Colton Underwood is hoping for more diversity within the Bachelor franchise. ET’s Denny Directo spoke with the 29-year-old reality star ahead of the release of his Netflix series, Coming Out Colton, and he said that he hopes a Bachelor franchise season with a LGBTQ lead is in the future. Underwood came out as gay in April.
“As far as a LGBTQ cast I really don’t know. I would hope. I really would,” he told ET. “I think it would work. I do think if people gave it a shot, the show could work. I do think, I truly believe that America is ready for it, too.”
“I would really hope and wish that whatever show does it has a lot of success,” Underwood added, before noting that he hasn’t watched The Bachelor since his season of the show.
The franchise’s first LGBTQ relationship came on Bachelor in Paradise in 2019, when Demi Burnett, who first appeared on Underwood’s season of The Bachelor and has since come out as a “queer queen,” and her then-girlfriend, Kristian Haggerty, got engaged on the show’s season finale. They have since split.
Seeing Bachelor Nation’s reaction to Burnett’s same-sex relationship was eye-opening for Underwood.
“What I am learning inside the community too is, even Demi’s situation, America can relate, can understand gay, [but] they are having a hard time understanding bisexual people,” he explained. “That is sort of where it came in for me, as well, like, ‘How dare you date women before you came out!’ and stuff like that.”
Underwood’s 2019 season of The Bachelor ended with him in a relationship with his winner, Cassie Randolph. The pair split in May 2020. Underwood told ET that, following the conclusion of his Bachelor season and his subsequent breakup from Randolph, he struggled with “mental health issues.” Still, though, he doesn’t regret joining the Bachelor franchise.
“I have some regrets on how I handled things with the show, with after the show, but I don’t have regrets in doing it,” he said. “In fact, in a really weird roundabout way, it helped save my life. I don’t know if I would have ever came out, and I don’t know what my life would have been like if I did not put myself in that position.”
Though Underwood’s ultimately thankful for his time on the show, the emotional turmoil that followed did make him hesitant to do another TV show.
“There was a lot of hesitation for me,” he said of doing Coming Out Colton. “… It was sort of this confidence that I had to say, ‘You are in a different place in your life now. You have your support system, you have your family, you are healthy because you are authentic now, so maybe let’s give this another shot.'”
“I was not in the best place over the last year, but the show, for me, the reason why I did it, was because my story, my entire life, has been told for me, whether it was through football, or through religion, and then obviously into The Bachelor,” he added. “This was a way for me to sort of take back my life.”
While Underwood admitted that dealing with his critics was “hard,” he said that the Netflix series quickly became “the realest show I’ve ever done,” as it shows him coming out to his family and friends.
“I had to really think in my mind, ‘Hey, who do I need to tell and in what order?’ I know a lot of gay men and gay women out there have to sort of think about that,” he said. “My mom and me are more best friends than we are mother-son, so I felt safer with her, and then my best friend, and then my brother, and then leading up to advice from him on how to [talk to my dad].”
When he did come out to his dad, Underwood said he “never would have expected his reaction.”
“I think the thing that he said to me that meant more than anything… was, ‘How can I take this off your plate? Who can I tell?’ I was like, ‘Wait, you’re going to tell people for me? That I’m gay?'” Underwood recalled. “I thought there would have been a little shame, or a little hesitation, or a little pullback from him.”
“It made me emotional,” he added. “I think my dad is a really strong man and I have only seen him cry in front of me a handful of times in my life… It has just been really emotional for my family to sort of go through this. They have been by my side these past few years and it has been a roller coaster. It really has.”
With the support of his family and friends, Underwood has learned to not pay much mind to what people on social media think about him and his show.
“I don’t know what people are going to think of me. At this point in my life and my career, I truly mean this, I don’t care. I am going to try and be the best person and version of myself that I could be,” he said. “… I hope [the show] hits some kids that don’t always feel represented or seen… I hope those kids can look and be like, ‘OK, there is no such thing as you can only be a football player [if] this is what you do and say. You could only be a Christian this way.’ There are just so many different ways to be you. Hopefully people can see [that].”
“If people watch the show they’ll see a different side of me that maybe my past hasn’t shown, or the GMA interview didn’t show,” Underwood added. “I think there’s a lot more to this show than what people probably thought there was gonna be. All I can hope is they give it a shot.”
Coming Out Colton will land on Netflix Dec. 3.