Beast.
A January article on Bustle explored how “America’s guiltiest pleasure” had become a hotbed for “highly Instagrammable twenty-and-thirty-something Christians.”
It quoted Kristin Du Mez, author of “Jesus and John Wayne,” who highlighted an intergenerational shift “among under-40 believers who see no friction between sex appeal and shining for Christ,” according to Bustle.
“You can draw people into Christ with brand appeal and being really cool with celebrity culture,” Du Mez told Bustle.