UPDATE April 14, 2021: Colton Underwood now says he’s gay. The former NFL prospect, who had practice squad stints with the Philadelphia Eagles and Oakland Raiders, shared on GMA that he is in fact gay, after saying last year that he wasn’t gay. He was the lead of The Bachelor in 2019, allegedly looking for a wife. Now he’s looking for a boyfriend. “I’ve ran from myself for a long time; I’ve hated myself for a long time,” Underwood told Robin Roberts. Words almost every LGBTQ person can understand.

He also said that coming out now, he’s the happiest he’s ever been. More words we can all understand.

Reports are that a docuseries following Underwood as he navigates his early days of gay life will air on Netflix. Out gay skier Gus Kenworthy is reportedly involved.

PREVIOUS POST April 2, 2020: When people hear about Colton Underwood’s journey to being straight, a lot of people will roll their eyes and say “gay gay gay.”

The Bachelor contestant and former college football player and NFL prospect reportedly opens up in a new book about being a virgin in his 20s and questioning for years whether he’s gay. He said that it was finding romance on The Bachelor that he finally realized — after 27 years — that he’s straight. He’s currently dating Cassie Randolph, one of the female contestants on the show.

From Entertainment Tonight:

“[The show taught me] that I’m straight and I’m very, very attracted to Cassie [Randolph] and women — but it would have been OK if it would have been the other way too,” he admitted. “I think that’s the biggest message I have for people.”

I can relate to Underwood. I struggled with my sexual orientation for many years, also in my teens and early 20s. I dated women — two of them seriously — yet kept my virginity because of my religious teachings as a kid.

Underwood pointed to a couple factors as to why he didn’t explore his sexual orientation as a kid, namely a conservative religious upbringing and the macho attitude of sports. Underwood played football through high school, then for Illinois State before bouncing around practice squads of the Raiders, Chargers and Eagles for a few seasons.

When he was in the NFL, Underwood claimed he was quickly asked how many women he’d had sex with, elevating the pressure he felt to BE STRAIGHT DUDE!!

While I never played in the NFL or competed on a TV dating show, his story is a lot like mine in many ways.

Yet it’s how the story “ends” where we’re most similar, even though we made two very different ultimate discoveries.

It was his love for Cassie Randolph that he realized he’s straight, and it was my falling in love with another athlete when I was 22 that I realized I was gay.

“Straight” and “gay” of course are the labels we’ve chosen to use to describe where we are in life. At the end of the day, we’ve each found ourselves sexually interested in people of all sexes. There are lots of different ways to describe that — the Kinsey scale illustrates it well.

Underwood’s sexual journey is as far as he’s concerned — just like mine — complete.

Over the last 15 years we’ve seen WNBA superstar Sheryl Swoopes go through this journey in a very public way, and for the very same reasons. She found herself falling in love with another woman and concluding that she was gay, ultimately falling out of that relationship into a marriage with a man she now loves.

I always appreciated something Swoopes said when she first came out that angered a lot of people in the LGBTQ community:

“I don’t think I was born [gay],” Swoopes told me in 2005. “Again, it was a choice. As I got older, once I got divorced, it wasn’t like I was looking for another relationship, man or woman. I just got feelings for another woman. I didn’t understand it at the time, because I had never had those feelings before.”

That choice, she meant, was to open her heart and mind to the possibility of finding attraction to people of various genders. She wasn’t “born gay,” she was just born Sheryl, and her life has led her down a winding path.

Underwood will forever deal with people claiming he’s gay because he searched for gay porn as a teenager, and he questioned his attraction to men and why he didn’t want to have sex with women. That’s the culture we have lived in for generations: If you don’t profess to be a 100% full-time straight dude, you must be gay.

Yet times are changing, and it’s refreshing to see a guy like Underwood be so open about this. More and more men are falling into this category of maybe no sexual fluidity, but a willingness to share a journey that is looking more and more common for men today.