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Who Is the New Bachelorette, Katie Thurston?

The new season of The Bachelorette began this month on ABC. And after a tumultuous and controversial year for the Bachelor franchise, all eyes are on the new Bachelorette star: Katie Thurston. Despite finishing in 11th place during Matt James' season, Thurston was a fan-favorite who emerged as a friend to girls in the house. But who exactly is Katie Thurston?

Katie Thurston

Katie Thurston made quite the impression on the first night of Matt James' Bachelor season when she arrived at the mansion holding... a vibrator. (And in case you're wondering, no, she did not get the first impression rose.) The giggly moment made waves in the Bachelor fanbase and eventually inspired the promos for Thurston's own season. See above. Throughout her run on The Bachelor, Thurston's big personality continued to shine. Though she and James didn't share a romantic connection, viewers were disappointed to see the contender go home so early.

But Bachelor Nation did not forget about Thurston. In March, the franchise announced that both Thurston and Michelle Young, another contestant from James' season, would appear on two consecutive Bachelorette seasons. Since then, Thurston's social media has gone viral. It turns out, the 30-year-old bank marketing manager posts sex-positive TikToks in her free time. They're quite popular!

@thekatiethurston

Reply to @therealshaneb They don’t teach us this in school #adulttiktok

♬ Morning Mood - Ave Maria

A Sexual Assault Survivor

Katie's season of The Bachelorette has been highly anticipated. With the departure of longtime host Chris Harrison, the emphasis and tone of the episodes were bound to change. Co-hosts Tayshia Adams and Kaitlyn Bristowe are now leading Thurston's season. Combined with Thurston's candor, the latest episodes have centered more directly on the female experience.

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First, Thurston addressed her characteristic sex positivity; it was the first time sex has been addressed so frankly, and so early, in any season of The Bachelorette. And in the most recent episode, Thurston revealed something even more personal: that she is a survivor of sexual assault. The conversation arose on a group date, moderated by former bachelor Nick Viall, and took a serious turn when Thurston said, "I was involved a situation where there wasn't consent." Following that event, she experienced a period of denial and discomfort with sex. She explained:

"I didn't want to have sex... I didn't like talking about sex, and it's taken me a long time to get to where I am now... loving myself and accepting things I can no longer control."

Her honest disclosure made headlines and you can watch her discuss the topic further, above, on the Talking It Out podcast for Bachelor Nation. Considering this refreshingly honest outlook, will you be watching Katie's season of the show? There's bound to be more drama as the Bachelorette contestants duke it out to see who gets the final rose.

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Who Is the New Bachelorette, Katie Thurston?