As executive producer on the series, Underwood knows he has privileges and a platform, which is why he said he sought advice from people who are not white gay cisgender men, including Nicole Garcia, a transgender Latina pastor. In an email, Garcia said Underwood could be a role model, especially to let young athletes know that they can be “masculine, athletic, gay and successful, loved and respected”.
Since this is reality TV, Underwood didn’t prepare the people he’ll face on camera – what we see, he said, is their real reaction to the news that he’s gay. That didn’t go well with his mother, Donna Burkard, at first, the first person he came out with on the show. (Underwood’s parents are divorced but on good terms.)
Burkard said her son’s reveal came as a surprise and she was uncomfortable with the camera but resigned herself to it. Then her mother bear appeared.
“We have decided whether we can help a single family, and hopefully multiple families, by showing the love and support I believe I have shown weapons,” she said in a phone interview.
Underwood’s greatest protector on the show is his father, Scott Underwood, who said he loved his son – “a strong person,” he called him for appearing on national television. But did he have to get the message while they were fishing?
“I’m not saying I’m upset about it, but I would have preferred it had been done differently,” he said on the phone. But his son is “an entertainer, let’s face it,” he continued. “That’s what he chose for his career.”