Garrett Yrigoyen, the newly-crowned winner of The Bachelorette, said Monday that he "didn't mean to offend anyone" after it was discovered shortly after the show's premiere this summer that the he had previously liked a series of highly inflammatory Instagram posts.
"It was tough," Yrigoyen, 29, told PEOPLE of the public outcry that labeled him a bigot. "I didn't mean to offend anyone."
In May, when he was secretly newly engaged to Becca Kufrin, he referred to liking the posts, some of which were racist and homophobic, as "mindless taps." And it appears he stands by the statement today.
“Just because I liked it, doesn’t necessarily mean that I supported it,” he told PEOPLE. “I was raised in a very open-minded family that was accepting to everybody. We’re very non-judgmental. I’m genuinely sincere.”
Kufrin was quick to defend her fiancé when the posts were first uncovered, something she did again this week.
“People have been saying really terrible things about [Garrett], but that’s not who he is,” Kufrin said. “At his core, he’s a good guy. We’ve all made mistakes and done things that aren’t perfect. But all I could ask for is somebody who owns up to what they’ve done and who apologizes and wants to grow. And that’s what he’s done.”
Yrigoyen says his and Kufrin's strong foundation of honesty and transparency has helped get them through the difficult time and will continue to serve as the basis of their relationship.
“We started a foundation of being honest and open and transparent,” he said. “Anything that’s come about, or just dealing with anything, that’s how we address it — head on. It makes our relationship so much stronger, and we continue to grow together.”
"Can't believe I wasted watching this show for her to pick racist ass Garrett in the end," one viewer wrote.
#TheBachelorette— ashley (@ash_nunez17) August 7, 2018
Can't believe I wasted watching this show for her to pick racist ass Garrett in the end
"Becca has the worst taste in men. #TheBachelorette DID WE NOT LEARN FROM LAST TIME?!" another fan said.
"I was #TeamGarrett until he said the Parkland victims were crisis actors. How thick skulled can you be? Making a last minute switch #TeamBlake," someone else said.0comments
While many fans were upset by Yrigoyen's victory, others were excited for the happy couple.
"Yay!!! I loved Garrett from the start," one person wrote. "good choice, you're a super cute couple."
Yay!!! I loved Garrett from the start 🙂 good choice, you’re a super cute couple 💍🥂— Jen 🌸⭐️🇨🇦 (@jenniferthiel72) August 7, 2018