The former ABC star, 29, sat down with host Robin Roberts in the “deeply personal” segment released on Wednesday, April 14, and finally said what has been in his “heart” following his leading role on season 23 of the hit dating show.
“This year’s been a lot for a lot of people and it’s probably made a lot of people look at themselves in the year and figure out who they are,” he shared. “I’ve ran from myself for a long time, I’ve hated myself for a long time. I’m gay. I came to terms with that earlier this year, and the next step in all of this was sort of letting people know. … I’m the happiest and healthiest I’ve ever been in my life. That means the world to me.”
He revealed that he got into a “dark” place in his personal life and admitted to making mistakes. “I got to a place where I didn’t think I would ever say this. I would have rather died than say I’m gay.”
Underwood said it’s taken some time to get to the point where he was ready to talk about it with the world. “It’s been a journey, for sure,” the Indiana native added.
The former NFL player first appeared as a contestant on Becca Kufrin’s season of The Bachelorette in 2018. He was later announced to be the Bachelor for the show’s 23rd season, where he found love with now-ex Cassie Randolph.
As fans may recall, Underwood’s virginity was a big topic throughout his time on the ABC series. While he didn’t feel exploited by the story line, he told Variety in 2020 that he did feel his sexuality was “overplayed” at times. Because he was public about abstaining from sex, both he and Randolph said he dealt with a lot of jokes and rude comments online.
“I feel like with a girl, it probably wouldn’t have been talked about as much, honesty,” Randolph, 25, said, adding, “Or maybe the jokes wouldn’t have been as extreme.”
“I can tell you, if it was a girl, it wouldn’t have been as in your face,” Underwood noted. “I would definitely say that.”
Underwood and Randolph’s relationship endured a lot of peaks and pitfalls before they split in May 2020. Even though she secured his coveted final rose on the show, the couple of 18 months told fans they were “just meant to be friends.”
However, their bond took a hit in September when she filed for a restraining order against Underwood, accusing him of “stalking” and “harassing” her post-split (which he denied). By November, Randolph dropped the restraining order against Underwood because they were able to “reach a private agreement.”
Looking ahead, Underwood is preparing to release an extra chapter of his book, The First Time: Finding Myself and Looking for Love on Reality TV, detailing more about their breakup. The book was first released in March 2020.