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Former Bachelor Colton Underwood Says He Was 'Blackmailed' Before Coming Out as Gay

·4 min read
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One year before Colton Underwood publicly came out as gay on Good Morning America, the reality star says someone threatened to "out" him.

In a Variety cover story published Wednesday, the former Bachelor, 29, opened up for the first time about what led to him to initially disclose his sexuality to his publicist last year. "I'll just say it. I, at one point, during my rock bottom and spiral, was getting blackmailed," he told the publication. "Nobody knows I was blackmailed."

While living in Los Angeles, the former NFL player secretly visited a spa known for catering to gay clientele. Following the visit, he said he received an email from an anonymous sender who claimed to have taken nude photos Underwood at the spa and threatened to "out" him in the media.

Underwood, who claimed to have never seen the alleged images, said he visited the spa "just to look" but that he "should have never been there." In a panic, the Bachelor in Paradise alum forwarded the email to his publicist, Alex Spieller.

"I knew that out of anybody in my world, my publicist wasn't going to ruin me," he said.

RELATED: Colton Underwood Is 'Relieved' After Coming Out as Gay and 'Focused on the Future,' Source Says

Colton Underwood for Variety
Colton Underwood for Variety

Matt Sayles for Variety

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Underwood came out as gay during a Good Morning America interview with Robin Roberts that aired on April 14. "I've ran from myself for a long time. I've hated myself for a long time," he told Roberts, 60, at the 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, it's been a journey, for sure."

Underwood, as fans know, previously dated Cassie Randolph, the finalist from his 2019 season of The Bachelor. They announced their split last May. In September, Randolph, 26, filed for a restraining order against Underwood after he allegedly stalked and harassed her, though she dropped the charges in November.

Though Underwood is prohibited from discussing the details of the situation due to a joint agreement with Randolph, he told Variety that he "did not physically touch or physically abuse Cassie in any way, shape or form."

"I never want people to think that I'm coming out to change the narrative, or to brush over and not take responsibility for my actions, and now that I have this gay life that I don't have to address my past as a straight man," he said. "Controlling situations to try to grasp at any part of the straight fantasy that I was trying to live out was so wrong."

RELATED: Cassie Randolph Didn't Know Ex Colton Underwood Was Gay, Says Source — 'She's Still Processing'

Colton Underwood
Colton Underwood

JC Olivera/WireImage

Underwood, who previously dated Aly Raisman and was briefly linked to Lucy Hale, told the magazine he was in "such a dark place" after his split from Randolph because he knew he'd finally have to confront his truth.

"It's not who I am as a human being, and it's not how I carry myself," he said, apologizing for his behavior toward her and her family. "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," he added. "I'm sorry, and I want her to know that I hope she has the best, most beautiful life."

Randolph has not directly addressed the news of her ex coming out, though she thanked followers for their support in a vlog posted on her YouTube channel last month.

"I just wanted to let you know that I'm not going to be further discussing it or commenting on it for now," she said. "There's a lot of layers to it, and I just think the best thing for me at this time is to move forward and just focus on going forward."

A source also recently told PEOPLE that Randolph has been dating musician Brighton Reinhardt for a few months and is "really happy."