Bachelorette contestant Garrett Yrigoyen is speaking out about the controversy surrounding his alleged social media likes.
On Thursday, Yrigoyen, 29, released a statement 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,” said Yrigoyen, who received the first impression rose on Monday’s premiere.
“I did not know what to expect once the show aired. I am sorry to those who I offended, and I also take full responsibility for my ‘likes’ on Instagram that were hurtful and offensive,” he continued. “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.”
He added, “I never realized the power behind a mindless double tap on Instagram and how it bears so much weight on people’s lives. I did not mean any harm by any of it. My Instagram ‘likes’ were not a true reflection of me and my morals.”
Yrigoyen, one of Becca Kufrin‘s 28 suitors on season 14, came under fire on Tuesday after liking offensive posts on Instagram that mock the trans community, a Parkland high school shooting survivor, undocumented immigrants and more.
“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-judgemental 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,” he wrote.
“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. 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,” he concluded his lengthy post.
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The California native’s former Instagram account was deleted, but screenshots captured by former Bachelor contestant Ashley Spivey show messages that are claimed to be from as recent as November 2017.
In one post allegedly liked by Yrigoyen, a photo shows David Hogg, a student activist and survivor of the mass shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, being referred to as a “crisis actor.”
One photo mocks Caitlyn Jenner‘s transition; another seemingly calls out young transgender boys.
Kufrin, who exclusively revealed to PEOPLE that she is engaged to a contestant from this season of the ABC reality series, says that people shouldn’t be quick to judge.
“I think I have learned so much from this journey. I met 28 guys who our ideals weren’t always the same. They have different interests,” Kufrin told Mario Lopez on Thursday’s ON With Mario Lopez.
“They have different hobbies, different things that they believe, and that’s what’s been so great about getting to know these guys, because everyone has different viewpoints and that’s what I loved about this journey,” shared Kufrin, who supported Hillary Clinton and equal rights movements like the Women’s March.
The Bachelorette airs Mondays (8 p.m. ET) on ABC.