2014 Villain: Sam Sotiropoulos (@TrusteeSam)
Nominated for: spreading bigotry and hate while serving as a TDSB trustee.
Torontoist is ending the year by naming our Heroes and Villains—the people, places, things, and ideas that have had the most positive and negative impacts on the city over the past 12 months. Cast your ballot until 5 p.m. on December 30. At noon on December 31, we’ll reveal your choices for Toronto’s Superhero and Supervillain of the year.
Slimy, smug, and toxic to civil rights discussions happening within and around Toronto public schools, Sam Sotiropoulos, then the elected TDSB trustee for Ward 20, Scarborough-Agincourt, claimed on his campaign website that he “firmly believes in equality for everyone” (emphasis his). But the now-former public official—known as @TrusteeSam on Twitter—incessantly championed the rights of a group not commonly considered to need or deserve such treatment: old, straight, prudish, white guys. What a saint.
We were just getting into the groove of 2014 when he started using social media to air his outdated, small-minded, and completely backwards notions about Toronto’s LGBTQ community. In February, he harassed Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam on Twitter insinuating that nude marchers in the Pride Parade were getting special treatment by not being arrested for breaking public nudity laws; he then embarked on an inane crusade against “homosexism,” defined by Urban Dictionary—in a post that suggests he might have written it himself—as “the heterophobia of the LGBT community and its members perverse behavior at the Toronto gay parade.” Never a man to falter in his beliefs, he then suggested Pride participants are pedophiles on Newstalk 1010 in April.
He then proceeded to allege that transgenderism is a form of mental illness, defending the view with a repeated non-answer while showing off one the the most infuriating smirks ever captured on television (skirting tough questions is something he is alleged to do often, at least in person). He also doesn’t believe in white privilege, is anti-abortion, anti-sex education, and wears this fucking hat.
So, okay, he’s a bigot (a big one)—but he’s not the only one in Toronto, and he’s definitely not the only one Twitter. His voice, though, was both loud and pernicious: he was elected to a public position and used his hatefulness as a political strategy, trying to normalize his views by saying his was a Scarborough-wide perspective. Happily, kids were smart enough not to go along with it, and, hey, voters were, too. But even today, as he still refuses to take the “Trustee” out of his Twitter handle, the embarrassingly out-of-touch @TrusteeSam continues to provide Twitter trolls with the kind of vitriolic hate bait that already makes social media such a dangerous place for vulnerable students—the very people he was elected to represent and protect.
Now, there are lots of issues with the TDSB, but Sam Sotiropoulos is a problem we hope has disappeared forev-COME ON, he has a book coming out? Seriously, fuck this guy.