The upcoming season 17 Bachelorette was criticized after she shared a photo of herself getting a kiss on the neck by her friend, Casandra Suarez. In the since-deleted pic, they are sitting in front of a neon sign that reads "Girls, girls, girls," per a screenshot taken by TV Shows Ace.
Thurston captioned the shot, "Whatever floats your boat," with a purple heart. Suarez left a comment that reads, "So did Katie actually end up with me, yes or no?"
The post didn't sit well with members of the LGBTQ+ community, with Thurston later taking the photo down and expressing that the photo was not meant to question her sexuality.
"I did not intend for this picture to be a statement about my sexuality. This is simply a friendship post. I've never spoken publicly about my sexuality nor am I doing so with this picture," she reportedly wrote in the comments section. "Nothing but love for everyone."
She then took to her Instagram Story to issue an apology.
"To my followers: I've removed my most recent post after realizing how many people from the LGBTQ+ I hurt. I am so sorry," per a screenshot captured byE! News. "I've read the comments and better understand why my post was offensive. Will continue to learn from my mistakes. I want to always be an ally and today I'm sorry I let you down."
The 30-year-old Washington native will begin her Bachelorette journey and hand out roses to her 34 potential suitors -- who were revealed in March -- starting June 7.
Thurston appeared on the 25th season of The Bachelor, and was known for repeatedly standing up against bullying and negativity. The bank marketing manager from Renton, Washington, was announced as one of the next two Bachelorettes during Matt James' After the Final Rose special. The other leading lady announced was Michelle Young, whose season will air this fall.