Musician and Empire actor Jussie Smollet made his first public appearance since last week’s attack to deliver to fans a message of hope and resilience in the troubling times faced not only by him, but all members of the LGBTQ community. In his first performance following the attack at Hollywood’s Troubadour Club, when the singer took the stage in front of 300 people and proudly stated that “I had to be here tonight. I couldn’t let those motherfuckers win,” before launching into songs from both Empire and his debut album.
Jussie Smollett speaks out at Los Angeles performance. pic.twitter.com/l8QZAQfubW
— Keith Boykin (@keithboykin) February 3, 2019
Between songs, Smollett – or, “the gay Tupac,” as he proudly proclaims in the video above – reiterated that “now is the time to be blacker and gayer” in order to fight the forces of oppression that are all too present in the current cultural climate:
“The hateful rhetoric has to stop and it stops when you believe in love. Sometimes — and I’m guilty of it, too — we who celebrate love can actually get wrapped up in so much hate. We cannot let that happen. If that does, we are destined to fail to even exist. That’s not an option. Take love back. We have to take it back because it was ours to begin with.”
The incident in question occurred the morning of Tuesday, January 29th, when two men yelling homophobic slurs at the actor-singer approached Smollett in Chicago. The incident escalated when the attackers punched Smollet down and poured an unknown chemical substance over him before tying a noose around his neck. Fortunately, despite the brutality of the attack, Smollett made it out with bruised ribs and was cleared to perform the next day. The attack is still under investigation.