COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Colton Underwood, a former football player who also starred on “The Bachelor,” is now publicly coming out as gay.
Underwood made the announcement Wednesday on national television, and the reveal is sparking conversation over gay and queer representation in athletics.
“Everyone should be able to come out and be their full selves on their own time, when they feel appropriate,” said Densil Porteus with Stonewall Columbus.
Porteous is the executive director for Stonewall Columbus, an organization which promotes and celebrates the LGBTQ community.
Porteous felt proud to see Underwood come out in public, saying his status as a former athlete could help address the lack of gay and queer representation in athletics and media.
“There is a great ability for that community to change perception and reality in relation to how people see each other, individuals and identities,” he said.
That’s a message echoed by Wyatt Pertuset, a former Columbus athlete who made history as the first openly gay college football player to score a touchdown.
“Kind of shocking but I was glad to be able to do so, to bring that awareness to it,” Pertuset said of his coming out.
After seeing Underwood’s announcement, Pertuset said it reminded him of when he came out while playing football in high school.
Pertuset said back then, he wasn’t able to come out on his own terms due to rumors about his sexuality, but said that once he told his friends and family, he was welcomed and accepted by many.
And while he knows not everyone will have the same experience, he hopes it inspires others to do the same.
“Just that exposure that we can provide for people, and help people realize that this is just a part of me, I’m still here, I still want to play, I still want to play with you, I still want to play for you, and once people start seeing that, they don’t see it as a big deal, really,” Pertuset said.