Jussie Smollett Sends Empowering Message to Black and LGBTQ+ Youth in First Interview Since Attack
Just two weeks after an attack that left Empire star Jussie Smollett bruised and scraped, the 36-year-old actor sat down with ABC’s Robin Roberts to talk about the assault and its fallout, and to share a message of strength for young members of the LGBTQ+ community.
Echoing details from the police report about the incident, Smollett said that his attackers got his attention by yelling racial and homophobic slurs at him, and that they tied a rope around his neck and tried to douse him with bleach.
“We live in a society where, as a gay man, you are considered somehow to be weak. And I am not weak,” a tearful Smollett told Roberts in the interview, which aired Thursday, February 14.
Indeed, as the actor told Good Morning America, he wants to use the attack to show the strength he has as a gay man and hopefully share that power with other LGBTQ+ people.
“I want them [queer youth] to see that I fought back and I want a little gay boy who might watch this to see that I fought the [expletive] back,” he said. “And it does not take anything away from people that are not able to do that, but I fought back.”
“They ran off,” he added. “I didn’t.”
One thing Smollett was adamant about pointing out is that while police in the ongoing investigation find him cooperative, some have questioned his credibility or the veracity of his claims.
“At first it was like, ‘If I tell the truth, then that’s it, because that’s the truth.’ But then it became a thing of like, ‘Oh, how can you doubt that? How do you not believe the truth?'” he said of the line of questioning about the attack. “Then it became a thing of like, ‘It’s not like you don’t necessarily believe that this is the truth — you don’t even want to see the truth.'”
But the actor remains undeterred. “I think people need to hear the truth, because everybody has their own idea, some are healing and some are hurtful,” Smollett explained. “But I just want young people, young members of the LGBTQ community, young Black children to know how strong that they are, to know the power that they hold in their little pinky.”
(Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)