The beauty pageant contestant stripped of her Miss Michigan title over tweets dubbed "offensive" and "insensitive" has said she believes "coming out as conservative is harder than coming out as gay".
On Friday 19 July, Kathy Zhu tweeted a screenshot of an email she had received from the Miss World America (MWA) organisation informing her that her Miss Michigan title had been revoked.
MWA explained that the reason for the removal of her title was due to "offensive, insensitive and inappropriate" content found on her social media accounts, which Zhu stated was in reference to tweets concerning her "refusal to try on a hijab" and "black on black gun violence".
In a statement sent to The Independent with regards to the controversy, the 20-year-old said: "I stand by each and every one of my tweets on my account", despite the fact that the tweets have reportedly since been deleted.
Zhu added that in her opinion, "coming out as a conservative is way harder than coming out as gay in today's society".
"It is honestly sad that the left refers to statistics and facts as racist and insensitive," Zhu said.
"I am very glad that I now have the opportunity to speak out about the unjust treatment of conservatives."
The University of Michigan student also touched upon the response she's had on social media, saying it's been "mostly positive".
"People support that I've decided to stand my ground instead of compromise on my beliefs and values," Zhu said.
"But of course, the negative reactions are from those that either have not read the articles and just saw clickbait headlines or believe that statistics are racist."
In 2016, Zhu starred in a YouTube video with TV network Fusion titled: "Why this 18-year-old is voting for Donald Trump."
In the short film, Zhu explained that she believed her Democrat-supporting classmates were participating in a "bandwagon trend", adding that she thinks having a US president who is "not politically correct" is a "good way to show the real side of what is happening in America".
While several social media users have expressed messages of support towards Zhu, others have condemned the student over her comments.
"Don't get it twisted – Kathy Zhu was stripped of her title for disgusting tweets. Tweets that were racist. Not because she is a conservative," one Twitter user wrote.
The Independent has contacted Miss World America for comment.