The nation was shocked and disgusted to hear that actor and musician Jussie Smollett was violently attacked in what is believed to be a hate crime. According to Smollett, he was attacked in Chicago by two men who put a rope around his neck and poured a chemical substance on him, all the while shouting racial and homophobic slurs. For the first time since the traumatizing incident, Smollett is speaking out about what he endured, according to CNN.
Smollett is an African American man who publicly identifies as gay, and portrays a gay character on hit drama series Empire. Many believe that Smollett’s attack was well planned, targeting him specifically for his racial identity and sexual preference.
After being bombarded with questions, concerns, and statements of support from fans, the actor wanted to speak out to assure everyone that he is going to be okay. Smollett appeared at a concert on Saturday evening at the Troubadour club in West Hollywood. His voice full of emotion, he recounted the experience and thanked fans for their support. The actor acknowledged that the incident could have been far worse, and he is grateful that he sustained only bruises. While he was transported to the hospital immediately following the attack, doctors told him that he had luckily gotten away without any broken ribs. He was later cleared to perform at the concert that evening.
“I’m not fully healed yet,” he said. “But I’m going to (be), and I’m gonna stand strong with y’all.”
"I have so many words on my heart that I want to say, but the most important thing I can say is thank you so much, and that I’m OK," Jussie Smollett told the audience at his first public appearance since reporting a racist and homophobic assault. https://t.co/cwO9ax4h6v
— The New York Times (@nytimes) February 3, 2019
Smollett was adamant that he would not miss out on the concert. He felt that doing so would amount to letting his attackers win, giving them just what they wanted.
“I don’t even care to name any names,” he said. “The hateful rhetoric that gets passed around, it has to stop. But guess what, it stops with the people that believe in love.”
In addition, the actor emphasized that the experience will not scare him into hiding or cause him to hide his identity. Whether he is accepted for who he is or not, he will continue to strive to be the most authentic version of himself. While this particular hate crime received widespread media attention, he acknowledges that it was certainly not an isolated incident, as members of minority groups experience this sort of terror every day.
Many fans in attendance at the concert — as well as other actors and actresses — have spoken out in support of Smollett for his courage and resiliency.