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Colton Underwood isn't finished opening up on his journey.
Close to one month after publicly coming out as a gay man, the Bachelor Nation member is sharing new details about his experience in the LGBTQ+ community. He's also reflecting on his season as "The Virgin Bachelor."
In a new interview with Variety, Colton explained that he had a few sexual experiences with men before joining ABC's reality show franchise.
"I'll say this. I was ‘the Virgin Bachelor,' but I did experiment with men prior to being on The Bachelorette," he explained. "When I say ‘hookups,' not sex. I want to make that very clear that I did not have sex with a man, prior to that."
At the same time, the former NFL player always wondered if a man he hooked up with would share his story with the tabloids. "I remember feeling so guilty, like, ‘What the hell am I doing?'" Colton recalled of his encounters. "It was my first time letting myself even go there, so much so that I was like, ‘I need The Bachelorette in my life, so I could be straight.'"
Colton first entered the world of reality TV when he appeared on Becca Kufrin's season of The Bachelorette. While serving as the lead of The Bachelor, Colton found love with Cassie Randolph. They dated for a year and a half before breaking up in May 2020.
"Out of respect to her, I don't want to get into the details," he shared with Variety in his latest interview. "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 what pushed Colton to finally come out publicly and share his story with Good Morning America's Robin Roberts, the reality star said the confession was prompted partly out of fear.
"I'll just say it," he told the publication. "I, at one point, during my rock bottom and spiral, was getting blackmailed. Nobody knows I was blackmailed."
According to Variety, Colton shared a story of visiting a Los Angeles spa in 2020 that was known for catering to gay clientele. After his visit, Colton said he received an anonymous email, which was reviewed by Variety, from someone claiming to have taken nude photos of him at the venue.
Colton forwarded the email to his publicist and was forced to have an honest conversation about his sexuality.
In addition to his interview on Good Morning America, the 29-year-old author is in the middle of filming a Netflix reality show about his life as a now-openly gay man. With the support of his family, Colton is hopeful his story will help at least one person feel less alone.
"I know people are saying that this story has been told, but I grew up in Central Illinois," Colton reflected. "I had never seen a football player that had made it to the NFL that had been gay, growing up Catholic. I've had hundreds of gay Christian men and women who are confused in their walk with Jesus say, ‘I felt closer to God when I came out.'"
He added, "My dad is proud to say that he is a conservative Republican, and he is also proud to say, I have a gay son. I think it's important for America to hear that and see that."
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