Metro Weekly

Dethroned beauty queen who said it’s harder to come out as conservative than gay joins Trump campaign

College Republican activist had her Miss Michigan title taken away for "insensitive tweets"

Kathy Zhu – Photo: Facebook.

A dethroned beauty queen who claimed it was harder to come out as conservative than to come out as gay has joined Donald Trump’s re-election campaign.

University of Michigan student Kathy Zhu, who was stripped of her Miss Michigan crown by the Miss World America beauty pageant over insensitive tweets, has been named a member of the Women for Trump Coalition Advisory Board, which oversees the campaign’s outreach to women voters.

The Trump re-election campaign confirmed Zhu’s new position in a tweet, writing: “Team Trump welcomes Kathy Zhu to the Official #WomenforTrump Coalition Advisory Board! @PoliticalKathy is a patriot who has continued to stand for American values despite being stripped of her crown.”

The 20-year-old Zhu has become a celebrity within conservative circles after she was stripped of her title because of past tweets she had made about black-on-black crime and her refusal to try on a hijab as part of a “World Hijab Day” held by Muslim students on the campus of the University of Central Florida in 2018, when Zhu was still a student there. 

Regarding the “Try the Hijab On” booth on campus, Zhu tweeted: “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 tweet has since been deleted.)

In 2017, Zhu tweeted: “Did you know the majority of black deaths are caused by other blacks? Fix problems within your own community first before blaming others.” She claimed she was responding to other people blaming police for the deaths of black people, according to The Detroit News

Pageant officials told Zhu that her tweets violated requirements that contestants be “of good character” and have a background that “is not likely to bring disrepute to Miss World America or any person associated with the organization.”

Zhu told The Detroit News that she was not given a chance to explain the tweets or defend herself. She is not seeking legal action against the pageant.

But Zhu is now using her newfound celebrity as a platform to shine a light on what she says are different standards for conservatives. She has already appeared on CNN and Fox News, and has been interviewed by a number of publications, to speak about losing her title and to defend herself, arguing that she is being punished for exercising her free speech rights because some people object to her viewpoint.

She credits her fellow conservatives for supporting her following the loss of her title, saying their encouragement has reinforced her decision to stand by her comments, which she claims were based on facts.

After being stripped of her title, the vice president of the University of Michigan’s College Republican group was invited to speak before an audience of Michigan Trump Republicans in Bloomfield Hills about her experience “coming out” as a conservative in high school, the website Michigan Live reports.

In her speech, Zhu once again grabbed headlines for saying something controversial.

“After I came out as a conservative, which I think is very hard to do nowadays — it’s harder than coming out as openly gay,” she said. “Ever since junior year, I’ve been ridiculed online, bullied online, on Twitter and Facebook. … People [told me] I was a white supremacist, even though I’m Asian. I don’t know why that’s even a thing.”

She also spoke about how she sees Trump as a “role model” because he speaks his mind on a number of controversial topics.

“I think that for me to stand here as an Asian-American, to come here and say, ‘I am a conservative, I support Trump,’ I guess the left finds it hysterical that I’m doing this, but a lot of people have reached out to me and said ‘you inspired me to be a conservative,’ and I’m so glad I was able to do that,” she said.

John Riley is the local news reporter for Metro Weekly. He can be reached at jriley@metroweekly.com

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