People takes sides in Castillo remarks

When Pembroke Pines City Commissioner Angelo Castillo posted on Facebook that he had made the decision to remain a man he probably didn’t realize his self-described satirical message mocking Caitlyn Jenner’s recent coming out would end up going viral. The story was covered by local news outlets, New Times, Sun Sentinel, WPLG Local 10 news, and even made the national news with the Advocate writing about it.

In case you missed it here’s the post that started the controversy:

“I have an announcement to make. After considerable thought, I’ve decided to remain a guy. Now, I know this defies all conventional wisdom, trends and styles. Yet I’ve considered my decisions carefully and just feel it will be better for all concerned. In the days ahead, I ask for your help and support. Staying a guy is not an easy choice to make but in reaching this difficult decision I hope you will all understand that I really think this is the best choice I can make for me. (satire added, no extra charge) Discuss.”

Castillo routinely ends his posts with “discuss.”

Besides being a city commissioner he’s an employee of the Broward Sheriff’s Office. He also once ran Broward House as its executive director.

There were those who came to his defense. One such person was local trans activist Nikki Adams, who happened to work under Castillo at the Broward House.

“I read the post…and chuckled because I know you and your sense of humor. I also thought at the same time that you could get some heat for it. Apparently you have. My opinion is that society has become way too socially correct. Everyone has been forced to walk on eggshells and tip toe around controversial issues. It's become absurd! The ones who are attacking you have no idea who you are as a person. I do and I know how you treated me and everyone that walked through B H as workers or clients,” Adams wrote. “You have never been disrespectful and never made anyone feel inferior to you. Do I think you should apologize? No. It was a joke, nothing more. They are however forcing your hand to make a statement. If and when you do please feel free to let them know that your friend Nikki Adams stands firmly by your side! And, by the way, I think you're very courageous for remaining a man!"

Castillo later said of his posts “No subject or viewpoint is off limits and I encourage candor above all else. All points of view are welcomed.”

Except the ones he doesn’t like apparently.

The discussion that this post generated must have touched a nerve because at one point he told people to go “fuck themselves” if they didn’t like it.

“I have a right to say what I wish in the manner that I choose for the purposes I select and in the way I think is right. Anybody that doesn’t like me doing that they can go fuck themselves. Is that clear enough?”

In yet another seemingly contradictory statement he said after the story went viral “Candor isn't for everybody especially not for the political correct crowd or the weak of spirit.”

Castillo’s boss at the BSO didn’t seem amused by the post.

"I just don't joke about religion or things that could be personally sensitive to people,'' Sheriff Scott Israel told the Sun Sentinel. "I don't find it funny. It's just not something I do. I don't condone it.''

This wasn’t the first post of Castillo’s that related to Jenner either.

“Well, I’ll say this. She’s better looking than Rudy Giuliani,” he wrote. No “discuss” tag was added to that post.

In several comments Castillo was adamant that his coming out as a man post wasn’t a joke.

“I should add, my intent was satire. Not a joke,” he wrote.

But this later exchange was presumably a joke when Ron Gunzburger, another employee of the Broward Sheriff’s Office, said “I was fine with you, Angelo, when you were going through your woman phase. Whatever makes you happy.”

Castillo responded: “You promised never to tell.”

Nikki Adams added:

“Really people? Have we all lost every bit of sensibility that you can't get it was sarcasm to bring to light the people that actually do have a problem with Caitlyn's decision? I'm part of the trans community and I got the joke immediately as sarcasm at its finest,” she wrote. “To all of you that aren't trans, don't tell me what I should and should not be offended by and don't put yourself on a pedestal, spewing hatred at someone you don't know. I have worked with Angelo in the past and I can tell you ALL that he is a profound supporter of LGBTQ rights. I would venture to say he has done more than our so called activists have by putting his name and reputation on the line in many a political battle. To sum up my feelings on this matter, LIGHTEN UP PEOPLE!”

One local conservative website came to the defense of Castillo, who happens to be a Democrat. ran this headline “Bold Fla. politician demonstrates EXACTLY how to stand up to PC police.” One commenter added “Thank you Mr. Castillo. You have given me the courage to finally step up and say ‘I am a white, heterosexual male, with not one ounce of white guilt, and I intend to stay that way!’”

In a letter to the editor to SFGN Castillo defended himself, and his posts, saying he was doing nothing more than using satire to bring attention to Caitlyn Jenner’s “courageous decision.”

“My goal was to illustrate through satire…that we all have a right to choose what we consider best for ourselves so long as those choices don't infringe on the rights of others,” he said. “The goal was to generate light, not heat, understanding for Jenner's actions and certainly never to generate offense.”

He stopped just short of an apology though.

“So, of course I regret if anybody was unintentionally offended,” he said. 

At one point one of Castillo’s Facebook friends attacked Jenner’s transition.

“I find it a serious act of cowardice to marry your THIRD wife and have children with her if you had these feelings and were already involved in some manner of "transitioning' at that time and…if you still have a penis, you are still a man...END OF DISCUSSION. Angelo...I support your manhood 100%!!!

Castillo’s response: “Many may find your comment very harsh. But I do think it legitimately opens an avenue of discussion that is valid. If you're a confused person on the question of identity, under what limits of motivation is it moral to enter into a marriage? That is a legitimate ethical and moral question.”

Castillo didn’t address the second part of his friend’s post erasing Caitlyn’s transition to a woman.

The Dolphin Democrats, Broward’s LGBT Democratic Club, blasted Castillo.

“This is not satire, but instead offensively disparages transgender people. The Dolphin Democrats feel this is entirely inappropriate for any elected official who is also a Democrat, especially as it occurred during Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Pride month, celebrated in June,” the statement read. “Castillo brushes off criticism of his satire by telling people ‘if you find it inappropriate, if it offends you, defriend me’ which demonstrates his unwillingness to act responsibly as an elected official and propose solutions in the form of good public policy initiatives. Being transgender is not a proper subject for satire because of the hatred and intolerance faced by transgender people every day.”