(Update: A few hours after this piece was published, Garrett Yrigoyen posted a lengthy mea culpa on his *new* Instagram, @gy_yrigoyen: “To those who I have hurt and offended: This is all new to me. I went on the Bachelorette for the adventure and the possibility of falling in love, not fame. I did not know what to expect when the show aired. I am sorry to those who I offended, and I 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 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. 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 one day you can get to know the real me and the man that I am. Let my mistakes be a lesson for those who mindlessly double tap images, memes, and videos on 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 offence I may have caused.”)
After only one episode, it looks like The Bachelorette legit might live up to host Chris Harrison’s perpetual promise and be the “most dramatic” season ever.
On the same day that Becca Kufrin was set to meet her new crop of men as Season 14’s Bachelorette, HuffPost broke the news that one of her 28 prospective “soulmates” seemingly had a sordid past on social media.
Based on his Instagram history, it came to light that Garrett Yrigoyen may have some seriously questionable personal views. According to the screenshots captured by former Bachelor contestant Ashley Spivey, Yrigoyen has liked posts mocking feminism, the trans community and immigrants—including one of a soldier, playfully lifting a young child off the ground and the caption “when a kid makes it over the wall and you have to throw them back.” The memes were posted by U.S. clothing company Merica Supply Co., whose Instagram account features pics that are pro-gun, pro-Trump and involve a whole lot of American flags.
Given the news, Bachelor Nation had some serious qs about whether Yrigoyen was actually planted as this season’s Lee Garrett, one of Rachel Lindsay’s contestants who was later revealed to have posted racist tweets. After the first episode of Becca’s season aired on May 28, Yrigoyen got the very important First Impression Rose—but as audiences read about his social media history, they were less impressed by this potential frontrunner.
Two days after the premiere of The Bachelorette, Becca was asked about the controversy in an interview with E! and, well, it was a bit of a vague non-answer with a problematic subtext.
“I’ve just been so busy traveling around the country with press that I haven’t really been able to read too much up on it,” Becca responded when asked if she had anything to say about the rumours. “But everyone is entitled to their own opinions, and at the end of the day I wanted to go on this journey to open up myself and have people see my love story unfold and I would hope that they would stay open and respect me but also stay open and respect these 28 guys that went along on the journey with me.”
She further expanded in an interview with Entertainment Tonight.
“I want viewers to be open to everyone, and I want them to go through this season with me and watch my love story unfold with all of these men… because that’s how I went into this journey,” Becca told ET’s Lauren Zima. “I did things in the past that I’m sure wasn’t the best thing, but I just want people to stay open-minded to everyone.”
While at first, this seems like an admirable sentiment—yay freedom of speech and not judging without all the facts—there is a certain irony to Becca asking her audience to “stay open-minded to everyone” when the contestant she is kinda-sorta defending is being accused of liking posts—and, ultimately views—that are the definition of close-minded and hateful towards certain demographics, such as LGBTQ and immigrant communities. There are opinions (i.e. portobello mushrooms are better than cremini) and *opinions* (ex. the best way to avoid school shootings is by arming teachers)—and the things Yrigoyen “liked” seem to be the latter.
Becca’s evasive answer is also all the more surprising because her own political beliefs (she’s a loud-and-proud Hillary Clinton supporter who wore a “Biden My Time #2020” t-shirt last year) are so antithetical to what Yrigoyen is apparently advocating. We’re not dealing with a secret Republican NRA member here. She walked in the 2017 Women’s March in Minnesota, people. Granted, she may be under some sort of contract-induced inability to have a strong opinion on anything vaguely controversial while on the show but surely it is times such as these that rules are meant to be broken? Especially since the network, ABC, has just dealt decisively with the racist behaviour of one of its former stars, Roseanne Barr of the now cancelled eponymous sitcom.
“It’s an alleged account,” Robert Mills, ABC’s senior vice president of alternative series, specials & late-night programming, told ET. “And it’s likes, it’s not things he’s actually posted, which are things you actually can’t scrub for unless the person has a certain number of followers… Obviously we want to know every single possible thing about these contestants. So, we’re working harder. I mean, it is such a new frontier, social media, and I think it’s important for us to really be on top of this stuff, and certainly we never want a situation like what happened last year with Lee [Garrett] to ever happen again. … We are here telling everybody we are putting the best men and women forward for the lead to date, so I think we want to make sure we are absolutely doing that.”
In the E! interview, Becca went on to say that since no phones or internet access are allowed during filming (apparently even for the Bachelorette herself?!) she wouldn’t have had any access to Yrigoyen’s IG anyway, so she’s pleading ignorance on this one.
“I feel like I got a much better picture of who these 28 guys were, as opposed to just looking on their social media and trying to make a decision of who they were by not talking to them,” she told E!. “I think social media is a huge presence in our lives these days. There’s no getting around that fact. It’s difficult for people to say certain things about any of these guys, and so I would really just hope that they watch the entire journey and get to know them for who they really are.”
But Becca… what if the man you may end up with (he had the romantic music at his entrance and got the First Impression Rose, guys) is a sexist, xenophobic, conspiracy-theory-touting bigot?
We don’t know how the show plays out—we’re doing our darndest to avoid those spoilers that are making the rounds—but what we do know is that Becca has since had access to all of her contestants’ social accounts, so whatever she didn’t know about them before, she should know now. So here’s hoping she’s a little bit clearer in her condemnation of hateful ideologies next time, especially if it’s coming from a man that she may or may not be engaged to right now.