A gay couple in Canada has sparked a furor on social media for their questionable Halloween costumes.
Marty Fortier and Manuel Navarro, from Toronto, each posted a photograph of their ensembles on Instagram that were criticized as racist.
Fortier dressed as a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officer in a T-shirt and hat printed with ICE, aviator sunglasses, and a badge hanging from his neck. Navarro, sporting a sombrero, mustache, and serape sash over a bare torso, resembled a caricature of a Mexican man.
Screenshots of these costumes found their way to Twitter last weekend, where they sparked thousands of comments. Many users bemoaned yet another example of the insensitivity of "white gays" to other marginalized groups.
After the backlash, the men removed the images from their accounts. Additionally, Navarro clarified that he is Mexican in a separate social media post, which prompted discussions of "'white by proxy' syndrome."
At present, human rights groups have declared a humanitarian crisis over ICE detention centers, where immigrants — and the children separated from them at the U.S.-Mexico border — are being housed in squalid conditions. Last year, a transgender asylum seeker, Roxsana Hernández, died in one of these facilities; her body was found beaten and dehydrated. As of February 2019, over 100 transgender people were being held in ICE custody, according to a spokesperson.
The Instagram accounts of Fortier and Navarro have been set to private. However, the image continues to circulate on Twitter, along with an alleged response to the controversy from Navarro.
In the statement, Navarro denied being a racist. “I’m not racist, I’m Mexican. Reason number one I wanted to do it.” Additionally, he called his critics "sheep" and took aim at the ferocity of the backlash; he claimed he was called antigay slurs like "fag" and even "Nazi."
“To be honest, I’m not impressed to live in a society where breathing is a crime and you can’t make fun of yourself?” he said.
“Most of you know me and know who I [am] and I will stay true to myself and my beliefs, I will never change my way of thinking or feeling for trying to be part of a society where basically everything is a crime and everyone gets offended for the dumbest shit," he added.
Navarro's apology failed to silence some critics.
The annual American tradition of dressing up on Halloween invariably yields a batch of offensive or culturally insensitive costumes. The practice of dressing up in blackface as well as the traditional garb of Native Americans or other racial and ethnic groups is considered taboo.