Politics

District 1 City Council candidates apologize for past racist, homophobic language in social media posts

The posts surfaced online this week.

Lane Turner/Globe Staff
Boston City Hall. Lane Turner / The Boston Globe

Two candidates seeking to represent District 1 on the Boston City Council have apologized for using racist and homophobic language in years-old social media posts that recently surfaced online.

Screenshots of Facebook posts penned by Gabriela Coletta posted on Twitter on Tuesday showed Coletta used the n-word and homophobic language, apparently while speaking with friends, between December 2008 and July 2011, when she was a teenager, The Boston Globe reports.

In a statement posted on Twitter Tuesday evening, Coletta, now 29, apologized for her words.

“I am incredibly sorry for the ignorant and horrible things I said,” she said. “There is no excuse. I am embarrassed and ashamed. I regret hat I used such awful words and apologize for hurting anyone with those comments.

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“Regardless of how long ago I used this language, the harm remains,” the statement continues. “Those words do not reflect the person I have become over time and the woman I am today.”

Del Rio subsequently issued a statement on Wednesday reflecting on Coletta’s old posts, calling her comments “hurtful to the Black Community and the LGBTQ+ community.”

“These communities are all too familiar with similar rhetoric in their daily lives and how this rhetoric breeds animosity, hate, and violence,” she said. “Words matter.”

But, according to the Globe, soon after Del Rio’s statement was released, a screenshot of Facebook comments written by Del Rio 15 years ago, in which she also wrote with homophobic and racist language in messages to friends, surfaced on Twitter.

A reporter showed Del Rio, now 36, the comments and she confirmed she wrote them when she was approximately 21 years old.

“Those comments are from someone who is totally uninformed,” Del Rio told the Globe, referring to her younger self. “Since then I’m proud and happy to have dedicated my personal and professional life to understanding discrimination … It is certainly unfortunate that I used that language and was playing around with those topics. It’s a big mistake.”

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She said, however, she does not regret publishing the statement regarding Coletta’s past language.

“If we see any kind of discrimination, racism, homophobia against a community, we have to call it out,” Del Rio said. “If I’m the one making the comment, I want to own that and apologize.”

Both Del Rio and Coletta are seeking the seat to be left vacant by City Councilor and state Sen. Lydia Edwards. District 1 spans East Boston, Charlestown, and the North End.

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