Warning: This article discusses suicidal thoughts and may be distressing to some readers.
Star of The Bachelor US Colton Underwood has come out as gay in an emotional interview on Good Morning America.
Underwood, who appeared in the 23rd season of the reality show in 2019, revealed he had "hated himself for a long time" but had come to terms with his sexuality earlier this year.
"Obviously this [past] year's been a lot for a lot of people, and it's probably made a lot of people look themselves in the mirror and figure out who they are and what they've been running from and putting off in their lives," Underwood told Robin Roberts.
"For me, I've ran from myself for a long time, I've hated myself for a long time, and I'm gay."
The former professional football player's voice shook as he spoke, prompting Roberts - who publicly came out herself in 2013 - to tell him: "Through the nerves, I can see the joy."
"Yeah, I'm emotional," Underwood agreed. "But I'm emotional in such a good, happy, positive way."
The 29-year-old said he was the "happiest and healthiest" he's ever been, but he had previously struggled with suicidal thoughts.
"I got into a place for me in my personal life that was dark and bad," Underwood said.
"I can list a bunch of different things but they'd all be excuses. I think overall the reason why now is because I got to a place where I didn't think I was ever going to share this.
"I would rather have died than say I'm gay, and that was sort of my wake up call."
Underwood also mentioned "a moment" while living in Los Angeles where he woke up after having no intentions of doing so.
"So I think for me that was like my wake up call of like, this is your life, take back control."
Underwood first appeared on reality TV as a contestant on the 14th season of The Bachelorette, where he vied for the attention of Becca Kufrin in 2018. After being eliminated in week eight, he joined the cast of Bachelor in Paradise that same year, where he was romantically involved with fellow contestant Tia Booth.
The following year, Underwood was announced as the star of The Bachelor, where 30 women competed to become his partner before he chose Cassie Randolph as the winner.
Underwood and Randolph remained together until May 2020, when they announced their break-up.
Of his time starring in The Bachelor franchise, Underwood said he "could have handled it better".
"I just wish I wouldn't have dragged people into my own mess of figuring out who I was," he continued.
"I genuinely mean that, but I also at the same time I can say 'I'm sorry' to all of those women, I can also thank them, and without the Bachelor franchise, I don't know if this would have ever come out."
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- Lifeline - 0800 543 354 or (09) 5222 999 within Auckland
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- Samaritans - 0800 726 666
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- Shakti Community Council - 0800 742 584