In a new interview in which he reflects upon his time in the closet, reality star Colton Underwood, 29, says his fear of being outed made the football locker room a particularly awkward place for him.
Before finding fame on The Bachelor, Underwood was signed in 2014 by the San Diego Chargers. He went on to be on the practice squad for Oakland Raiders and Philadelphia Eagles. He came out as gay earlier this year in an interview on Good Morning America. Earlier this month, Netflix released the docu-series, Coming Out Colton.
Underwood was speaking on Alex Cooper’s Call Her Daddy podcast on Spotify. He said that at the time he was associated with the NFL, there were no out players.
“The coaches and other players in the locker room weren’t very friendly. The locker room is extremely homophobic, but it’s also very homoerotic.
“It’s like [they’re] slapping [each other’s] asses, commenting on each other’s dicks, and then all of a sudden being called a fag or queer, and all of these derogatories.
“I would be sitting in my locker room and a guy would walk by to go to the shower and comment on another guy’s penis size, like, ‘Dang that’s big,’ stuff like that. Or comment on a nice ass.
“And then, within seconds, if you stare at the dick too long, it’s like, ‘What are you doing fag?’ All of a sudden a flip switches.
“There’s an appropriate time that you can look, but if you take it one second too long, you all of a sudden are gay.
“And it’s super confusing because I’m sitting there like, ‘Wait, maybe other men, especially in this locker room, are questioning [their sexuality] or struggling with their sexuality too.’
“And then as soon as that flicker of hope for me [was ignited] it flipped to slurs and homophobia. And I’d be like, ‘Okay, never mind. It’s just me.’”
Underwood said he would avoid looking at his teammates or showering with them.
“I wouldn’t shower after practice because I was afraid of getting turned on in the locker room or in the shower.”
“I never really was attracted to anybody I played with or coaches so it’s sort of silly to say that, but I wanted to avoid any chance of being outed so I would not shower with the rest of the team.
“I would leave. I would change in a corner or in a stall. There was just a lot of things I did differently from other plays because I felt like I had to. I didn’t want questions to start being asked.
“I stayed completely away from [them], I kept my eyes locked on eyes at all times. I played it very safe because I didn’t want to give anyone a reason to come at me.”
Underwood talked about his childhood, saying he knew he was different from about the age of six, but it wasn’t until high school that he realized he was attracted to men. He said he began to hook up with me from around the age of 21, using a false name.
At the same time, his religious, small-town upbringing had a massive impact on him and his sense of shame. He says that when he was cast on The Bachelor in 2018, he saw it as an opportunity from God to turn straight and find a wife.
“I was thanking God,” he recalled of the moment he heard he’d got a role on the show.
“I was literally praying and saying, ‘Thank you Lord for making me straight. Thank you for giving me this opportunity to find my wife.’
“I thought I could get rid of the spider web of lies I created if I got a fiancé. And once we get married, I’ll be committed and straight and all these urges will go away.”