A month after he came out on national TV, The Bachelor star Colton Underwood has revealed that he was blackmailed with nude photos of himself.

The former NFL player made headlines after his Good Morning America interview with Robin Roberts. Though he brimmed with emotion, Underwood made it clear that he never thought he’d come out. He told Roberts, “I was in a place where I didn’t think I’d ever share this. I would’ve rather died than say I’m gay.”

Underwood is now revealing that he had been blackmailed and forced to tell his publicist about his sexuality before coming out. After visiting a spa known to have a gay client base, he received emails from an unknown user. This person claimed to have naked photos of Underwood at the spa and threatened to send them to the press. “I, at one point, during my rock bottom and spiral, was getting blackmailed,” he told Variety. “Nobody knows I was blackmailed.”

Underwood, unsure what to do, forwarded the emails to his publicist. “I knew that out of anybody in my world, my publicist wasn’t going to ruin me,” he said.

Underwood reflected on how long it took to come to terms with his sexuality. He remembered that he knew there was something different about him from the age of six but never had any exposure to people from the LGBT community. The 29-year-old, who grew up in a small Illinois town, said, “We had one gay person in my entire town… And he was the butt of every joke. [I] would have done anything to see a gay football player. The closest person I ever could look at was like Ricky Martin because I love music.”

Underwood recalled going to lengths to watch the movie Brokeback Mountain, including using a friend’s Blockbuster card. He said the film “was very authentic to who I was, growing up in the Midwest. I wasn’t a cowboy, by any means, but I grew up on a farm in Illinois.” His father also questioned him about his activity on the computer. “Gay porn was sort of what I gravitated towards,” Underwood said.

The homophobia that resulted from Michael Sam coming out as the first openly gay NFL player only further isolated Underwood. “Growing up in sports, I was taught that gay is wrong and gay is bad and football players are not gay,” he said. “By the time I realized that I was gay, I didn’t want to be gay. It was easy for me to hide in plain sight behind a football mask and hunting and fishing and the things that this world tells us is ‘masculine and ‘manly.'”

Underwood’s upcoming Netflix series documents his journey coming out and the events that follow. However, Netflix has received criticism for choosing to portray Underwood’s story instead of the more marginalized in the community.

Underwood got a restraining order earlier this year from his ex-girlfriend, Cassie Randolph, whom he met on The Bachelor.

She alleged that he stalked her and used tracking devices on her car. Randolph and Underwood have a legal agreement that prevents him from speaking much about her. “If there was anything I could do to take more ownership, I would,” he said. “But also, out of respect to her, I don’t want to get into the details. I want this interview to be the last time I address her because it’s not fair for her to have her name in articles every time I talk. I’m sorry, and I want her to know that I hope she has the best, most beautiful life.”

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