This week, Colton Underwood came out as gay, stunning some (but not all) fans of The Bachelor and The Bachelorette.
Though he has been a divisive figure with good reason, he did receive a lot of well wishes from Bachelor Nation overall.
And we now know that producers are discussing the idea of bringing him back to the franchise that made him famous.
It looks as though Colton could have a new season ... this time, as the franchise's first openly gay Bachelor.
TMZ reports that Colton Underwood's groundbreaking Good Morning America interview is opening new doors.
A "number of producers" were apparently so moved by Colton's coming out that they want him back.
They have "informally" been discussing the idea of Colton returning for a new season/journey for love on ABC.
It is unclear if Colton, who got engaged to Cassie Randolph on the show, would be interested at this time.
Currently, he is already in production on a new Netflix show about his new life as an openly gay man.
Understandably, he may want to spend some time living authentically before he tries to get married.
Now, Underwood is not currently under contract with The Bachelor or its associated production companies.
He did, however, call producers to give them a heads up before his bombshell interview hit the airwaves.
His obvious willingness to be a good sport with his former franchise does make his return sound promising.
A lot of this sounds hypothetical right now, and with good reason. It's probably a little soon to decide.
After all, Colton came out just two days ago.
Even when there is a lot of interest at every level, it can take time to put together a plan like that.
Obviously, there would be considerable pushback against a gay leading man on the show from many fans.
Homophobia is an evil that infects our society and culture on so many levels. It's a sad but undeniable truth.
And we all know that this franchise has struggled with bigotry in other forms, mostly in terms of racism.
However, there is other pushback against this idea that has genuinely nothing to do with Colton's sexuality.
Many people who are happy for Underwood coming out and living in his truth would still have issues.
Remember, in 2020, Cassie went so far as to file for a restraining order against Colton.
He allegedly stalked her, showing up unexpectedly and placing a tracking device on her car.
The two of them later reached an agreement and are no longer engaged in a legal battle, it's worth noting.
But the question remains as to whether someone who stalked an ex should ever be on a show like this.
Whether the fandom can accept Colton as Bachelor may hinge upon Cassie's feelings on the matter.
Additionally, Colton's history reminds people that there may be other candidates for the role with different stories to tell.
For example, Lil Nas X came out just a couple of years ago, dealing with his role in pop culture as a young, Black, gay man.
Fans on Twitter have discussed how much more interested they would be in seeing his love story on screen.
Personally, I'm just going to say that Lil Nas X should not be put in this role right now.
First, because I would not wish for the anti-Black racism of the fandom to be directed at him.
Second, because he is 22 (as of a week ago) and simply too young to get married.
But yes, there are much better choices for the first openly gay Bachelor than Underwood, in our view.
That said, whether there's the same level of interest or familiarity ... that's a whole other conversation.
Colton is a very familiar face to the franchise and a lot of people do want to see him on the show.
Some critics of the idea have put forward that Colton should first apologize to all of the women whom he has dated.
This isn't about stalking Cassie, but about -- to some -- the idea that he "wasted" women's time by dating them.
Whether people mean this or not, that is homophobic. Including when Carole Radziwell says it.
Other critics of the idea of a gay or bi lead on the franchise have claimed that it's "different" and belongs on another show.
That's blatant homophobia, of course.
The show's called The Bachelor, not The Straight Bachelor. "Straight" is not default, even if up until now it seems that way.
Similarly, others critical of the idea have said that they worry that contestants would fall too hard for each other.
There are a few problems with that idea.
And yes, it's homophobic, as you probably already guessed ... have you seen Peter's season? Or Hannah's?
The first is the suggestion that gay and bi people cannot help themselves from falling head over heels for each other.
An all-male or all-female cast or a half-and-half cast wouldn't inevitably pair up or descend into an orgy.
One shudders to think what those with this homophobic notion thinks that "gay brunch" looks like.
After all, the purpose is to be with the lead, not to just find a random someone. It's the entire premise of the show, people.
It's true that there have been cases, internationally, of two women falling for each other while competing for the same man.
But this actually bridges us into the next important point.
As we said earlier, straight is not "default."
Obviously, not all of the contestants in the franchise so far have been straight.
Some have come out then or since then. Others have simply not come out.
That is their choice.
Because of that, two contestants could fall for each other or hook up on any season.
We would not be surprised to learn that any two contestants may have hooked up in the past but kept it quiet.
A gay or bi lead would simply mean that they're more open about it.
Besides, even if a gay or bi season were off of the table, LGBTQ+ rep would be very possible.
A straight, transgender lead would be groundbreaking representation for the franchise.
It would be "interesting" to hear what homophobes would then have to say about it. (Spoiler: they would be transphobic)
So, like we said, the idea of Colton as the first gay Bachelor is only questionable because of Colton himself.
His history includes stalking Cassie, which was never okay, complicates the issue.
As Demi has said, there are likely ways to celebrate Colton coming out while still holding him accountable for his actions.