Colton, a former NFL player who appeared on The Bachelorette in 2018 followed by Season 5 of Bachelor in Paradise before filming The Bachelor, was labeled "The Virgin Bachelor" during his season that aired in early 2019.
"I'll say this: I was 'The Virgin Bachelor,' but I did experiment with men prior to being on The Bachelorette," Colton revealed to Variety in a recent interview.
Colton, who publicly came out as gay on the April 14 episode of Good Morning America, disclosed he had a few sexual encounters with men in his mid-20s but never had sex with a man or woman prior to his time on The Bachelor franchise.
"When I say 'hookups,' not sex," Colton confirmed. "I want to make that very clear that I did not have sex with a man, prior to that."
Colton apparently joined the dating app Grindr under a false name to conceal his identity in 2016 or 2017.
Once Colton found fame on reality TV, he told Variety that he constantly worried about being "outed" by one of the men he had hooked up with. Colton feared being exposed and seeing his long-kept secret sold to the tabloids.
"I remember feeling so guilty, like 'What the hell am I doing?'" Colton recalled of his gay encounters.
"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.'"
Colton -- who confirmed he is currently single and no longer on the dating app -- admitted he never felt comfortable with ABC's "virgin" marketing and promotional materials used during his journey on The Bachelor.
Despite seeming a little angry and resentful at the time, Colton assured Variety there are no hard feelings and he now understands producers "had to do what they had to do."
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"I was always looking for somebody to blame. I was passive-aggressive to the franchise after it was done," Colton confessed.
"But all of a sudden, as I was coming out, everything started to make so much more sense. I was a miserable person living as a shell of a human being, and being who the world wanted to see. I finally had to look myself in the mirror and say, 'You've got to fix this.'"
Colton avoided Fantasy Suites with his Final 3 bachelorettes on his season by selecting Cassie Randolph as his winner prematurely. The couple went on to date 18 months after the show but announced their split -- which was initially amicable and turned nasty -- in May 2020.
Colton said around the time of his breakup, a person blackmailed him after he visited a spa in Los Angeles known for catering to gay clients. Colton's life continued in a downward spiral when Cassie accused him of stalking and harassing her in Fall 2020.
"I never want people to think that I'm coming out to change the narrative, or to brush over and not take responsibility for my actions," explained Colton, who had essentially pretended to be straight since high school in fear of being his true self and not receiving acceptance from others.
He added, "Controlling situations to try to grasp at any part of the straight fantasy that I was trying to live out was so wrong."
Colton admitted he was "in such a dark place" following his split from Cassie because he realized he must face reality and would not be able to hide behind a wife and eventual children.
Colton therefore suggested bad behavior manifested through his internal struggle and he's extremely sorry now for what he had put Cassie and her family through.
"It's not who I am as a human being, and it's not how I carry myself. If there was anything I could do to take more ownership, I would," Colton 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," he concluded.