Content warning: Anti-LGBTQ+ language
Screenshots circulating on social media revealed Facebook comments made by Reboot UofT’s UTSU presidential candidate Micah Ryu that used homophobic and transphobic language.
“Lmao What A Faggot Quit Talking Like This,” reads one comment. In another comment, he wrote, “Just because I think sjws are filthy doesn’t mean this guy ain’t a fucking asswipe.” And, “I was born black so I’m trans Asian you fucking bigot.”
Mira El Hussein, who is one of the University College directors on the UTSU Board of Directors, raised concerns about these comments at the official UTSU elections debate on March 8.
“I’ve seen some comments that you’ve made in Students in Support of Free Speech, many of which were transphobic,” El Hussein said. “So how can I trust you to actually represent students on this campus if you actually have targeted and attacked many of them?”
Ryu initially denied these allegations. El Hussein interjected, “I have screenshots.”
“Well, I don’t know what comments you’re referring to, so it’s hard for me to respond,” Ryu replied. “I’m not a transphobic person. I’m not a racist person. I’m not a sexist person. Of course anyone would say that. At this point, what more can I say?”
Ryu does not deny making the controversial Facebook comments, which have since caused a social media crisis for Reboot, but he claims that his comments and language are not as broadly unacceptable as public backlash is painting them to be.
“The type of language I used is acceptable in some contexts,” he told The Varsity. “I believe that the culture of political correctness has become too extreme on campus.”
“Could I have worded things differently? Yes,” Ryu admitted, “But should people be overly sensitive and respond as if what was clearly a joke is a huge personal attack? They have the right to say what they want, but many people also realize that this kind of behaviour is ridiculous and not meant to be taken seriously.”
Ryu also says that he is in a position to sympathize with the LGBTQ+ community more broadly. “Being bisexual (although I am not out to my family and some of my friends), I can sympathize with some of the experiences that students in the LGBTQ+ community have gone through,” he said.
Borana Makri was running with Reboot for Humanities Director until Saturday, when she made a public Facebook post distancing herself from the slate.
“I would like to inform my UofT network that immediately upon being made aware of this news, I have removed myself from this slate,” Makri said in her post.
She says she also “informed both the CRO and the execs of the slate that the views of this slate and mine are in direct conflict and I am from this point forward not involved in this slate in any way.”
Makri said, “As a member of the LGBTQ+ community and a committed ally, I am concerned as well as personally hurt by this turn of events and my unknowing involvement by proxy.”
The Varsity has reached out to Makri for comment.