Colton Underwood is opening up about the bullying he endured as a child and how it affected him. The Bachelor star, who was recently diagnosed with coronavirus, shared his story in his upcoming memoir, The First Time: Finding Myself and Looking for Love on Reality TV.
In The First Time, Colton, 28, looks back at his childhood in small-town Washington. In an excerpt from the book obtained by People ahead of its March 31 release date, the future NFL player revealed that he was mercilessly teased for his appearance in elementary school.
“I was called fatso, four eyes and four lips because I used to lick my lips, so I would constantly have a red ring around them,” Colton wrote. “I was a little heavy, and that, combined with being socially awkward, led to a really hard time. I didn’t believe in myself. And I was super insecure.”
Colton went on to reveal that while he was the captain of the football team in high school, he was not interested in partying and that he abstained from sex due to his religious faith and values. The future reality TV hunk wrote that other kids began to circulate rumors that he was gay, which made him question if it was true because he heard it so much he started to believe it.
“I thought, maybe I am gay,” The Bachelor star revealed. “The captain of the football team should be having sex and drinking, right? But I wasn’t.”
Colton admitted that he didn’t really know who he was growing up, so he focused on athletics instead of dating. He revealed that he internalized his questions about his sexuality and never told his parents about it.
His first serious dating relationship came after college when he dated Olympic gymnast Aly Raisman in 2016. By that time, he was a tight end in the NFL and he met Aly through his former Oakland Raiders teammate Andrew East, according to People.
When he was a suitor on Becca Kufrin’s season of The Bachelorette, he talked about his past relationship and revealed that he said “I love you” early on and didn’t get it back. While he didn’t mention Aly by name, Colton admitted his ex dumped him, so he long associated love with pain.
By the time he was cast as The Bachelor in 2019, Colton was touted as the ABC reality show’s first-ever “Virgin Bachelor.” His virginal status was the butt of many puns during his season.
“Even while my season was airing, I battled the gay [rumors],” Colton wrote in his book. “They’d say, ‘he’s gay, he’s hiding it.’ No. But I’ve been there, done that now.”
The star ultimately went to great lengths to find love with his final pick, Cassie Randolph. While they aren’t yet engaged, Colton says he “knows” she is his person.
The description for The First Time posted by Amazon also reveals that Colton had behind-the-scenes conflicts with production on The Bachelor and that his on-camera responsibilities as ABC’s leading man nearly ruined things after he knew he had already fallen in love with Cassie.