'We are proud. We are gay': Jussie Smollett delivers emotional message at 1st concert after attack

Jussie Smollett admits he's "not fully healed" as he takes the stage for the first time since his attack.  He also addresses certain misconceptions and revealed what actually transpired that early morning. 

Jussie Smollett refused to let his recent attack stop him from living with his convictions or performing for his fans. On Saturday, the actor/singer took the stage, just five days after what appeared to be a homophobic assault and showed his attackers that he was far from beaten. 

ON RETURNING TO THE STAGE SHORTLY AFTER THE ATTACK

Smollett addressed his audience at the Troubadour in West Hollywood while fighting back tears. “I had to be here tonight, y’all. I can’t let the motherf—ers win,” he began. 

Smollett had the support of his family that night. His brother, Jojo introduced him on stage and spoke of their family’s hesitation for him to be out in public shortly after the unfortunate incident. 

“I sincerely wanted him to stay out of the public until he healed. And after much debate, some arguing and many tears, my family and I have realized that tonight is an important part of his healing.

"You see, he’s been a fighter since he was a baby. He fought his attackers that night and he continues to fight. Jussie is a true artist every time he breathes. But above all else, he is the epitome of love.”

ON HEALING AND STANDING UP FOR LOVE

Smollett took a moment to embrace his brother before addressing his audience.

 “I have so many words on my heart. The most important thing I have to say is thank you so much and that I’m okay. I’m not fully healed yet, but I’m going to. And I’m gonna stand strong with y’all… l will always stand for love. I will never stand for anything other than that. Regardless of what anyone else says, I will only stand for love. And I hope that you all will stand with me. So now… let’s do it.”

A TRIBUTE TO SPECIAL PEOPLE

Smollett performed for a supportive crowd which included Rep. Maxine Waters, filmmaker Lee Daniels, and actor Wilson Cruz. Towards the end of the show, he paid tribute to Daniels and Cruz who have been an inspiration to him.

“I promised myself I was not gonna cry tonight… Someone in the crowd that I want to recognize: Wilson Cruz is someone I identified with growing up. I stand on the backs of so many people — of the Lee Daniels and the Wilson. Cruzes — and I pray to God I make you all proud.”

At one point during the show, Smollett also recognized his boyfriend before singing a song about him. 

 “Over these last four days, my man… Everybody should be blessed enough to have a love like that.”

CLARIFYING FALSE DETAILS ABOUT HIS ASSAULT

Prior to his encore, Smollett clarified certain misconceptions about what actually happened on the day two men attacked him outside his Chicago apartment. 

 “I was bruised but my ribs were not cracked; they were not broken. I went to the doctor immediately… I was not hospitalized. Both my doctors in L.A. and Chicago cleared me to perform, but said to take care, obviously. And above all: I fought the f— back.”

Cheers rang across the venue before Smollett jokingly added, “I’m the gay Tupac! So now, we can do our encore.” Before he exited the stage, he declared,

“We are proud. We are gay.”

THE MORNING OF HIS ATTACK

Smollett, who plays an openly gay character on the Fox series, “Empire” became the victim of a hate crime on January 29. At 2 am, two men approached him and yelled racial and homophobic slurs before pouring a chemical substance on him and tying a rope around his neck. The 36-year-old brought himself to the hospital and coordinated with the police after the incident. 

Surveillance footage of the street where Smollett was attacked placed two persons of interest in the area around the time of the incident. There was not much evidence from the footage to directly connect the two men to the attack but police are trying to locate them to find out if they were merely witnesses or the perpetrators. 

DONALD TRUMP'S REACTION

Meanwhile, Smollett received the support of celebrities who condemned the attack. Among them was President Donald Trump who described the incident as “horrible” despite reports suggesting that the men who assaulted Smollett were heard shouting “MAGA country.” MAGA stands for “Make America Great Again,” a slogan used during Trump’s campaign. 

THE ALARMING RISE OF HATE CRIMES

The attack on Smollett is raising a lot of concern for the growing incidence of hate crimes. In 2017, the FBI reported a 17% increase, making it the third consecutive year an increase has been noted. One-third of the 7,175 crimes reported were targeted towards Black Americans and 16% were due to sexual orientation. 

Activist Preston Mitchum highlighted the effect of Trump’s divisive administration to the growing intensity of hate crimes.

“Everyday our multiple marginalized identities increase our chances of facing racist, homophobic vitriol — and this fact has only intensified under the Trump administration with their dog whistle politics. So as we wait to see if justice is served for Smollett, we as Black queer people wait to see if America will finally see our lives as worth protecting. Because history has rarely been on the side of Black queer folk.”

With Smollett’s attack raising more consciousness about the glaring issue of homophobia in American society, it is the hope of many members of the LGBTQ community that measures will be taken to assure their protection from the threat of these hate crimes.

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