A Michigan beauty queen who was stripped of her title over offensive commentary on her social media platforms, said Friday that it's harder to come out as a conservative than as a gay person.
University of Michigan student Kathy Zhu, who made headlines earlier this month after the Miss World America pageant stripped her of her title, said she's had a hard time since then.
"It seems harder to come out as a conservative than it does as being gay." Zhu said at Women for Trump luncheon Friday at the Heathers Club in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan.
"People wanted to ridicule me," she said. "There were so many times that my account got hacked from the left."
Make America Great Again Hats and embellished Trump shirts were on display at the entrance, but everyone's attention was focused on Zhu, who was met by a standing ovation.
"We love you!" a woman screamed.
Zhu recounted the sudden epiphany that made her switch her beliefs from liberal to conservative. She said she used to be a Democrat, but only because her friends told her so. It wasn't until she did her own research that she decided to become a Trump supporter and conservative political commentator.
When asked about her Miss Michigan World America title, she said she stands by both of her tweets.
"I am so glad that the story got to light because conservative voices are being censored. They are being banned on social media for talking about their opinions," Zhu said.
She said that the situation ended up being more positive than negative and that she wouldn't take the crown back even if Miss World America offered. Zhu said she will always stand by her beliefs and what she calls free speech.
"I think that hate speech falls under free speech. If you are a hateful person you are going to get the criticism for it, but you should still be allowed to say such things," Zhu said.
Zhu still defends the two now-deleted tweets that have generated the controversy.
The first was an incident that dates to 2018, in which Zhu went up to a Muslim Student Association booth celebrating World Hijab Day and declined to wear a hijab when prompted. She then tweeted: "There is a 'try a hijab on' booth at my college campus.
So you're telling me that it's now just a fashion accessory and not a religious thing? Or are you just trying to get women used to being oppressed under Islam?"
The second is a reply to another user in which Zhu says: "Did you know the majority of black deaths are caused by other blacks? Fix problems within your own community before blaming others."
On Friday, she told the crowd: "I think that everything I've said is considered free speech because it is backed up by statistics, facts, something I have experiences or my opinions. I don't have a racist bone in my body. I don't think I am Islamophobic, but I am going to criticize something that doesn't fit within my morals when I see it."
This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Kathy Zhu, dethroned Miss Michigan, defends tweets, talks hate speech