Earlier this week, Colombia’s Ministry of the Interior tweeted, “I hope Luigi is gay” in response to a tweet that appeared to claim Mario was heterosexual. The tweet was deleted, but screenshots resurfaced some time after—with many criticizing the use of a gay slur. Whoever runs the government department’s social media account issued a sort-of apology on Twitter.
“We know they weren’t the right words, but we are aware that homophobia kills,” tweeted the account. “That is why we are in favor of all initiatives that make the LGBTIQ+ population visible, and we work on guaranteeing their rights.” The tweet ended with the tag “save a community manager,” in case anyone was confused about who was responsible for such a blunder.
What likely happened here is that the ministry account manager forgot to switch to their personal account when they tweeted about The Super Mario Bros Movie, at least that’s what I suspect. It’s a rookie mistake, I know. But what upset a lot of people was the way that the account called Luigi gay. “Marica” is commonly seen as a derogatory term against feminine men, though there are also casual filler uses like “dude” or “bro.” And anyone familiar with queer language knows that the community will often reclaim words that are used as slurs.
I don’t know if this is the case with marica, but the social media manager must be having an awful day in either case. I don’t know what’s worse: Being outed as a homophobe, or possibly accidentally coming out of the closet at work before you’re ready.
Several Spanish speakers on Twitter have tried to explain just how bad marica is. One person wrote that it wasn’t quite as severe as the F slur in America but interpreted the tweet as, “God willing, Luigi will be a fag.” God willing, this was just some queer worker gay-posting about The Super Mario Bros. Movie while collecting a government paycheck. That would be real allyship from the Ministry of the Interior.