WARNING: The following contains major spoilers from Monday’s night season finale of The Bachelorette.
On Monday’s live After the Final Rose special, the Bachelorette and her fiancé made their official debut as a couple — and Yrigoyen found himself in the hot seat. The winner faced questions about screenshots that showed an Instagram account under his name liking offensive posts from as recently as last November. Screenshots of the posts — which mocked the trans community, a Parkland high school shooting survivor, undocumented immigrants and more — surfaced online the day after the season premiere, in which Yrigoyen landed the coveted first impression rose.
Yrigoyen, 29, said he stood by his previous apology and that Kufrin had “helped me through everything.”
- Watch the full episode of People Features: Becca Kufrin and Garrett Yrigoyen – Everything Led Me to Him streaming now on PeopleTV.com, or download the PeopleTV app on your favorite device.
“We’ve been honest and open and transparent with one another from the beginning,” he said. “I feel like when I was liking things it was going against things she stands for and that made it really hard on us as a couple. … We got through that together and we’re growing.”
Kufrin acknowledged that the scandal was “a major thing that we had to talk about early on at the very beginning of our relationship.”
“I, luckily, got to know him for who he is … so I got to see who he is, his heart, his soul,” she said. “And the Instagram situation, I don’t condone that and I know that he stands by his apology and he feels so bad for everyone that he did offend. I just want to move forward and to learn and to grown and to continue to educate ourselves. That’s all that you can ask for in another person.”
Asked whether she considered ending the relationship, Kufrin said, “I don’t think we ever got to that point.”
“It’s just been a constant conversation and he’s had to deal with some really negative things being said about him. Terrible things,” she said. “He put out the apology and he asked for the chance to learn and grow, and that’s all I could hope for in him.”
“It definitely brought us stronger,” she added. “It’s a challenge that we had to overcome and it’s been a hurdle, but we’ve pushed through and we’ve talked about it so there was never any question in my mind of ‘Can we get through this and would this end us?’ ”
Speaking exclusively to PEOPLE in this week’s issue, on stands Friday, Yrigoyen said the legions of fans labeling him a bigot was “tough.”
“Just because I liked it, doesn’t necessarily mean that I supported it,” he said. “I was raised in a very open-minded family that was accepting to everybody. We’re very non-judgmental. I’m genuinely sincere.”
RELATED VIDEO: The Bachelorette’s Becca Kufrin is Engaged: “It Was the Happiest Moment of My Life!”
Yrigoyen previously apologized with a lengthy statement shared on his new Instagram account.
“To those who I have hurt and offended: This is all new to me. I went on the Bachelorette for the adventure and possibility of falling in love, not fame. I did not know what to expect once the show aired,” he began.
“I am sorry to those who I offended, and I also take full responsibility for my ‘likes’ on Instagram that were hurtful and offensive. @garret_yrigs12 was my former Instagram handle and I decided to take it down and start fresh because I have learned an extremely valuable lesson and am taking steps to grow, become more educated, and be a better version of myself. I am not perfect, and I will never be anywhere close, but now I will always be more informed and aware of what I am liking and supporting, not just on Instagram, but in life.”
“I never realized the power behind a mindless double tap on Instagram and how it bears so much weight on people’s lives,” he continued. “I did not mean any harm by any of it. My Instagram ‘likes’ were not a true reflection of me and my morals. I am not the negative labels people are associating me with. For those who do know me, I am a sincere, genuine, loving, light-hearted, open-minded and non-judgmental individual. I like to make new friends with anyone I meet and want everyone to find their happiness. I love to laugh often and enjoy seeing others do the same. I hope that some day you can get to know the real me and the man that I am.”
- For more on Becca and Garrett, pick up this week’s issue of PEOPLE, on stands Friday
“Let my mistakes be a lesson for those who mindlessly double tap images, memes, and videos on any social media content that could be many things including hurtful, degrading, and dehumanizing,” he concluded. “I do not want my social media to define who I am, and I will take better care moving forward to support all walks of life. Again, I sincerely apologize and am sorry for any hurt, damage or offense I may have caused.”