Colton Underwood was mostly celebrated when he publicly came out as gay last month on national television. It turns out that he didn't exactly come out on his own terms.
The former "Bachelor" star said he was "blackmailed."
In a chat with Variety, Colton indicated that he knew he was attracted to men in his early teen years, but hid it. Last year, he told his publicist the truth about his sexuality. No one else apparently knew… Well, almost no one else.
"I'll just say it," he told Variety. "I, at one point, during my rock bottom and spiral, was getting blackmailed. Nobody knows I was blackmailed."
The reality TV star explains that he was at a Los Angeles spa that was known to cater to gay clientele. His visit, he said, was "just to look" around and he added he "should have never been there."
After that visit, Colton says he got an anonymous email, and the sender claimed to have nude photos of him at the venue. The person threatened to "out" him. As fear set in, Colton forwarded the email to his publicist.
"I knew that out of anybody in my world, my publicist wasn't going to ruin me," he said.
Not long before, the 29-year-old former NFL player said he was in a dark place, largely because of his life as a closeted gay man. He took pills. A lot of them.
"I tried to end my life, and it didn't work," he says. "That was the saddest and most confused and most hurt" he'd ever been.
During the two-hour interview, Colton said he had a secret Grindr profile and experimented with men prior to joining Bachelor Nation, which was something he hid. Colton's sexual experiences, of course, went on to become a huge topic on the show after he revealed that he was a virgin.
"I was 'the Virgin Bachelor,' but I did experiment with men prior to being on 'The Bachelorette,'" he said. "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."
He was always worried that one of the men he hooked up with would come forward.
"I remember feeling so guilty, like 'What the hell am I doing?'" he said of his gay hookups. "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's next act: a Netflix reality show about his coming out to his family and friends.
"My dad is proud to say that he is a conservative Republican, and he is also proud to say, I have a gay son," Colton says. "I think it's important for America to hear that and see that. Right now, the media makes it seem like there is no middle ground."