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How Grindr, a Gay Spa, and Blackmail Led to Colton Underwood's Coming-Out

Colton Underwood

Colton Underwood has revealed more details of his coming-out journey — and some of the details are dark.

In a Wednesday interview with Variety, the newly out gay reality star and former football player said it was a visit to a gay spa in Los Angeles last year and a subsequent blackmail attempt that set the wheels in motion for the CBS This Morning interview in which he revealed his truth. 

Underwood said he visited the spa, which he did not name, “just to look" and he “should have never been there.” After visiting the location, he received an email from a person who claimed to have taken nude photos of Underwood there and threatened to out him to media.

Underwood did not see the alleged pictures. But, in a panic, he contacted his publicist, Alex Spieller, which led to soul-searching about his gay identity. “I knew that out of anybody in my world, my publicist wasn’t going to ruin me,” Underwood told Variety.

Grindr also played a role in his journey. Underwood said he used the gay hookup app around 2016 or 2017 under a fake name. He also had hookups with several men in his mid-20s, before The Bachelor, which had marketed the Christian-raised man as the "Virgin Bachelor." Underwood stressed he was still a virgin when he appeared on the ABC reality competition.

However, Underwood was concerned that one of his gay hookups might out him. "I remember feeling so guilty, like ‘What the hell am I doing?’” Underwood said. “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.’” Underwood was cast as a contestant on The Bachelorette before becoming a star of The Bachelor.

In the interview, Underwood, now 29, also addressed the backlash to the announcement of his Netflix reality show with out Olympian and friend Gus Kenworthy, who will be his "guide" to living life as a gay man. The piece also quotes Raffy Ermac, the editor in chief of Pride, The Advocate's sister site, who noted the problematic stalking allegations from his ex-girlfriend Cassie Randolph, which complicates Underwood's narrative of bravery. Ermac said, "We shouldn’t be glorifying someone who has this history of allegedly stalking a woman.”

Read the full interview at Variety.

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